Vikram Pandit (Arunoday Singh) an MBA student is singled out for his intensity by his professor Ranjan Batki (Anupam Kher) for his determination to make a difference in society. Pandit had only recently blazed across social media to hit back at moral policing in night clubs through his 'Pink Bra' campaign.
That campaign, picked from a real life incident which happened in Mangalore (the Pink Chaddi campaign) a few years ago, shamed the people behind moral policing. Soon Pandit learns that overzealous moral police affiliated to political parties are not the only ones vitiating the atmosphere in the country. There are other issues as well: of socialism and capitalism and Naxals and Maoists and middlemen who wipe away the profits of poor the tribals.
There is an NGO, the Potters Club, headed by the professor's wife Sheetal (Pallavi Joshi) which does its bit for the poor tribals in Bastar. They are looking forward to a huge government grant for the tribal people. However, with the increasing cases of Naxalite attack on civilians the Government decides to stop funding of NGOs because they believe that these funds reach the anti-social elements. It's best to cut their lifeline. That's their thinking.
Coming back to Pandit and the interest in professor Batki in him, he is given the task along with his batch-mates to come up with a plan to sell the pots to make up for the loss of the government grant. But when Pandit comes up with an idea that is a sure shot winner, his professor decides that it is a 'risk not worth taking'. He defines it as having political undertones, when all the student did was put his energetic and dynamic mind at play. Sheetal, however, cannot see reason behind her husband's abrupt dismissal of a brilliant idea.
Welcome to Vivek Agnihotri's world of politics of the most understated kind. It has to be a first wherein a movie with such powerful political connotations is underplayed to a nicety until it builds up to a crescendo to throw a plethora of emotions at the viewer who is left dumbfounded at the sheer pace and manner in which the plot is unraveled. Beneath the thin layer of pretense lies a thick veneer of deceit.
At every turn there is a twist, but that is so well nuanced that it takes a trained eye to pick the cue. There is a jam up ahead in which our Buddha is headed. But how he gets out of it is what is more enlightening that how he got into it.
On screen, Agnihotri brings in India at play. There's moral policing, student party, Naxal movement besides police and government harassment of the poor tribals. Then, there are the outsiders, the urban youth, who want to make a difference but who are soon silenced, branded as traitors themselves. This turn of events is too hot for comfort for Pandit who just wants to make a difference.
The key players are portrayed well by Agnihotri. Watching Pallavi Joshi on screen after ages is a delight. The actor charms her way with perfect timing to bring in that softness to this otherwise hard film. Her body language, dialogue delivery and range of emotions are all in balance.
Anupam Kher does what he does best and that is enact a complex role with ease. After a long, long time, one sees him portray a character that befits his talent and Kher does perfect justice to his role as a professor. Catch him speak off and on to his dad over the phone who is always inquiring about his pension. ''Corruption is good,'' Professor Batki tells his students ''as it greases the wheels of economy.'' His students, however, do not agree, especially Pandit.
Arunoday Singh does a class act as the bright lad with an answer to any situation. A complete change from the psycho he played in MAIN TERA HERO
. His bewilderment at the turn of events puts in sharp focus the dilemma of many of our youngsters today who want to make a shift in thinking in modern India. But are they allowed?
The harassment of a tribal family by the powers that be and the Naxalites highlights their no-win situation. The exploitation of their craft where they receive just Re 1 from the Rs 100 sale is something that has been happening over the ages. Same is the case with farmers.
Knock off the middlemen, and the tribals will be a happy lot. But are the tribal people really our concern? These and many more questions will be left unanswered as you leave the theatre after watching this 'mentally stimulating fare'.
BUDDHA CAUGHT IN A TRAFFIC JAM could be you... or me!
Terrific, Vivek Agnihotri!