Bollywood superstar Salman Khan turns producer for the Canadian film Dr. Cabbie, a comedy that takes a critical look at Canada’s medical infrastructure and immigrants’ ability to assimilate into the culture.
Vinay Virmani — the film’s co-writer — plays Dr. Deepak Veer Chopra, a recent Indian med school grad eager to start his career in Canada. He drags his mother, Nellie (Lillete Dubey), to Toronto, where they move in with her brother, Vijay (Rizwan Manji), and his blonde hippie wife, Rani (Mircea Monroe).
Despite a nationwide shortage of doctors, none of Toronto’s hospitals will accept Deepak’s Indian degree. His new pal, Tony (Kunal Nayyar), convinces the doctor to join him as a cab driver, the city’s go-to job for the over-educated and underemployed.
When Tony uploads a video of Deepak delivering a woman’s baby in the back of his cab, it launches Deepak’s career as a mobile freelance doctor, even if means he has to practice without at license. It also jump-starts Deepak’s romance with the new mom, Natalie (Adrianne Palicki).
There are some especially charming equations in Dr. Cabbie. Virmani and Palicki share a comfortable chemistry, Deepak’s earnestness pairing well with Natalie’s savvy.
Best of all is the friendship between Nellie and Rani. After initially resisting the move to Canada, Nellie is quickly won over, taking to Rani’s life of massages and facials like a fish to water. Impressed with her sister-in-law’s golden tresses and generous bosom, Nellie dons her own blonde wig and pads her bra with socks.
The funniest part of the film is Vijay’s recounting of his proposal to Rani. A flashback shows the audience the truth of what happened in a way that is far less rosy than the story he tells his sister and nephew.
The tone of the film is generally light, and so is the criticism of the Canadian medical system’s inefficiencies. Most of the racially tinged humor is benign, although a few instances are cringe-worthy.
Tony’s character exists for the purpose of inserting as many sex jokes into the script as possible, and the vast majority of the jokes just aren’t funny. It’s hard to imagine a woman being charmed by Tony’s catcalling and the set of blue plastic testicles hanging from his cab’s bumper. A subplot involving Tony’s Italian landlord and the landlord’s daughter should have been ditched entirely.
Though not perfect, Dr. Cabbie has enough cute moments and winsome performances to make it worth a glance.