Taxiwaala movie cast: Vijay Deverakonda, Priyanka Jawalkar, Vishnu
Taxiwaala movie director: Rahul Sankrityan
Taxiwaala movie rating: 2.5 stars
Taxiwaala was supposed to be Vijay Deverakonda’s next release after Arjun Reddy (2017). But the release was postponed for post-production reasons. Between Arjun Reddy and NOTA, Vijay’s popularity and his onscreen image has undergone a significant change. His targeted audience is not just the young crowd that enjoys a hero that curses, doesn’t hesitate to kiss women on lips (multiple times) and undermine the censor board’s statutory warning about smoking and drinking. He became a ‘family hero’ by playing the poster boy of Indian sanskar in Geetha Govindam. And he connected with the masses by projecting the collective anger against the country’s corrupt political system in NOTA.
Rahul Sankrityan directorial Taxiwaala has something to offer to all Vijay fans. In the film, Vijay plays a middle-class youth called Shiva, who is poor in academics but aspires to find a high-paying job. He comes to Hyderabad in search of his dream job. He seeks the help of his ‘Uncle’ who runs an auto repair shop called “Uncle Care Cars.” After a couple of unsatisfying jobs, Shiva finally finds his calling – driving other people towards their destinations – taxi driver.
The film helps Vijay Deverakonda maintain his new ‘family hero’ tag by bringing in the ‘Amma’ sentiment to the equation. Hi sister-in-law, who is expecting a baby, pledges her gold ornaments to fund Shiva’s business. Shiva next runs into an out-of-production Contessa car and its owner who is willing to sell it at throw away price. Cut to next scene, Shiva is a happy person, making Rs 15, 000 per week and dating a beautiful doctor, Anu (Priyanka Jawalkar). But, the romantic scenes in Taxiwala does not have the same intensity or passion that we saw in Arjun Reddy. Now that Vijay has to worry about getting a ‘U’ certificate, he avoids kissing onscreen. So much so that in a scene when Anu leans forward to kiss him, Shiva politely refuses her overtures saying, “They are watching us.”
Shiva is on a roll and he even finances his sister-in-law’s hospital visits. All of a sudden his car begins to act strangely, leaving Shiva cowering in the driver’s seat. Things get more complicated when the car kills one of Shiva’s passengers.
Rahul Sankrityan puts a scientific spin on the supernatural drama even as he has made a textbook horror comedy. He invokes Bhagavad Gita- Chapter 2, Verse 22 to support the premise of his movie: soul never dies, it changes the body. He also gets a mind doctor to explain the concept of Astral projection.
Barring a few glaring gaps in the story, Rahul has managed to whip up a pretty decent potboiler that leans heavily on Vijay Deverakonda’s charms and his newfound stardom. He has solved many problems in his script while rearranging the film in the editing room. Some cuts (by Sreejith Sarang) are visible as the transition from one scene to the next is jumpy. But the smart cuts have kept the movie from lagging. And Rahul has also tried to dilute the melodrama in the movie as much as possible, if not completely get rid of it.
The comedy deserves a lion’s share in making this film watchable. Saikumar Reddy has written some neat situational comedy, which aids Vijay’s fish-out-of-water performance. Vishnu as ‘Hollywood’ shines in comedy scenes. Priyanka Jawalkar’s role was to look pretty on screen and she has done it very naturally. Actor Yamuna pulls off a very moving physical performance in a tragic flashback scene.