Rahul also tells TNM that the team was initially worried when Nayanthara's 'Dora' bore resemblance to the film.

I was depressed when Taxiwaala leaked online Director Rahul to TNMFacebook/Rahul Sankritya
Flix Interview Wednesday, November 21, 2018 - 12:19

Vijay Deverakonda’s Taxiwaala, a supernatural comedy that’s powered by an intelligent science-fiction core, has struck gold at the box-office. In just four days since its release, the film has grossed around Rs. 25 crore worldwide, and has already earned profits for its makers and distributors.

What really doesn’t make the film a run-of-the-mill horror-comedy is its writing, and credit for that should go to its director Rahul Sankrityan.

In this chat with TNM, Rahul opens up on the inspiration behind writing Taxiwaala, the lessons he has learnt from its success and how he dealt with the phase when the film got leaked online before its release.

The journey of Taxiwaala

For starters, Vijay Deverakonda had signed Taxiwaala even before the release of Arjun Reddy. It’s been a long wait for the film to hit the screens.

“After the release of my first film The End, I was struggling financially as I had exhausted all my savings. This is when my friend and I decided to buy a second-hand car, hire a driver and start a car rental service. Back then, it was a booming business idea and we were all set to take the plunge. As I started checking out second-hand cars online, the idea for the first half of Taxiwaala was born. The film explores the relationship between a man and his car, and I added the supernatural angle to make things exciting," he says.

Everybody who heard the first half of Taxiwaala really liked it. But writing the second half was more challenging, admits Rahul.

“Writing the second half was very complicated. We wanted the horror angle to have a very different level of closure, and didn’t want it to tread the regular revenge route. It took us six months to write the second half because we had to connect all the threads and the story needed a logical explanation for everything that happens in the first half.”

The science-fiction sub-plot and the research behind it

The film has garnered a lot of praise for its science-fiction core, and talking about the research that has gone behind writing it, Rahul says, “I’m a huge fan of Steven Spielberg’s cinema, particularly his style of narration. I love dealing with mind-bending concepts and Taxiwaala is an attempt in that space. Also, I believe in narrating fun stories and don’t believe in making audiences cry with heavy content unless it’s really needed. The characters in all my stories will be normal people with good sense of humour. That’s why in the film you find low comedy even while the core deals with high-concept horror and science-fiction," he notes.

“The research was quite intense as we had no reference material. I read about an incident in Kerala involving a man and Astral Projection which we decided to include in the film. I studied a lot of web articles and books on out-of-body experience that separates a physical body from its soul. All of this helped in writing the second half.”

Sometime last year, the makers of Taxiwaala were in shock when the trailer of Nayanthara’s Dora released. In both the films, the pivot of the story revolves around a car that’s possessed by a spirit.

“We were quite shocked when we saw the trailer. Given that it was a Nayanthara film, we feared our project might be dropped if the plot was very similar. When Dora released, we caught the first day, first show and to our relief, the similarity ended at the possessed car. We realised the second half of our film was quite different and we had nothing to worry.

Piracy woes

Days before its scheduled release, the entire film Taxiwaala was leaked online. Rahul, without divulging the exact details behind the leak, described it as the most depressing phase of his career.

“There was nothing that we could do to overcome this phase, which was really depressing. We worked towards the release and hoped that audiences will like the film.”

Audiences have lapped up Taxiwaala, and its success has taught Rahul two things.

“If you’ve genuinely made a good film, even piracy won’t affect its prospect at the box-office. Even though our film was available online, the numbers prove that people came to the theatres to watch it. If people like a film, they’ll come to the theatres and watch it. Also, when I was pitching the story of Taxiwaala, most people wanted certain things to be changed but I was convinced the film will work. The film’s success has given me the confidence to tell stories I believe in and from the heart.”

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