(Dir: Milan Luthra, starring Nana Patekar, John Abraham, Sameera Reddy, Sonali Kulkarni and a very battered Fiat)
Halfway through, Taxi no 9211, stranded on the rail tracks, meets its end in a brutal collision with a Mumbai train. Perfect metaphor for what the director did with this film.
Milan Luthra has great casting: John Abraham versus Nana Patekar is like pitting Yana Gupta against Judi Dench. He has the perfect anti-hero in Bombay’s traffic. He even—and he should, since he borrowed it from Changing Lanes and the original Nau Do Gyara–has a potentially great plot. Raghav Shashtri (Patekar) doesn’t want his wife (Sonali Kulkarni) to know he’s not a LIC agent but a taxi driver in financial trouble; spoilt playboy (Abraham) needs to reach court in time or risk losing a fortune, and they both desperately need anger management classes. With Abraham in Patekar’s cab, they might drive each other over the edge.
But Taxi No 9211 has serious steering wobble, bypassing noir and comedy in favour of sentimental slop. Patekar rises brilliantly above a schizophrenic script, half of it written by a genius, the other by a touchy-feely New Age therapist; Abraham, unfortunately, displays all the burning emotion of a model who’s discovered that the last three feet of the catwalk just went missing. The song ‘Meter Down’ is a blast, but the rest—well, as the guy behind us said when his girlfriend griped about gaping plot holes, “What do you want, film Fiat hai, Pajero nahi”.