Noise: A disturbing movie about Displaced Anger
Awareness Social

Noise: A disturbing movie about Displaced Anger


Your anger will pass. But your mean words can scar a person for life.

Sandhya Ram Mahindra’s short movie Noise foregrounds the ill effects of displaced aggression and illustrates how anger pollutes the emotional environment. A poignant, disturbing movie portraying the ruination of a rickshawala brought about by anger. Noise is a confirmation of the personal and social dangers accompanying human anger.

What is Displaced Anger?

Based on her reading of the American Psychological Association’s definition of ‘displaced anger’ and ‘displaced aggression’, Ashley Olivine writes, Displaced (or misplaced) anger is when someone transfers their anger to someone or something other than what initially triggered it. [. . .] . Displaced anger can lead to displaced aggression—physical or emotional hostility toward someone or something other than the initial trigger.

Summary of Noise and a critical appreciation of the movie

Noise opens at dawn, as a sober-looking, poverty-stricken, guileless tricycle rickshawala is seen carrying people’s luggage on his back, pedalling passengers and their belongings, along steep roads, and ends at night as darkness and gloom descend on the rickshawala’s soul as he transforms into a criminal. Noise’s main plot which follows the rickshawala’s movements through some unnamed city in India is intercut by the wanderings and interactions of other characters.

The subplot sets off with a quarrel between a husband and wife. Having broken matrimonial ties with his wife, the husband leaves the house in a grumpy mood, and starts walking on the road while simultaneously speaking over his mobile phone, and accidentally shoves a man buying vegetables and instead of apologizing for his mistake walks away spouting expletives.

In effect, regrettably, he sets off a domino effect as anger gathers speed as the baton of anger passes from one individual to another—an altercation between the bus passenger (formerly the vegetable customer) and bus conductor, between the bus driver and a car driver ensue followed by the car drivers ranting at and slapping the rickshawala in broad daylight—and culminates with the rickshawala’s scuffle with a roadside food stall owner at night. In a state of inebriation and in a fit of rage, the rickshawala stabs the stall owner, and with this unsettling scene, the film ends.

The rickshawala’s humane connection with an adolescent girl who hires his rickshaw serves as a contrast to acts of violence, aggression and agitation that otherwise predominate the movie. The only sliver of human compassion the rickshawala receives is from this girl. The girl buys him food; her humane gesture cheers him up. It is heartening to watch them forge a friendship beyond class, gender and generation barriers.

In an otherwise noisy, cold world, the girl and the rickshawala’s relationship offers hope, peace and warmth of humanity. However, their enjoyment of each other’s company is short-lived as they suddenly encounter the reckless car driver. The girl is reduced to tears and shocked to see the rickshwala become a victim of somebody’s wanton expression of rage and that bystanders witness the scene but don’t come to the rescue of a hapless common man who is at the receiving end of somebody’s ire.

The emotionally- and ego-bruised rickshawala’s engagement in out-of-character violence brings the movie to a stunner of a conclusion. His crime is unjustifiable and condemnable. There are no details in Noise indicating the rickshawala is a hardened murderer. Circumstances had conspired to throw a short-tempered man in the path of the rickshawala. The rickshawala becomes a punching bag for this man who has engaged in negligent and reckless driving (talking over his mobile phone while driving); the rickshawala mutely endures the indignities heaped on him by the latter. The rickshawala commits the crime in a state of murderous frenzy to avenge for the humiliation he had suffered at the hands of a stranger earlier in the day.

Regrettably, the rickshawala hits the bottle (drinking alcohol is an unhealthy coping mechanism to alleviate stress) to cope with the emotional turmoil caused by an encounter he had with a violent man. His facial expressions and actions betray feelings of self-revulsion, dejection and inconsolable anger indicating his difficulty in making peace with memories of being publicly disgraced by a stranger. On the rear end of his cycle rickshaw the following message is painted: “Bair se bair shanth nahi hota,/ Shama evam prem se shanth hota hain”, meaning hatred cannot diminish hatred, instead forgiveness and love can neutralize hatred (my translation)—what a profound life-enriching philosophy. Ironically and lamentably, the rickshawala himself fails to have grace under fire.

Noise as a commentary on human anger sums up the Butterfly Effect theory coined by Edward Lorenz in the following words: The butterfly effect rests on the notion that the world is deeply interconnected, such that one small occurrence can influence a much larger complex system. The effect is named after an allegory for chaos theory; it evokes the idea that a small butterfly flapping its wings could, hypothetically, cause a typhoon.

Noise is a metaphor for a dysfunctional and restive society. ‘Noise’ is not just external to human beings but it significantly and regrettably refers to the internal chatter and chaos that rattles the inner being of most people. In Noise, anger is shown to rob the characters of their capacity to think and act sensibly. Importantly, all the characters are nameless. This suggests that anger is a universal emotion and has no religion, caste or gender.

Related: The Darker side of Our Emotions

Each character is wrestling with their own worries and concerns. The film applies the butterfly effect theory onto the life of the rickshawala by illustrating how anger and stress that got transferred from one person to another finally ended up altering the life course of the rickshawala. None of the individuals in the anger chain can predict the negative consequences of their angry outbursts; they are oblivious to how their anger has upended the life of some stranger. The rickshawala’s crime may have even sparked mob violence; thankfully the film doesn’t explore this possibility. Had the spatting individuals resolved their discord between themselves more amicably and each one in the anger chain had contained their anger, things might have been different.

Related: Managing Rage: Triggers and Anger Management Strategies

Noise holds up a mirror to the growing emotional toxicity, and depletion of gentleness and politeness, lack of empathy and lesser civil interactions in our society. One recoils looking at how the characters behave in unreasonable and uncouth ways in response to perceived slights to their self-respect and ego either from their kin, acquaintances or strangers. Their angry outbursts, and cussing for no apparent reason and manhandling of others, whose words have hit their raw nerve, are frightening. Isn’t this something that we witness and experience in real life? In fact, such fights are a common sight in our vehicle parking areas. Their behaviour also suggests how many of us barely know about healthy ways of coping with stress.

Related:The Relation Between Your Stress and Gut

Noise raises certain despairing thoughts in our minds about the human society that can be savage and uncivilized and makes us lose faith in the power of non-violence to outdo violence. How do we understand a world where an individual inflicts violence on another individual as per their whim and without any provocation from the victim? Noise warns loud and clear about anger’s detrimental effect on the emotional health of the society.

Without being overtly preachy, Noise suggests that appropriate management of anger at an individual level is an undertaking that benefits not just the individual but the whole society. I can’t guarantee that after watching the film there will be a seismic shift in your volcanic temper. I know that those given to angry bouts can’t control their anger overnight. It’s easier said than done. I only wish my anger doesn’t ruin anybody’s life. We need to learn to be more assertive and less aggressive.

Read More: From Overwhelm to Balance: Navigating the Digital Noise in Modern Life

References +
  • Source is Internet
  • Noise is available for viewing on The lead actors are Munna Lohar and Stuti Agarwal. No permission has been taken from the film makers for the analysis of this film. However, the film has been suitably cited.
  • Brahma Kumari Shivani refers to anger as a negative emotion and pollutant.
  • Read the transcript of Ethan Kross’ “What to do if your inner voice is cruel” on
  • In his book Maximum City: Bombay Lost & Found, Suketu Mehta is spot on when he writes, “[t]he wars of the twentieth-first century will be fought over parking places.”

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