The 2015 edition of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival kicked off with the opening film Driving with Selvi. There are 750 million women around the world who are married before the age of 18, one third of which are in India. Selvi is one of these women, who was married off age the age of 14 into a very abusive relationship. After running away and finding shelter with the Odanadi organization, Selvi learns how to drive and begins to rebuild her life.
Driving with Selvi is a documentary from Canadian filmmaker Elisa Paloschi, who spent a decade following around Selvi, as she worked to rebuild her life after an abusive forced marriage. Learning to drive gives Selvi the freedom to be her own woman, which includes her becoming Karnataka’s first female taxi driver. She also finds happiness with a man named Viji, who marries Selvi without the requirement of a dowry.
Without a doubt Driving with Selvi is a very inspirational story about this young woman rebuilding her life. Since many women in India are still treated like second-class citizens, it is amazing how Selvi gains the strength to take control of her life and get multiple different driving jobs. In addition, Selvi is a very charming and likable subject, who nearly always sporting a large nervous grin. Driving with Selvi shows that it is possible to pick up the pieces after a terrible life experience.