Rickshaw Girl echoes Mulan as the story of a young girl who, because of her patriarchal culture’s traditions, must disguise herself as a boy to support her family after her father falls ill. Naima becomes a rickshaw driver in the chaotic city of Dhaka. Director Amitabh Reza Chowdhury frames the city with an exciting, pulsating energy pace, making the environment an important part of the film. The rickshaw environment is dangerous and aggressive, and the challenges she faces there force Naima to question her role in her family and as a young woman.
Naima transforms her bland Bangladesh surroundings with vibrant paintings on walls, her rickshaw, and other surfaces. Her sari costumes are just as bright as the pictures she makes. Chowdhury manifests Naima’s artistic dreams in fantastical animated sequences with eye-popping colors. These creative montages where Naima’s imagination bleeds into the real world are the highlights of the film.
Novera Rahman’s spirited performance as Naima carries the film; she crafts a well-rounded young girl with determination, artistic passion, and childlike vulnerability. Rickshaw Girl is an empowering narrative for young girls. Naima’s strength and resourcefulness are inspiring to watch, as well as her journey to understanding the world around her. Rickshaw Girl follows familiar coming-of-age beats, but its vibrant atmosphere, uplifting narrative, and strong lead performance make the film soar.