This is the second article in our series about Bollywood Interpretations of Hollywood Films. In the desi tradition of using short forms, going forward, we will use our phrase Bolly-Holly (copyright of and by CinemaRasik) for this category.
Changing Lanes is a 2002 film that stars Ben Affleck and Samuel Jackson. IMDB (www.imdb.com) describes the film as “The story of what happens one day in New York when a young lawyer and a businessman share a small automobile accident on F.D.R. Drive and their mutual road rage escalates into a feud.”
Samuel Jackson, one of our favorite actors, was nominated for three awards for his role and Ben Affleck for one award. Read the full summary of the movie at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0264472/plotsummary
Taxi No. 9211 is an adaptation of Changing Lanes to the Mumbai scene. The summary of this movie can be found at http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/349575/Taxi-9211/overview
Just a casual reading of the two summaries should be enough to persuade you that Taxi No. 9211 is not an interpretation but an adaptation.
Yet, Taxi no. 9211 proves to be a superior movie in every way. Surprisingly, the adapted story is tighter and more realistic than the original. The dialog is more crisp and witty. Even the action scenes are better choreographed in the Bollywood version, especially the scene in which John Abraham/Ben Affleck character is caught in the middle of a multi-lane expressway and has to scramble to avoid the fast moving traffic.
Nana Patekar is simply wonderful as Raghu Shastri, an ex-insurance salesman (like Samuel Jackson) and now a crabby, volatile taxi-driver who drinks more than he should. John Abraham, the young and irresponsible scion of a wealthy industrialist, is rushing to get to court for a hearing of his Father’s will. He jumps in to Nana Patekar’s taxi and forces him (via money, taunts etc.) to drive recklessly fast. Naturally, the taxi hits another car at a crossing. Abraham jumps out and catches another cab. Patekar is arrested by the police. In his haste to get away, Abraham drops the key to his safe deposit vault (where his father’s will is kept) in Patekar’s taxi and has to go to see Patekar in jail. Now begins a mutually escalating cycle of actions between Patekar and Abraham.
The feud between Nana Patekar and John Abraham is the heart of the film and is portrayed in a far more realistic manner than the Ben Affleck-Samuel Jackson feud in Changing Lanes. You get the feeling that John Abraham and Nana Patekar see in the other a kindred spirit but cannot embrace this reality. They eventually do and that is where the movie scores emotionally. Changing Lanes does not handle this transition very well. Perhaps, another example of Bollywood being better than Hollywood at handling human relationships.
The music adds to the charm of the film. The songs “Ek Nazar meil Bhi” and “Aazma le” blend well with the story. The hit music video “Meter Down” is shown at the end of the film. Watch it on You Tube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D84NA6u1d3o
As rasiks of Mumbai, we loved the song “bambai nagariya” during the opening credits. This is a salute to Amitabh Bachchan’s classic “Ehi hai Bambai Nagariya” song from the iconic movie “Don”. It also reminded us of Johnny Walker’s classic song “Yeh hai Bombay, Meri Jaan” in the 1950s film “CID”. Bollywood always remembers its past and salutes it. Wish Hollywood would try to imitate this practice.
The three “Bombay” songs can be viewed on You Tube at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kiOFYXdku9w – Taxi No. 9211
Do watch Taxi No. 9211 on DVD and give us your feedback at email@example.com