Buddha in a Traffic Jam
Buddha in a Traffic Jam is a 2014 Indian socio-political drama film written and directed by Vivek Agnihotri. Its ensemble cast include Arunoday Singh, Anupam Kher, Pallavi Joshi, Mahie Gill, Anchal Dwivedi, Indal Singh and Gopal K Singh. The film narrates the story of a professor who advocates his business students about the need of a revolution in India and the world at large, also sampling themes like corruption, naxalism, campus politics, moral policing, and crony capitalism.
- Just an earthen pot! But a rare piece of India's artistic tribal heritage.... I thought about the responsibility that...that education should bring. I thought about why despite of booming economy....and an industrial growth rate rivaling any other in the world....why are we still a poor country? Why are our villagers, our downtrodden, our rural areas, our tribals....all not getting even a single piece of this growth? And then I realized that this pot, has the potential to change all that.
- If my husband can be a Maoist, so can your father!... They are spread across all over India so you have to run away Vikram.
Quotes about Buddha in a Traffic Jam
- The most relevant film of our times... considering what is happening in the country.
- Anupam Kher, quoted from the back-cover in Agnohotri, V. (2018). Urban Naxals: The making of Buddha in a traffic jam.
- First they nearly stopped him from making his film. Then they tried to prevent him from screening it. When he took his exquisite and excruciating creation literally to the streets and to the campuses, showing it directly to target audiences, again he was heckled and blocked. I thought to myself, whether we love or hate the film, we cannot allow this in India. In my own university, JNU, another Leftist bastion, it was blocked by the Dean of the School of Arts & Aesthetics, in whose auditorium it was originally to be screened. Instead, the students arranged an outdoor screening, which was attended by over five thousand. The film had a rousing, almost delirious reception. When I saw it, I was moved, disturbed, provoked. It was one of the most original and unusual movies I had encountered in a long time...There is, besides, “a mindset in Bollywood that doesn't let Indic ideas flourish.”
- —Makarand R. Paranjape in Foreword quoted in Urban Naxals
- “Gripping, newsy account of a filmmaker's encounter with radicalism in urban India”
- —Hindol Sengupta Editor-at-Large, Fortune India and author of eight books. quoted in Urban Naxals
- Urban Naxals drags you into the hard, brutal and fanatical world thriving beneath the dark shadows of liberalism, free speech and tolerance. Vivek Agnihotri brings the art of storytelling and the craft of filmmaking to breathe life into an ugly phenomenon that has been setting a dangerous national agenda. This is a gripping and disturbing book that constricts your conscience and lingers within long after you’ve finished reading it.
- —Gautam Chikermane Vice President Observer Research Foundation and author, Tunnel of Varanavat quoted in Urban Naxals
- “Urban Naxals is a daring, if unconventional, analysis at how the far left has captured our educational institutions to produce a generation of brain-washed nihilists to wage war on the masses. Urban Naxals is at once irreverent and introspective, moving and hard-hitting. Urban Naxals will leave you shaken and ask you to join the conversation we, as a nation, ought to be having before it is too late.”
- —Mayur Didolkar Novelist quoted in Urban Naxals
- Budda in a Traffic Jam hits hard at the intellectual dishonesty of faculty operating in a system that compromises excellence to promote mediocrity.
- The Tribune quoted in Urban Naxals
- Vivek Agnihotri brings us an untouched issue of the hidden war going on in the country....
- Deccan Herald quoted in Urban Naxals
- ... thought-provoking. An idealistic drama, it motivates and instigates the audience for a revolution.
- Business Standard quoted in Urban Naxals
Urban Naxals (2018)
- Vivek Agnihotri - Urban Naxals The Making of Buddha in a Traffic Jam (2018, Garuda Prakashan)
- This film has been made out of that anger and frustration. This film speaks of the freedom that India needs in 2016, it speaks of that revolution. Only one revolution has been spoken of in this country, never the other. The other revolution will only come from Indianness, from innovation, from creating capital, from creating wealth, it will come when you will send money to your home. No one can starve and revolt. There are some people who want a section of people to starve, so that the other revolution comes and their political shops keep running.
- This is the reason why this film has been made. This film doesn’t agree with a certain thought process. Unfortunately, in India, all the literature festivals, film festivals are run by people with a fixed mindset and a fixed narrative, they are not run by people who love the country, their contribution to India’s capital is zero but to India’s chaos is hundred percent. They won’t let this film show there. That’s why we are here. To show you directly, like the film says, “without the middlemen”.
- Slowly but steadily, the film started finding its cult. This is the victory of Buddha. Today, at the end of the year, Huffington Post has released a list of the ten best films of the year and they have rated Buddha In A Traffic Jam as the second best, only after Dangal. Many other prominent listings have rated the film among the three best films of the year. Huffington Post writes in honour of our film, of course after watching it and understanding it: ‘Buddha in a Traffic Jam is a powerful film about morality, corruption, and social injustice that forces us to think about things which we don’t usually pay heed to. The film was panned by the Indian left-wing lobby at the time of its release. The issue at the heart of Buddha in a Traffic Jam is the Naxalite crisis. But the film dares to show us a different side to the Naxalite movement – not as a struggle in the jungle but driven according to a sophisticated business model designed by high-thinking masterminds. Directed by Vivek Agnihotri, Buddha in a Traffic Jam is well-researched and extremely well made. It is a real pity that the film was unjustly censured for leaning towards the right at the time of its release when in actuality it is equally critical of both the extremes. Here is an important film that hopefully will find a cult following in times to come.’
- On the release day, some three hundred troll handles were opened with zero followers to troll the film. This was led by Arvind Kejriwal’s fans and the group of trolls was led by the queens of trolls – @Rajyashree and Swati Chaturvedi @Bainjal, who later wrote a book on trolls. The best part is that none of them had seen the film. Like they share articles without reading them only on the basis of the headline, they started writing pre-determined reviews and comments. One anonymous guy/girl with the handle @GabbbarSingh trolled the film and called it a shitty film. Reading the comments, I knew that he/she had not seen the film so I deliberately asked which chapter he/she hated the most, which was never replied to. This person had not seen the film but was either paid or motivated to write against the film, otherwise, how can anybody be so stupid?
- I can guarantee no other small film in recent times has received so much of appreciation, support and fan following like Buddha in a Traffic Jam.
- We started getting invitations from Oxford and Cambridge, Australia, Singapore and many American universities and associations. Random people started exposing the lies of people like Raja Sen and Sekhri. Slowly, an army of thousands of Buddha believers started protecting the film from Urban Naxals and started promoting it through unconventional channels. The film found its market, its audience and created an ecosystem. The film got sold to all major digital platforms. It got over a million organic views on YouTube in no time. This is the victory of Buddha.
- The Leftists, liberals and intellectuals and their sympathizers had panned the film as my fantasy. Journalist Saba Naqvi, in a TV debate, even went to the extent of saying that I oppose Naxals because I have no intellect and radical activists like Kavita Krishnan and Shehla Rashid called the film my fantasy. But once the film started getting ground support, their own organizations, forums started inviting me to their seminars, conventions as the main speaker. The doors of literature festivals opened up for me. Academic forums started inviting me to present my views on Urban Naxalism and Intellectual Terrorism. Since the release of the film, I have been travelling the length and breadth of the country for almost 15-20 days a month to give lectures at various prestigious forums.
- This is when I received an email from the Mumbai Academy of Moving Images (MAMI), India’s number one film festival, then chaired by Shyam Benegal, that Buddha In A Traffic Jam was officially selected in the India Gold category which features five or six best films of the year.
- I decided to at least show the rough cut to as many studios as I could. I met Siddharth Roy Kapur, MD of UTV, who instantly agreed to do a screening. Very strangely, he didn’t come for the screening and instead sent a creative director who had just joined, and a young girl who had no idea of Indian politics. They loved the film and told me that this was one of the finest films they had seen in a long time and it should get a well-planned release. I wasted a lot of time with them and in the end, was told that ‘as a policy, we can’t be associated with a film of this kind’.
- It’s really strange but true that the films which win national awards or are selected by MAMI and other international film festivals, which deserve to be celebrated by the country and the studios, go through spine-breaking struggle, agony, humiliation, and hopelessness. Studios, producers, actors, and the entire film fraternity should invest in them and showcase them to a large audience to promote good cinema and develop audience taste for them to be able to make better films. We have invested large sums, time, and emotions in dumb cinema and by and by the audience has stopped appreciating any movie which has logic or reality. The industry makes you feel as if you have committed a cardinal crime by making such a film. This is the reason that in a social function you can identify the makers of such films with droopy shoulders, under confident body language, standing alone in a corner, and getting drunk, whereas the maker of a mindless comedy loaded with double entendres would be surrounded by top stars, producers, and media. We are a defective film industry.
- The first screening of the film at MAMI was attended mostly by film industry colleagues. A lot of them came to check it out as they just couldn’t believe that my film was in MAMI.
- ‘This is the reason why this film has been made. This film doesn’t agree with a certain thought process. Unfortunately, in India, all the literature festivals, film festivals are run by people with a fixed mindset and a fixed narrative, they are not run by people who love the country, their contribution to India’s capital is zero but to India’s chaos is hundred percent. They won’t let this film show there. That’s why we are here. To show you directly, like the film says, “without the middlemen”.
- While watching the screening with the students, I am thinking about the people who are against this film. Why were some faculty members not letting it screen? Who are this faculty? I am amazed at their political power. Are they running these institutes at their whims? Are these educational institutions or political madrasas? Is the faculty Taliban and are the students jihadis? Why is it that the Barkha Dutts of the world did not even bother to cover this historic moment? Or have they taken an oath to cover only the anti-national news?
- We are flooded with requests from top institutes to screen the film. Naireeta informs me that if we do two institutes a day, we will be able to finish all requests only in three months. We try to organize ourselves and select institutes which are on main trunk routes, easy to fly to and are politically relevant to our film’s theme. We have to drop places like Bhubaneshwar, Coimbatore, Roorkee, Dehradun, Agra, Nagpur etc. We have to cover approximately forty institutes or universities in the next forty days. Everyone thinks it’s a logistical nightmare. I wonder how politicians manage to give five to six speeches a day in scorching heat. Modi’s politics aside, one can always be inspired by his relentless campaigning. We lock our schedule.
- ‘Whereas, we have a screening every weekend. Just a few days ago, Aligarh was shown because it’s a film supported by the Leftists. But I know unofficially that the film secretary who is a Leftist got scared when he realized that the OAT will be jam-packed. When we protested, the Dean gave us permission for SAC (600 capacity). When more students signed up for the screening, they changed it at the last minute and finally, they gave permission for ICSR hall (capacity 300). Last night we put up posters of the movie but Leftists removed them overnight. Now the problem is that there are too many students, at least 800, who want to see the film, but the capacity is only 300.’
- The film started getting invitations from film festivals. We won the Best Original Screenplay award at the Madrid Film Festival. The response was overwhelming. I had heard about ‘standing ovations’ but never received one. The response was way beyond ‘standing ovation’. It was the connection. Instead of clapping and taking selfies, people engaged in discussions about Naxalism and other related politics. Almost every time, the discussions became intense with the audience getting into arguments with each other. The film was evoking a definite response. It was stimulating and engaging the audience.
- ‘We were alone. We tried to show it in some universities but unfortunately there also the faculty was hand in glove with a lot of anti-national activities and they also rejected our film. Then some students said we want to show this film outside on the street. On 18th March, in JNU, some five thousand students watched this film sitting on the ground, on the street actually, on trees, on terraces and on rooftops. Since then we have not stopped for a moment. This is the first time in the history of world cinema that a film has been shown to so many students and people before the release. Does any manufacturer go out sampling his product, free, before the formal launch of the product? People are generally scared…What happens if my film gets badmouthed, what if people criticize it on social media, then I am doomed. The biggest of the stars will never do that. Second thing, any filmmaker worth his salt will never allow his film to be screened in halls, auditoriums, in amphitheatres, outdoors on streets with thousands of mobile phones ready for piracy. We’ve had screenings with bad sound systems, we’ve shown it right on the wall of a university because there was a lot of wind and the screen was flying like a kite. We have shown this film in places where one channel had conked off.
- Why are we doing this? Why are we showing this film to whoever that invites us? In every institute, university? Because it’s not about the box office, trust me, I am not lying, the mathematics is not on our side. Even if every single person watches this film, this film cannot make the kind of money big films make. Then why are we doing this? The purpose to show this film is to make people realize, to make young students realize that the time has come to work in the direction of innovation. You have to work in a direction where this country can be an innovation hub of the world and that must happen now because we have a golden opportunity.
- The attempts to cancel our screenings have reached a figure where now I feel there is a conspiracy behind this pattern. Verbal attacks, ridicule, heckling, resistance, sabotage have been the attractions of this journey.
- Two Indias. One Revolution.