Director: Rahul Sankrityan
Cast: Vijay Deverakonda, Priyanka Jawalkar, Malavika Nair
How important is research in a film? Does Googling a few things alone qualify as R&D? It's a question that comes to mind after watching Vijay Deverakonda's Taxiwaala, a poorly-researched film that fails to bring freshness to an interesting concept.
Taxiwaala is about Shiva (Vijay Deverakonda), who comes to Hyderabad in search of a job after barely scraping through college. After trying his hand at various professions, he finally settles for a job as a cab driver. For this, Shiva gets his hands on a used car…but not an ordinary one. It has a mind of its own. It's said to be possessed.
How does Shiva's life change after that? Why is there a ghost in the car? These are questions the film tries to answer.
There is a dialogue in the movie where, Anu (played by Priyanka Jawalkar) says, "no educated man believes our story". In a sense, that dialogue holds true for the movie as well.
A lot of that is because of how far-removed from reality it is. The protagonist quits a job as a security guard because it's difficult for him to bend so many times a day. He then goes on to quit a food delivery job because his customers are not being nice to him. Even the reason he decides to take become a cabbie is because a friend tells him that, "cab drivers get paid more than software employees now." How true is that?
There's no heft to the points the film's trying to make. Everything seems generic. But it's most problematic when the same off-hand casualness extends to something as complex as 'Astral Projections'…that's when the film becomes bizarre.
The issue isn't necessarily with the concept, which can best be described as a 'willful out of body experience.' It's how little they've done with an idea with so many possibilities. Performances are melodramatic and so are the outdated set pieces. What's worse is how Vijay Deverakonda looks forced, playing the role of an everyday cabbie.
The film fails to go beyond the typical tropes of any other Telugu horror comedy. And how many times can we really watch the story of a female ghost seeking revenge for a 'lifetime' of sufferings? Add a few comedians to the mix and that's pretty much the formula Taxiwaala too has followed. There's even an unwanted love angle which further dampens the proceedings. Throw in the whole Astral Projection angle and one feels the audience has been taken for granted.
The director tries to also include moments of heroism for the star in Vijay Deverakonda but such scenes either feel forced or futile. Also, for a film about a possessed car, one never really gets why Shiva buys the thing in the first place.
The otherwise solid Vijay Deverakonda doesn't bring much to the film. His emotions are all shown, but we never feel them. Director Rahul Sankrityan doesn't fair well either and scores low on many fronts. He tries to be distinct but he fails to blend all these aspects into one unifying whole. The supporting cast too gets precious little to work with.
Taxiwala is a just another stereotypical horror comedy film which lacks groundwork, flair and novelty.