‘Rickshaw Girl’ Tells an Interesting Coming-of-Age Story of a Bangladeshi Youth

Ulises Duenas


There’s nothing wrong with a simple story, especially if it’s executed well. “Rickshaw Girl” is a film adapted from a popular book of the same name. It follows Naima, a teenage Bangladeshi girl who lives in a crowded village. The movie’s plot, writing, and themes have a universal appeal and the setting helps give this story a unique twist.


Naima’s family struggles to make ends meet and when her father becomes too sick to pull his rickshaw, Naima decides that the only way she can help bring in money is to find work in the big city of Dhaka. One of the film’s most interesting aspects is the authentic portrayal of life in Bangladesh -- from the bustling outdoor markets in the village to the frantic, crowded streets of the city. It makes the setting seem like another character in the story and a vital component to Naima’s story arc.



Throughout the movie, Naima has to fight to keep her passion for painting alive. At first, her mother scolds her and says her art will never bring produce any income,  and when Naima moves to the city, it becomes apparent that an artist seemingly has no place in such a harsh environment. 


Naima eventually starts making money when she disguises herself as a male in order to get a rickshaw-pulling job. It’s a choice she struggled with to make and the movie does a good job of showing her inner turmoil without any dialogue. While she initially set out to make money, her journey becomes one about finding her place in the world. Her art is also a central part of the story, as her paintings and chalk drawings convey the movie’s themes and which is just beautiful to look at.   



One of the minor issues with the film is that the dialogue has a weird sound to it. At first, I thought there was another dub put over the original dialogue, but the film’s original cut uses both English and Bengali dialogue. There’s also a scene at the end of the movie that I wish had more time to breathe due to the nature of what happens. It seems like the plot is a little too slow-paced in the first half before Naima starts to find her footing in Dhaka.


“Rickshaw Girl” tells a coming-of-age story that is easy to get engrossed in and offers a unique perspective given its setting. The writing isn’t amazing, but the directing picks up the slack and makes for a very interesting watch. 


Author Bio:

Ulises Duenas is a senior writer at Highbrow Magazine.


For Highbrow Magazine


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