Review: Taxi No. 9211

May 12, 2006 at 2:09 AM (Movies)

All the Hindi movies I’ve seen recently have been really good, with the exception of one.  The good ones were Zinda (though a copy of Oldboy, it was well done), Bluffmaster (really enjoyable), Darna Zaroori Hai (great fun), and My Wife’s Murder (nice thriller).  The stinker in the lot was the Hindi Fight Club (fortunately, this had nothing to do with David Fincher’s brilliant film except the name) where I got the feeling the filmmakers were just making up the movie as they went along.  (Earlier, I also watched Dus, which just wasn’t very well made.)

Taxi No. 9211 falls in the first group, as it’s a very well made, well acted and directed movie.  I just watched this on DVD — it’s from the makers of Bluffmaster, and is even better than that film.  It begins with a narration provided by Sanjay Dutt, introducing us to the central characters of the film.  Raghav Shastri (Nana Patekar) lives in Mumbai with his wife (Sonali Kulkarni) and child, and is unable to make ends meet (in fact, he owes more than Rs. 30,000 to the man who runs the taxi service).  He has switched 23 jobs in 15 years as he is unable to get along with anybody.  He works as a cab driver, but lies to his wife that he’s an insurance salesman.  Jai Mittal (John Abraham) is the son of a wealthy businessman.  But Jai is now in a situation that could change his life forever — when Jai’s father died, he left all his wealth and possessions not to his own son, but to another businessman.  However, Jai has in his possession another (presumably, earlier) will written by his father, leaving all his wealth to his son (I didn’t know this was possible).  Jai must produce this document in court in order to claim the wealth.

The morning he is due to appear in court, Jai has to go by cab.  He has to pick up the will from his bank vault, and then meet his fiance Rupali (Sameera Reddy) and lawyer in court.  As fate would have it, it’s Raghav’s cab (the titular Taxi No. 9211) he gets into.  He goads Raghav to drive faster, giving him money to skip traffic signals.  Unfortunately an accident happens, and Jai leaves the scene and goes off to the bank — only to discover that his vault key has fallen into the seat of Raghav’s taxi.

Thus begins a "war" between Jai and Raghav — Jai is desperate to get the key from Raghav, Raghav loathes Jai and his kind, and will do anything to taunt him (but stands to lose his family in the process).  What will happen at the end of it all?

Taxi No. 9211 is written by Rajat Arora and directed by Milan Luthria.  As I mentioned earlier, the acting is very good (Nana Patekar is awesome), and an urgent, almost intense tone is maintained throughout.  While the movie begins as a comedy, it certainly is very dark at times.  Thanks to a good script, the blending of serious/comedic tones is pulled off very well — this maintains the viewer’s interest and serves as a very interesting character study.

The movie takes inspiration from the Ben Affleck/Samuel L. Jackson starrer Changing Lanes, which I haven’t seen.  I don’t know how much similarity is there between the two movies, but from what I’ve read, the two movies seem to be largely different.  Anyway, I really enjoyed Taxi No. 9211.

Rating: 8/10


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