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'Taxiwaala' review: For a little more smartness

These boys and their affair with automobiles! It can be one heady romance. In Taxiwaala that signals the assured arrival of director Rahul Sankrityan, the protagonist Shiva (Vijay Deverakonda) gives a makeover to a run-down Contessa. Overnight, the once-abandoned car transforms into an eye candy befitting the garage that looks quite fancy. There’s a painting of Charlie Chaplin and you can spot Kill Bill and other film names in the background. Maybe it’s the director paying tribute to his favourite films and personalities. Aptly, there’s a sidekick called Hollywood (this diminutive, poker-faced actor Vishnu packs in quite some fun) who’s hooked to English films.

Taxiwaala
  • Cast: Vijay Deverakonda, Priyanka Jawalkar, Malvika Nair
  • Direction: Rahul Sankrityan
  • Music: Jakes Bejoy

Shiva (Vijay Deverakonda is in good form and delivers yet another winsome performance) takes several long looks at the car and declares it has a character of its own. Sure, it stands out from the regular cabs and rings in good fortune for Shiva, though the garage owner who’s his babai (Madhunandan in an effective role) smells something fishy.

The romance between Shiva and the car grows stronger, in fact that love-hate-love affair is better portrayed than the somewhat clumsy romance between Shiva and Anu (Priyanka Jawalkar, in a brief role). It’s one thing to thank a taxi driver for being helpful and not taking advantage of her inebriated condition, but to fall in love with him swiftly? The scenario seems logical only if you forget the character and factor in the star persona of the actor playing it. Simultaneously there’s Sid Sriram crooning ‘Maate vinaduga’ and working the charm, urging us to look past the misstep. But for this, the initial portions are great fun. The film begins with a mysterious incident and then develops into a delicious cocktail peppered with wry, self-deprecating humour. Jakes Bejoy’s music and Sujith Sarang’s cinematography contribute immensely to the narrative.

The mystery element of the car lends itself to some spooky fun. Thankfully, it isn’t a routine horror comedy. We can reference a few old films where a car had superpowers or hides within it some secret. But Taxiwaala spins a whole new tale, backing it up with a strong emotional hook.

However, the chinks in the armour surface in the later portions when the smart fun is replaced by gags and the emotional stretch gets flabby. There’s a solid back-story, which could have been narrated with more brevity. In these segments, Malvika Nair and Ravi Varma make an impact. Malvika is commendable as she looks strong willed and vulnerable, all at once.

Anything to do with paranormal powers is a tricky zone to tread on. It can come off as gimmicky or silly if not handled well. Sankrityan pulls it off quite well for the most part, though these episodes get prolonged. Some tightening and holding on to the smartness of the initial portions could have helped this film from getting tiresome.

Still, there’s a lot to appreciate in the film.


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Printable version | Sep 15, 2021 12:31:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/taxiwaala-is-a-cocktail-of-comedy-and-the-paranormal-with-a-hint-of-quirk/article25525253.ece

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