Today in the on going Chennai International Film Festival I saw Taxi (2015). What powerful and bold story telling!. A must watch for anyone who likes good movies and cares about the society we live in.
Taxi (2015) runs for 80 minutes, filmed entirely from cameras placed inside a running car (Taxi) in Tehran, Iran. Directed by Jafar Panahi, who is banned from 2010 to make films has used this technique to circumvent the ban. The story happens over half-a-day in the life of a taxi driver in Tehran, the taxi driver being Jafar Panahi as himself. We see people from different walks of life in the city get in and get out of his taxi as passengers.
The first passenger we see is a man who gets in to the taxi which already has a lady client in the backseat. The man spotting the video camera and identifying it to be a security device is our clue on how the film is taken. He talks about the rising theft in the city due to unemployment and he advocates death penalty, which the lady questions as extreme measures. The lady rightfully seems to have identified the man himself to be a petty criminal. Then we see a lady and her husband who is bleeding after an accident get in the taxi, the man narrating his “property” will to the camera owned by Panahi, in which he begs his brothers to leave her wife with all his belongings and not claim any share. A nice touch was when after few minutes of the wounded man admitted to a local hospital, the lady calls Panahi in his phone to verify that he has given the correct number so that she could later retrieve the video.
A social activist who is known to Panahi narrates how life is difficult for civic society activists to navigate prevailing justice system in Iran. Two old ladies wants the taxi to be rushed through traffic so that they can leave their lucky charm fishes in the lake before the auspicious time. We see a businessman whose store is robbed by a couple known to him and still he is not pressing charges feeling pity for the culprit. One of the passengers is a man who sells pirated DVDs, to bring credibility for his business to one of his customers he claims Panahi to be his partner. When we see the pirate first, he introduces himself to Panahi as the one who has been helping him to make films by supplying him movie DVDs!.
The character that steals our heart is his young niece, a 11 year old girl Ms.Hana, who is tasked by her teacher to make a “distributable” film. She then resides the rules told by her teacher which are mere echo of Iranian Religious police, rules which when violated renders a film “un-distributable”.