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Rickshaw Girl

Bangladesh / USA / Germany 2021
produced by
Eric J. Adams, Faridur Reza Sagar, Ziauddin Adil, Michel Vandewalle (executive), Md Assaduzzaman (executive), Shihab Ahmed Shirazee (executive), Mojibul Mohon (supervising) for atlas international, Sleeperwave Films, Half Stop Down
directed by Amitabh Reza Chowdhury
starring Novera Rahman, Momena Chowdhury, Gulshan Ara Akter Champa, Allen Shubhro, Naresh Bhuiyan, Jahangir Alam, Ashok Bepari, Nasir Uddin Khan, Mowmi, Dominic Gomes, Sabita Dash, Mahjabin Reza Chowdhury, Fawzia Afrin, Asif Islam, Rezvi Hossain Sakhawat, Siam Ahmed
screenplay by Naseef Amin, Sharbari Z. Ahmed, based on the novel by Mitali Perkins, music director: Debojyoti Mishra, rickshaw painter: Solaiman Hossain

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Teenaged Naima (Novera Rahman) wasn't very successful at school so she left at an early age, but she loves to pain, and she's really good at it, too. Plus, her father (Naresh Bhuiyan) couldn't be prouder of the artwork she has done for his rickshaw. Unfortunately, she lives in a poor Bangladeshi village, and her parents aren't exactly blessed with money, so becoming an artist seems nothing more than a pipedream for Naima. And then her father falls ill, the local moneylender (Nasir Uddin Khan) confiscates his rickshaw, and he needs medicine badly to sufvive. Being forced to make money for her family and with no prospects of finding a job in the village, Naima persuades her best friend Barek (Allen Shubhro) to take her to the big city, where she first tries to work as a maid, but is simply overwhelmed with the requirements of modern urban life, so she runs away from the job only half a day in. Next she hooks up with a group of homeless street kids who make a living mainly by joining protests for money, never knowing what for or against they're even protesting. But then Naima finds the job that seems to be cut out for her (other than painting) - pulling a rickshaw. After all, her father has taught her everything about the trade. Thing is, the boss (Ashok Bepari) of the company she applies to won't hire girls, so she dresses up as a guy to get the job. And while the days are hard, she still finds time and energy during the night to paint her rickshaw. And her nicely painted, colourful rickshaw gets her (and the rickshaw) an extra role in a film of her favourite moviestar, Siam Ahmed (himself). And when Siam praises her artwork and tips her, she couldn't be happier - until a colleague (Jahangir Alam) tries to steal that money, finds out she's a girl and spills the beans to their boss. And suddenly, Naima's out of a job again, pretty much broke and broken, and with little chance to make it in the city, or make it back to her hometown for that matter ...

 

Rickshaw Girl is a very touching piece of world cinema (as in, social drama in exotic settings), as it goes beyond the confines of what would come to expect from a film like this and lends it a certain artistic, even dreamlike character through Naima's paintings. Plus, the story is very engagingly told, very to the point, doesn't fall into the traps of ethno-kitsch, and doesn't try to bring its message across, sledehammer-style. And young Novera Rahman gives a strong central performance, supported by an able ensemble, all making this a film well worth a watch or two.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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