|Raindance film review: Driving with Selvi|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Tuesday, 06 October 2015 20:38|
Director: Elisa Paloschi
"250 million women today were married before the age of 15. One third of them are in India."
If that sounds like an unexpected introduction to Driving with Selvi, a documentary about South India's first temple taxi driver, that's because its subject had an equally unexpected start in life. Selvi was paired off when young to a husband who abused her. It's only when she reaches the age of 18 that she runs away to a shelter - something that happened as recently as 2004. There, she meets Canadian director Elisa Paloschi, who is volunteering at the shelter. Over the following decade, Paloschi follows Selvi as she grows up.
"Grow" is the operative word: we see Selvi mature, but also move above her victimised roots. She starts her own company and becomes the country's first female cabbie: from passenger to active driver in her own destiny. The metaphor that's apparent in this choice of career could be laboured or unsubtle in another filmmaker's hands, but Paloschi's approach is admirably low-key; there's a real feeling that the film has evolved as a side effect of friendship as much as a movie-making project. That gentle, unobtrusive style allows Selvi to take centre stage, making for a slight (the runtime is just 70 minutes) yet inspiring piece of cinema: at the end of it all, she remains admirably in forward gear, planning to move from taxis to trucks. After sitting in her back-seat for an hour, you believe she can do it.