Driver Jamuna Fights To Survive But Often Takes The Bumpy Road

What the thriller lacks in momentum, it makes up for in brilliant performances by Aishwarya Rajesh and Abhishek Kumar
Driver Jamuna Fights To Survive But Often Takes The Bumpy Road

Director: P Kinslin

Cast: Aishwarya Rajesh, Abhishek Kumar, Aadukalam Naren, Kavitha Bharathi

When a man has a sickle and another has a gun, who has a better shot at harming the other? My money would be on the man with a gun, especially since he is a trained police officer. But in Driver Jamuna, the armed man aims the gun at a contract killer and waits, only for the latter to cut the gunman's entire hand. After lingering on this gruesome image of a chopped hand holding a gun, the camera shifts to depict a shuddering Aishwarya Rajesh as another police officer walks in, leaving the background noise of gunshots and fights to tell us the story. But when the sounds crescendo, both men are left unharmed. So, what is actually going on?

Driver Jamuna is not a film about women drivers. Jamuna (Aishwarya Rajesh) is a cab driver, who happens to take a shared ride with a musician (Abishek Kumar) and three other men travelling to a wedding function. But as it turns out, the three passengers are contract killers enroute to take down an ex-MLA. Caught between the goons and police, Jamuna tries to survive and also save others. 

The premise makes for a thrilling ride, and when the goons realise that Jamuna has learned their true identity, the cab picks up speed. There are nice little touches on how Jamuna finds out about them, how she helps the musician escape, etc. The scene where Jamuna saves everyone from a major accident is quite exciting to watch. As a driver, she tends to think fast and react quickly under pressure. But the same can’t be said about the film. 

Take the scene where Jamuna is forced at point blank to reach a place within five minutes, which usually takes ten. While the film could have easily mounted on the tension, it fails as it shifts to a scene at the ex-MLA’s house and then crams it with flashback cuts of Jamuna’s past. So, the five-minute drive plays out for at least 15 minutes in the film, and the viewer no longer feels the pressure of a ticking clock when the film eventually comes back to it. Similarly, there is a lot of sentiment packed into the film. Apart from dealing with killers in her ride, Jamuna is also dealing with the loss of her father, an ailing mother and an absconding brother. Although these emotions let us understand the psyche of Jamuna and make for a convincing backstory, the placing of these details acts as a roadblock in the film’s thrilling moments. 

In a film that attempts to induce tension, the social media star and comedian Abhishek Kumar plays the ambitious musician, adding to a fun track. From his attempts at making ominous music in the cab, ignorant of what's about to hit him to his hilarious change in demeanour when he finally learns about the criminals, the comedian is a treat to watch.

Even if some of Jamuna’s decisions seem stupid at one point, the climax loads up one twist after another, connecting the dots. This is also why the climax and the scenes building up to it depict the best of what a film like Driver Jamuna can offer. And at times when the film struggles to deliver, Aishwarya Rajesh backs it up with her performance. Carrying the entire film on her shoulders, she needs to be credited for pulling off heroic acts with massy fun. 

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