Buddha in a Traffic Jam is a 2016 Indian political thriller film written and directed by Vivek Agnihotri.[1] The film released nationwide on 13 May 2016.

Buddha in a Traffic Jam
Official release poster of Buddha in a Traffic Jam
Directed byVivek Agnihotri
Written byVivek Agnihotri
Produced by
  • Suresh Chukapalli
  • Vivek Agnihotri
  • Sharad Patel
  • Shreyanshi Patel
  • Pranay Chokshi
  • Ravi Agnihotri
  • (Supervising Producer)
  • Vikram Gupta
  • (Associate Producers)
  • Dream Cube
  • Sandeep Goel
  • Abhishek Mohunta
  • Pritika Idnani
  • Ritesh Patel
CinematographyAttar Singh Saini
Edited bySattyajit Gazmer
Music byRohit Sharma
Distributed byCarnival Motion Pictures
Release dates
  • 2014 (2014) (Mumbai International)
  • 13 May 2016 (2016-05-13)
  • Hindi
  • English

The film narrates a tale of inter-meddling of academia with corruption and Maoism. The film received negative reviews from critics.[2]

Plot edit

Vikram Pandit (Arunoday Singh) is a happy-go-lucky management student from a business school in India. He becomes an overnight sensation after a successful social media campaign against the radical fundamentalism of moral policing in India. Little did Vikram know that he was about to become a part of a plot that would risk his life and the nation. He gets entangled between two facets of India—Socialism and Capitalism, both of which are deeply rooted in isolated corners of the country.

Somewhere deep within the jungles, flagrant conspirators were gearing up to maim the Country. They had established links with the patrician society. Vikram's internet campaign pulls him into a very deep web of conspiracy.

The film revolves around Vikram's survival in the sinister designs of the establishment.

Cast edit

Production edit

Development edit

Nisha Susan of Pink Chaddi Campaign fame recalled someone from Indian School of Business, claiming to work at a film incubator having emailed her a few years back, about a prospective film centred on her campaign.[5] The plot went (roughly):[5]

A young idealistic student is in a bar, where a bunch of right-wing goons assault girls. The student vanquishes the goons and follows up with a Facebook campaign against misogyny, which commands considerable fame. He is subsequently approached by the Naxals who convert and ask him to mould the urban youth in Maoist ideology; by the virtue of his gained fame and charisma.

The part about Naxals was a creative addition, and Susan had replied that while he was free to make a movie about the themes, she found it surprising that a campaign which was run by numerous women, in reality, was to be run by a single man in the film.[5] He replied that a woman-run campaign was apparently not realistic.[5]

In an interview with Hindustan Times, Vivek said that while he was delivering a lecture at Indian School of Business about Naxal influence in academia, the students suggested to sketch out a 10-minute short film.[6] That idea gradually morphed into the thoughts of producing a full-fledged feature film.[6] Agnihotri has asserted of the film to be modeled on his own life[6][7][8] though one of his co-producers has denied it.[9]

Vivek and the students went on a drive to collect funds before meeting Suresh Chukkapalli who agreed to produce it.[6] Vivek felt that convincing producers to support a non-star content-driven film was difficult.[10]

Casting edit

Filming edit

The title was chosen as a metaphor alluding to the commotion that engulfs the students of various universities.[6] Around eighty per cent of the film was shot at Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad[6] and the total budget was about five crore INR.[9]

Soundtrack edit

Pallavi Joshi made her singing debut in the film with the song Chand Roz, a ghazal written by Faiz Ahmad Faiz.[11]

Tour and release edit

Certification edit

The Central Board of Film Certification passed the film without any cuts.[7] Agnihotri claimed that certain objectionable content including the likes of extreme language and extreme sex scenes were allowed to stay as the board members were sympathetic to the message of the film.[7][12]

University tour and controversies edit

Reportedly, whilst many distributors initially promised to distribute the film, many later backed out on grounds of the controversial topic.[6] Barjatya productions came to the aid[13] but later withdraw their offer. He then chose to tour across different colleges and universities across the nation and screen the film; due to an alleged lack of marketing capital.[6] The film premiered at IIT Bombay on 6 April 2016.[14] These screening of the films with the help of political unions, who have had a reputation for instigating violence,[15] have been criticized.[9] and the screenings have been protested against.[12]

Jadavpur University edit

A screening of the film, which was supposed to be accompanied by Vivek and Anupam, was scheduled to be held at the Triguna Sen Auditorium, Jadavpur University by a group “Think India”, backed by a right wing student union-- Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).[2][16] The screening was cancelled after the alumni association withdrew their permission, citing the model code of conduct, which was in force due to the concurrent state elections.[16] Agnihotri was greeted with black flags and he alleged that he had been gheraoed and manhandled whilst his car was damaged.[16][17][8][18] The screening was thereafter rescheduled to be held in an open-air format but did not take any permission from the concerned authorities.[19] It was accordingly asked to be stopped by the registrar but Vivek chose to proceed.[2] Anticipating trouble in case of enabling a forced closure, the authorities did not intervene further.[20] This led to a subsequent fracas wherein the students claim that several outsiders from a right wing student union-- Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) turned the event into a political rally, sloganeering along right-wing agendas and assaulting those who dissented against the "divisive content" of the film.[16][9] Four of the outsiders (three of whom belonged to ABVP and the other was a professor of Bangabasi College) were alleged to have sexually molested women students and were kept within the university estate office by the students.[2][20] They were rescued after the vice-chancellor, registrar and other senior officials intervened, pending which an FIR was lodged by the university authority against them.[2] Vivek and other ABVP leaders summarily rejected the allegations of molestation;[8] which were subsequently further criticized.[9] Vivek also blamed the students as naxalites enrolled in an institute where everything happened except education.[12]

The next day, JU students held a march across the city chanting slogans of ‘Azadi' from RSS and BJP, the parent organizations of ABVP and against "saffronisation" of the nation.[21][22][23] ABVP filed a counter FIR and asserted that they will send a detailed report to the home ministry about the "pro-naxalite anti-national" activities that took place in the campus which were supposedly advocated by pro-left students.[22][24] They also sought for physical assault on the university students.[23]

The film was finally released on 13 May 2016 by Rajshri Productions in a limited number of theatres.[6][25] The Indian Express failed to note any 'buzz' in the market.[25]

Reception edit

Critical edit

Sarit Ray of Hindustan Times rated the film 1/5 and commented it to be a thoroughly unconvincing propaganda film that resembled an amateur and laughable attempt at filmmaking.[26] Suprateek Chatterjee of HuffPost deemed it to be a "frequently ridiculous propaganda piece" for the right wing.[27] Raja Sen of Rediff.Com noted it to be a hollow and senseless product of incompetent film-making; that failed the standards of even being an effective propaganda film.[28] Mohar Basu of Times of India rated it 2 out of 5 stars, criticizing the flimsy plot and Vivek's limited knowledge of the relevant issues.[29] Nandini Ramnath of Scroll.in criticized the film as a zeitgeist film of the Modi era, that severely lacked artistic merit and had a ridiculous plot.[30] Kunal Guha of Mumbai Mirror rated it 1.5 out of 5, noting that the film's plot deteriorated with ensuing time and at the end, induced nothing more than a little headache whilst sinking Vivek's last-ditch effort to redeem himself.[31] Surabhi Redkar of Koimoi.com rated it 1.5 out of 5 and remarked it to be a propaganda film with a flimsy plot, that stood far from objectivity and which sought to sell a particular mindset.[32] Rachit Gupta of Filmfare criticized the film as suffering from lackluster plot, half-heartedly written scripts, mediocre screenplay, inconsistent performances and poor direction that did go absolutely nowhere.[33] Aniruddha Guha at MensXP.com rated the film 1.5 out of 5 and noted it to be a mixture of haphazard storytelling and poor screenplay that stuck to a uni-dimensional narrative, throughout: Leftists are the bad guys.[34] Rajyasree Sen of Newslaundry.com noted that the sole reasons for showing the film in universities could be as a reminder for the students to not fund or be involved in cinema so shoddy, in whose description the words 'convoluted' and 'childish' proved to be an understatement.[9]

Rohit Bhatnagar of Deccan Chronicle praised the film as an extraordinary effort of shedding light on the buried political issues of the nation and praised multiple aspects of the filmmaking.[35]

Box office edit

The film did not perform well at the box office.[36]

Book edit

Agnihotri later wrote a book titled Urban Naxals: The Making of Buddha in a Traffic Jam about his experiences whilst making the film.[37][38] The book led to his framing of the term urban Naxal.[39] According to Agnihotri, Naxalites are waging war on India with details plans for an overthrow of the state.[40]

In the book, Agnihotri writes about his experiences of making the film, which according to one review "exposed a nexus between an India-wide Maoist terror movement across red corridor in India and their supporters in urban centers, specially in academic institutions, print media, television media, administration, and non governmental organisation."[40]

In the foreword of the book Prof. Makarand R. Paranjape (of JNU) writes, 'We all fail in our lives. But few of us actually recover to tell the story. Vivek is one of them. It is this story of struggle and perseverance in all odds - where one stand head on with established institutions of academics, media, film distributor, film producers, civil society who create and present broader narrative to nation as suit there interest.'[40]

References edit

  1. ^ "Convincing producers for non-star film difficult: Vivek Agnihotri". 7 April 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Plot thickens at Jadavpur University, clashes over movie screening". Hindustan Times. 7 May 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Buddha In A Traffic Jam 2016 Movie News, Wallpapers, Songs & Videos". Bollywood Hungama. Archived from the original on 7 February 2012.
  4. ^ Tankha, Madhur (13 November 2014). "Back after a break". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d "Everything About Me & Arunoday Singh that You Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask". The Ladies Finger. 17 May 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Dundoo, Sangeetha Devi (18 April 2016). "Neither left, nor right". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  7. ^ a b c "'Buddha in a Traffic Jam' passed by censors without any cuts: Director Vivek Agnihotri". The Indian Express. 13 April 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  8. ^ a b c "Nowhere in India do students behave the way they did at JU: Vivek Agnihotri". The Times of India. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Sabki Dhulai". Newslaundry. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Convincing producers for non-star film difficult: Vivek Agnihotri". The Indian Express. 7 April 2016. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Pallavi Joshi makes her singing debut in 'Buddha In A Traffic Jam'". The Indian Express. 29 April 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  12. ^ a b c "'In JU, there is everything except education': 'Buddha in a Traffic Jam' director Vivek Agnihotri". Firstpost. 11 May 2016. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  13. ^ Thakkar, Mehul S. (10 April 2016). "Barjatyas bails Vivek Agnihotri's 'Buddha' out of a 'Jam'". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  14. ^ "'Buddha in a Traffic Jam' premiered at IIT Bombay". The Times of India. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  15. ^ "Ramjas Not Alone, ABVP Has a Legacy of Violence and Vandalism". The Quint. 23 February 2017. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  16. ^ a b c d "Anupam Kher's 'Buddha in a Traffic Jam' screened in open air amid protests on Jadavpur campus". The Indian Express. 7 May 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  17. ^ "'They Are Breaking The Car Apart' Tweets Buddha In A Traffic Jam Director At Jadavpur University". NDTV.com. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  18. ^ "Vivek Agnihotri recounts his Jadavpur University ordeal: No room for the Right". Firstpost. 13 May 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  19. ^ "Jadavpur VC says film was screened in open air without prior permission". The Indian Express. 7 May 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  20. ^ a b "4 ABVP, BJP workers booked for 'molesting' Jadavpur univ students". Hindustan Times. 7 May 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  21. ^ "Students protest on Kolkata's streets". The Hindu. 7 May 2016. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Jadavpur univ students, ABVP on collision course day after clashes". Hindustan Times. 7 May 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  23. ^ a b "Will chop off legs of anti-nationals in JU, say ABVP activists". Hindustan Times. 9 May 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  24. ^ "Jadavpur University hub of anti-nationals, VC supporting them: BJP". Hindustan Times. 7 May 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  25. ^ a b "Azhar, Buddha In A Traffic Jam and Dear Dad release at box-office today". The Indian Express. 13 May 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  26. ^ "Buddha In A Traffic Jam review: All hype, no substance". Hindustan Times. 14 May 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  27. ^ "'Buddha In A Traffic Jam' Review: A Frequently Ridiculous Propaganda Piece". HuffPost India. 13 May 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  28. ^ "Review: Buddha In A Traffic Jam makes me feel sorry for Indian Right Wingers". Rediff. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  29. ^ Buddha In A Traffic Jam, Story, Trailers, retrieved 13 March 2019
  30. ^ Ramnath, Nandini. "Film review: 'Buddha in a Traffic Jam' has the perfect business plan for revolution". Scroll.in. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  31. ^ Guha, Kunal (17 September 2016). "Film review: Buddha In A Traffic Jam". Mumbai Mirror. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  32. ^ Redkar, Surabhi (12 May 2016). "Buddha In A Traffic Jam Review". Koimoi. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  33. ^ "Movie Review: Buddha In A Traffic Jam". filmfare.com. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  34. ^ "Movie Review: 'Buddha In A Traffic Jam' Is Neither Smart Nor Entertaining". mensxp.com. 13 May 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  35. ^ Bhatnagar, Rohit (12 May 2016). "Buddha In A Traffic Jam movie review: An unusual tale of social awakening". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  36. ^ "Arunoday Singh: I don't consider myself any less successful right now". Hindustan Times. 26 April 2018. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  37. ^ "Mithun Chakraborty gives a thumbs up to Vivek Agnihotri's book 'Urban Naxals'". Deccan Chronicle. 11 June 2018.
  38. ^ "Vivek Agnihotri's 'Urban Naxals' catches Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh's eye". New Indian Express. 15 June 2018.
  39. ^ "'Ghoul' and the Spectre of Totalitarianism". Economic and Political Weekly. 50, 50, 50, 50, 50 (23, 23, 23, 23, 23): 7–8. 5 June 2015.
  40. ^ a b c "Urban Naxals - Indic Today". Indica Today. 25 May 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2023.

External links edit