Naima (Novera Rahman) lives in what you may call the slums in India. Her father is a rickshaw driver and is the breadwinner of the family, but Naima does her best to help with the responsibilities. She’s a very good artist and her passion lies in painting, but that doesn’t pay for the things that the family needs, so she tries to do what she can.
Then one day Naima’s father falls ill and Naima is thrust into the role of the provider. However, deep down she knows what she can do to make the most money, if only she was allowed.
Rickshaw Girl is a drama directed by Amitabh Reza Chowdhury from a script by Shabari Z. Ahmed, adapted from the novel by Mitali Perkins. A story as old as time which may evoke something like Twelfth Night in its summary, although Rickshaw Girl is not exactly the high concept comedy of errors that audiences may be expecting.
Instead, director Chowdhury takes his time in showing Naima’s life and the things around her which make it good. There’s so often a tendency to show India as a poverty-stricken country where danger lurks around every corner, but Rickshaw Girl shows a more softened version.
However, this also means that Rickshaw Girl feels like a painting of India like in Naima’s works of art rather than something more substantial. The audience are told about the sexism that surrounds the workplace and Naima’s love of art is also talked about, but there really isn’t enough to make the audience believe in it.
What they get is a depiction of India which may as well have been made for the Indian tourist board. That’s because although India seems to have its problems, what is shown is that it’s not all that bad if you take time to smell the roses.
Not quite Slumdog Millionaire and thankfully not The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Rickshaw Girl still feels like a movie made for an audience intending to go to India but have never been. The story stays at surface level and there are very little attempts to really make the audience care for Naima. Perhaps a movie meant to hang on the wall rather than something to get your teeth into.
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