Sunday, September 11, 2016

Taxi- Jafar Panahi

Jafar Panahi's Taxi is an absolute treat for the thinking kind of audience. i got to watch the movie at the inauguration of Kovai Film society. The movie's premise looks disarmingly simple and woven around a candid camera fixed in a Taxi, but provides scope for loads and loads of contemplation for the inclined. The context of the movie lays around the phenomena of candid camera that's become quite popular on television these days. But Panahi has taken this powerful device to explore a full length feature film. The result is delicious food for the mind. 

Panahi starts off driving a Taxi and takes in a bunch of passengers on his way to pick up his niece from school and meet up with a neighbor. The different characters that hop in and hop out of the Taxi, their experience, conversations, behavior as captured unawares by the candid camera forms one part of the movie. 

This part is very experimental in nature, and the viewer is left guessing if this was really a candid work or a staged one. i tended to believe and be convinced that it was a candid one. it was funny to see how different characters behaved. a teacher and a self declared mugger argue about capital punishment, a wailing wife of an injured man is more concerned about the video footage of the last will that the man leaves behind, than the man's recovery. There are no judgmental interfences from the director, its all left to the viewer's take.

a video supplier and buyer are captured. it was interesting to see the coming together of a creator, a fan and a pirate seller come together on screen. these intersections give rise to some profound and thought provoking dialogues ( not verbatim) like,' all these books and films have already been made, its worthwhile to find something that has not been said are approached' and  ' the toughest part is always where to begin'.

The other part of the movie starts when the niece comes in and brings in a very contemplative mood to the movie. Now the movie transforms into a dialogue on the state of censorship in the country. Dictates like give the good charecters the names of holy men, and what they should wear and look like all have been interestingly packed in the punch of a kid's gloves. Its all the more beautifully done as a dialogue between the child and her uncle. Panahi's niece Hana as the child is adorable and brilliant in her portrayal. And Panahi himself carries himself with great gentleness and composure through out the movie.
Jafar Panahi in Taxi

Talking of the dictates of how the movie can't portray sordid realism, a lawyer Character walks in and takes the dialogue further to its best. when she says,' the authorities begin by branding you an agent of some foreign hand, and then bring in charges of morality and then make all your friends your enemies and make you feel like you want to get out of the country', a reflection of the suffocating atmosphere in which people like Panahi operate in. She could as well be speaking for any country where cultural fascism and hegemony are prevalent.

 There are a couple of interesting branches the story takes in the second half in the form of a rag picker's conundrum with some accidentally found money and a man's experience at the hands of swindlers and how he comes to terms. The movie finally ends in an ironic note, leaving us wondering how much of the movie was candid?

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