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‘Rickshaw Girl’: A celebration of the spirit of the Bengali people brings Bangladesh to an international audience

Young audiences love a film about a girl struggling to provide for her family and survive. Rickshaw Girl does not hide the hardships of life, but it also highlights the talent and determination of its central character, Nick Powell.

Rickshaw Girlis an inspiring film for all ages, but it has been a popular selection at youth film festivals. The film tells the story Naima, a young village girl who is a skilled painter. The brave and determined teenager travels to Dhaka to work as a rickshaft rider after her father becomes ill.

Novera Orishi, the film’s star, was able to see the film via video link following the screening in Brussels. It was “hard work, but fun,” she said. To be able to pedal a rickshaw in Dhaka, she first had to train for three months.

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Novera Orishi

She felt that her role showed how “Bengali girls can be strong, headstrong, sweet, and determined”. She said that the harsh world of the rickshaw garage was a place of opportunity for her character.


Amitabh Reza, the director, was present in Brussels to screen the film. After the screening, he told me that he didn’t want to celebrate rickshaws themselves. He described them as “not a humane transport at all”. He wanted to express the lives of people who depend on muscle power to transport passengers twice as heavy than they are.

He wanted to celebrate rickshaw art. These are paintings on vehicles’ bodies that are beautiful and imaginative products of the imagination. Rickshaw Girl Naima is a skilled practitioner of this dying art. This film is truly and literally vibrant.


Nick Powell speaks to director Amitabh Reza Chowdhury

Amitabh RezaChowdhury’s message was “Never stop painting, and never stop doing what you love to do.” That is how I live my life. It’s the same way that I want to be a filmmaker. Nothing stopped me. It was easy to stay focused on the things you love if it’s something you are passionate about.


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“If you asked me, should I leave Bangladesh to make films? No. I am not interested. I want to make films with people. This is my passion. He spoke passionately about the riverside area in Dhaka, where he shot Rickshaw Girl and where he had filmed before.

People come from every small and large town to this spot. They arrive in the morning when there’s a vibrance that I always enjoy. It is a place where people come together to dream and work – that is my story.

This is not to suggest that Bangladesh’s most prolific director lacks variety. His next film will be about a 1969 conspiracy trial, which was an important event in Bangladesh’s liberation struggle.

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