Taxi Taxie (1977)

July 14, 2016 11:21 pm | Updated 11:21 pm IST

Poster of "Taxi Taxie"

Poster of "Taxi Taxie"

Taxi Taxie….Taxi….It is a word lost in the mad rush of the metros. The yellow-black taxi is gradually becoming an endangered piece of history. Yes, cities like Mumbai and Kolkata continue to rely on this mode of transport even today but the taxis are being fast pushed out of business. Radio cabs are in vogue now unless you happen to step out of the airport to be greeted by the good old yellow-black taxi.

Hindi cinema has had a fascination for the yellow-black taxi. From Dev Anand’s “Taxi Driver” to Amitabh Bachchan’s “Khud-Daar” the taxi has enjoyed a special status. Nana Patekar loved his source of income and joy in “Taxi No 9211”. Mehmood played a lively driver who loves his taxi in “Sadhu Aur Shaitaan”. How can one forget Guru Dutt, the lovable Kalu, driving a Hillman taxi in “Aar-Paar” in then Bombay? Ghulam Hasan (Farooq Shaikh), forced to become a cabbie in “Gaman”, was a distinct taxi lover. He epitomised the migrant aspirant who come to a big city with a drive to make a good living but end up driving to survive.

Our man, Dev, also known as Hero, is a well-read individual played by Amol Palekar. He lives the character, who has a philosophical approach to life. He loses Neelam (Reena Roy), his lady love from college and comes to Bombay in search of nirvana. It eludes him and he finds refuge in a one-room tenement in a chawl and solace in meeting new people in his daily routine of driving them to their destinations. His landlady is Mrs. D’Sa, the good old Lalita Pawar, a master par excellence at playing such cameos.

The taxi is his beloved mate and he names her heroine. They go about their way merrily, sometimes accosted by unpleasant characters, sometimes by friendly souls. Dev spots a lonely lady at a bus stop, hailing his taxi. She, however, prefers to hop into a car, leaving the taxi driver cursing his fate. When he runs into her again, she remains nameless, for she indulges in the oldest profession of the world, Dev develops a soft corner for her. Even as he looks to more frequent meetings with her, Dev encounters a sweet singer, aspiring to make it big in the city of dreams.

Zaheera is Jyoti, who loves to sing, but has no platform to evoke public adulation for her voice. The good-hearted Dev tries to persuade her from looking to seek vocal pastures in the harsh film world. But Jyoti is firm and sticks to her resolve. Only to come to grief with the system which, as feared by Dev, is more interested in Jyoti than in her voice. Enter RV (Jalal Agha), his college mate who arrives in Bombay to become a composer.

A flashback tells us of Dev’s failed lover story with Neelam, who, incidentally, is also living in Bombay. They meet again but part ways for Neelam is settled in life. When Dev meets Jyoti after a gap she is a changed person –– weak and ill. “I’m afflicted with TB,” she informs him. The Samaritan that he is, Dev brings her home and pleads with his friend to give her a break. RV has managed to make some inroads into the world of music. Jyoti breaks into a bout of cough and RV reduces her to a mute spectator in the studio even as Asha Bhosle plays herself to come up with the classic “Layi Kahan Hai Zindagi.”

The story moves on. Dev meets the nameless passenger and even proposes to marry her. He, however, fails to reach the rendezvous on time and again ends up a dejected soul. But Mrs. D’Sa has plans for him. A wedding! When he peeps into the new taxi gifted by his landlady, Dev’s journey reaches a lovable stop. A vibrant Jyoti, in wedding attire and fully recovered from the ailment, welcomes him to a new world.

Palekar carries the film on his shoulders. He is at his best when emoting pain with minimal expressions. Also when sharing his experiences of life with a “filmi dialogue” mimicry to regale his passengers in the backseat. The seat next to him remains unoccupied until Jyoti takes her place.

“Taxi Taxie” is a delightful journey that captures the busy city life well and lets every individual enjoy his space. Even within the confines of the yellow-black piece of entertainment. No wonder Amitabh Bachchan once said in an interview he may have driven a taxi in Bombay if a film career had not worked for him.

Hailing a taxi is out of fashion now. They don’t figure in your phone app. But a “Taxi Taxie” rekindles nostalgia that is worth living on the screen.

Genre: Social drama

Director: Irshad

Cast: Amol Palekar, Zaheera, Reena Roy, Rama Vij, Jalal Aga, Anjali Paigankar, Asha Bhosle, Aruna Irani, Lalita Pawar, Tun Tun

Written by: Irshad

Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri

Music: Hemant Bhosle

Box office status: Hit

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