Driving with Selvi

Selvi, a former child bride, escapes her violent marriage and goes on to become South India’s first female taxi driver. This is the ten-year journey of a charming, strong, and courageous young woman who defies patriarchal expectations and creates a new life.

Indian woman taxi driver
Women of the World
Premiere Date
March 1, 2015
60 minutes

Elisa Paloschi

Elisa Paloschi is a documentary filmmaker/producer and cinematographer. She is the President of Eyesfull, a Toronto-based, independent production company, dedicated to making non-fiction films with social relevance that reflect the diversity of the human voice. With more than 25 years experience working in virtually every aspect of documentary Show more film production, Elisa’s work has taken her around the globe, from Palermo Roma camps to deep under the Coral Sea of Australia. Her first feature documentary Embracing Voices (2012) explores depression and the creative process as seen through the eyes of Canadian Jazz luminary Jane Bunnett. Her latest feature documentary Driving with Selvi will have its world premiere at Raindance in Sept. 2015. Show less

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The Film

Selvi, like so many girls living within India’s patriarchal culture, is forced to marry at a young age, only to find herself in a violent and abusive marriage. One day in deep despair, she chooses to escape, going to a highway with the intention of throwing herself under the wheels of a bus. Instead she gets on the bus, choosing to live…and goes on to become South India’s first female taxi driver.

We first meet 18-year-old Selvi at a girls’ shelter in 2004 – timid, soft-spoken, a fresh runaway from a difficult life. Over a ten-year journey, we see a remarkable transformation as Selvi finds her voice and defies all expectations – learning to drive, starting her own taxi company, leading seminars to educate other women, and much more.

This character-driven story highlights the challenges that millions of devalued women and girls in India face. In a society where women are often considered expendable or worthless, Selvi refuses to accept this estimation for herself, moving beyond the pain she’s experienced to create an entirely new life.

Through Selvi’s eyes, the audience is taken on an intimate journey of healing, overcoming obstacles, and fulfilling dreams. And throughout this journey, Selvi’s unwavering spirit shines through. Wildly charming (without even realizing it), remarkably strong, and utterly courageous, by the end of the film Selvi speaks almost as a sage or our wisest teacher, sharing important, hard-won secrets about happiness and life.