Director: A. Lakshmikanthan
Cast: Pasupathi, Ajmal, Simran, Meenakshi
Storyline: When a bitter taxi-driver picks up a spoilt rich-kid, their lives change for worse.
Bottomline: Taxi Number 9211 minus the fun.
There’s always something that’s lost in translation.
GV Films production Tha Na 07 Ah La 4777 loses pace and humour from the Hindi original. In fact, the only things that irk the film are the few original touches added by the director who has also been nice enough (to himself) to credit himself for the writing.
Since when did remake rights translate to hogging credit for someone else’s story, screenplay and quite a bit of dialogue?
Milan Luthria’s film written by Rajat Arora, roughly translated to us by A. Lakshmikanthan is certainly watchable, but only because of its cast.
Taxi-driver Mani (Pasupathi) here is a Sri Rama Sene recruit, he can’t bear the sight of young lovers coochie-cooing. He’s also a compulsive slapper and like most poor people in Tamil cinema, owes money to a Tamil-speaking settu. He also happens to be a call taxi driver who picks up customers on his own maybe because he is not really a call taxi drivers who takes instructions over radio. And we never get to find out because the director never got a chance to make up his mind.
Never mind, the film begins with a double dose of songs and the only thing funny about the first act is Vijay Antony taking himself seriously as a radical music director (he claims to have invented the gaana-rap with the peppy Aathichudi).
Gautham (Ajmal) is the typical filmi rich-kid. Anyway, so Lakshmikanthan employs songs to establish character but it is a little difficult to tell the two protagonists apart except for costume and preferred form of dance, because they both seem to love rap and alcohol. They both drink and drive over the same flyover.
Finally, after this initial starting problem, the taxi takes off and stays faithful to the original, to our relief.
Both the leading men, Pasupathi and Ajmal, are at their best when they have to be subtle and realistic and it’s only during the screaming and the drama that you can see a conventional Tamil filmmaker at work, asking them to play it up for the masses.
However, the second half of the film is surprisingly naturalistic as the actors decide to stay faithful to the vision of the original and bring about a heartwarming climax. Pasupathi excels here and Ajmal too underplays it with refreshing restraint.
Simran is first rate, and turns in a finely nuanced performance, efficiently dramatic without ever turning on the histrionics while Meenakshi keeps you guessing if she’s a miracle of reverse-aging, and nearly convinces you that it is good old Meena with a make-over and weight-loss, trying to reboot her career with a new name.
Overall, it’s a ride you won’t mind being taken on. But only because it’s Pasupathi who’s driving. And hey, Ajmal’s not bad company at all.