I always enjoy watching those movies when the girl of the family has to step up to become the breadwinner due to the dad becoming incapacitated, and Rickshaw Girl was exactly that type of movie with the setting being in Bangladesh for once.
You are introduced to Naima (played by Novera Rahman) who is painting a mural for some local house, and naturally, you see her get scammed from the original pay promised for the work accomplished. You learn very quickly she is a talented slum artist and you are brought to explore the hardships she and her family are going through. In this case, it’s her dad who comes home sick after driving his rickshaw, not being able to pay the dues on renting the rickshaw, and of course, getting the medicine he needs to become healthy again.
Naima decides this is her time to step up and support her family. She insists her local friend Barek (played by Allen Shubro) takes her to the city even though she is a complete country bumpkin and is very naive about city life. He manages to get her a maid gig for a middle class couple, but she feels like it was a prison and runs away the moment the front door is opened. Naima leaves the least laborious job but she is determined to find something else. In the city, she does a series of odd jobs until one day stumbles into a Rickshaw depot and the manager explains to her the only way she can be employed is if she’s a man otherwise get lost.
Naima, with the help of some people’s laundry and cutting, disguises herself as a boy named Naim, who meets the basic requirements of becoming a rickshaw driver. She gets lucky that a rickshaw driver has broken down close to her and goes to assist him in bringing the cart back to the Rickshaw depot where she had originally wanted to work as a “girl”. Naima gets the gig fairly quickly and finds out it’s a very laborious task but since her dad was a rickshaw driver she can do it too! She does not give up her dreams to become an artist either so naturally she decorates her rickshaw to be the most beautiful one in the company.
Getting rides was one thing but starting as a movie extra with a famous Bangladesh actor was even better because her rickshaw was the best outside the lot, which caused trouble with the guy who originally got her the gig in the first place. This was when I was shaking my head going “This is where your naiveness kicks in” which causes trouble at the rickshaw depot and loses her job unfortunately due to it.
Going back to homelessness in the city she is seen by one of the rickshaw aunties and is given a place to sleep for one night. The auntie slips in that she has artwork for rickshaws by the last artist that was horrible and here is where the box of “art” is. Naturally, Naima takes the night to make the horrible pieces look like masterpieces, which to the auntie’s shock she was able to sell them now for a very decent price. She then pays Naima her fair share for the work completed.
Naima, thrilled with the amount of money she had made from the art sales, decides she can finally go home to help her father only to find out the worst news from Barek that her father passed away the day before. Stricken with grief she just runs away, and then you are taken on a rickshaw father-daughter 3D magical ride.
The pacing of this movie was a bit dragged out in some scenes, and the language switching around sometimes just threw you completely off guard. I was not sure if the English was intentional or if it was dubbed afterward?
Rickshaw Girl is about keeping to your dream even when life throws all odds against you, but also being realistic about how you get to accomplish that dream eventually with hard work, determination, and a bit of luck. I would recommend this movie to all ages to watch and enjoy.
The movie pacing might be difficult for some but I think it was alright even though some scenes were dragged out, and the English to Bengali interchanging sometimes made the English look oddly dubbed. The subtitles only would appear for the main characters speaking Bengali instead of everyone which was unfortunate. But overall I enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to everyone, a story about a girl’s determination and the journey she goes on to get to her end goal.
My grade: B
Rickshaw Girl is now streaming on various platforms including Apple TV+, Prime Video, and more.
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