Today, I watched an amazing movie – ‘Skater Girl’ on Netflix.
The movie is about a girl (Prerna) and her friends in a village in India who are introduced to skating or skateboarding by a British Indian woman (Jessica) and her friend, who just happened to visit this village. Jessica gifts skateboards to these poor kids, and soon she finds a whole new world has been opened for them.
The movie revolves around Prerna and her life in that village. Coming from a poor, lower caste family in a remote village in Rajasthan, India, she experiences injustice and inequality everywhere while growing up. She sees her brother going to school, but she couldn’t go because she doesn’t have a neat school uniform. She is being told to do all the chores at house. She is even told to behave like a girl and not spend time on sports or any such activity which involves going outside the house. While watching this, it seems that there are many villages in India and also in other parts of the world, where young girls and women have to undergo such inequality everyday in their life.
Then suddenly one day, like a ray of hope, Jessica happens to visit the village and she meets Prerna, and soon finds her to be a very nice girl, but with low confidence. Jessica’s friend comes to visit her in the village, and brings his skateboard. Soon, Prerna is curious to learn about skating. She starts practising the skateboard gifted to her by Jessica. She watches YouTube videos on how to skate. She feels like a free bird, with her wings wide open whenever she is skating.
But unfortunately, the villagers didnt like the scene of poor kids skating in the village. Hence, they ban skating, and even her father doesn’t allow her to skate, just because this sport is meant for guys! After seeing all this, Jessica decides to build a skate park in the village, and soon, with the help of her team, she builds a beautiful skate park.
This is a true story that during filming of this movie, they did built Rajasthan’s first and one of the India’s largest skate park, known as Desert Dolphin, in Khempur, Rajasthan, India as shown below.
The kids start practising in this newly built skateboard. But being a girl, Prerna suffers from lack of support from her family as well unable to overcome her fear. During one of her practice sessions, she falls and her legs get hurt. Her mother sees her crippled walk, and soon her family bans her skating. Her father even burns down the skateboard. Prerna watches helplessly her dreams and freedom being burnt along with the skateboard.
Then, her father decides to get her married. This is shocking because she hasn’t even reached 18 yet. This is one of the sad reality in remote villages in India, even 21 years after entering the 21st century. Especially, states like Rajasthan have a high rate of child or teen marriages.
Being from a lower caste family, Prerna is being told that she will have to marry a guy from similar background, even though he had some bad habits like chewing tobacco. But Prerna knew a boy called Subodh in her school, who liked her, and she did like him as well. But he being a upper caste Brahmin, both the families won’t approve of this. This is another societal problem fearlessly shown in the movie. Even today, Indian society is plagued with caste differences, and bias against each other. Its indeed sad to see, that family often doesn’t take into consideration whom does their son or daughter really like. Only caste and family status are considered enough to decide the fate of a girl or guy.
Then, on the day of her marriage, an All India Skating Competition is being held in the village. Prerna bravely decides to run away from her marriage to participate in the competition. Her escape from her own marriage venue is heroic. She then participates in the competition and wins the first prize. Her parents arrive at the skate park. Her father finally becomes ashamed for not allowing Prerna to skate, but then he also becomes proud of her achievements.
The movie is indeed very touching and inspirational. I had seen a similar movie called ‘Yeh Ballet’- https://abhiknotes.com/2021/04/05/movie-review-yeh-ballet/ . I had written a review for it as well. This movie ‘Skater Girl’ is also based on a similar theme and gives the same message. In India, there are countless stories of poor and talented kids, who are deprived of the opportunities to excel in their life. But when given the right opportunity, and a bit of motivation and support, then they come out as winners! Yeh Ballet also showed the similar story of two ballet dancers from slums of Mumbai. Both the movies are equally motivating! Prerna and Jessica have given a stellar acting performance, and so did others as well in the movie.
Some more comments on the movie: One of the scenes in the movie is when Prerna is not going inside the temple, and her brother asks her about it. She tells her little brother that she is having stomach cramps. This is one of the medieval practice still blindly followed in India. Even after women activists having fought for so many years, for allowing women to enter the temple even during their periods. But unfortunately, the patriarchial society seems to stick to their age old false belief of impurity during menstruation .
Also, when Jessica decides to build a skate park in the village for the kids, and she had to meet government officials, politicians etc to sanction her plan and get the required funding, she had to struggle to get her dream come true. No politician or bureaucracy ( as we Indians call them ‘Babus’) supported or funded her project. Only the ‘Maharani’ (Rajasthan has a rich history of royal families) supported and gave her all the funding to build the skate park. This shows why India is still under-developed. Because very often, the politicians and govt officials are the real hindrances in any good project.
Also, this shows why sports as a career in India has not been established yet. Because no one even thinks that playing sports can be a successful career ( with the kind exception of Cricket, sorry Men’s Cricket). And interestingly, after the skate park is built, the same politician who opposed earlier, called Jessica, six months before the elections were due, and told her that he is interested to support the All India Skating Competition. This is indeed true that in India, we often see miracles from politicians happening only before elections are due!
Thus, I end my review here. I enjoyed this movie a lot today. And I recommend all to watch this inspirational movie. But at the same time, this movie is an eye opener and mirrors the harsh reality in rural villages in India such as child/teen marriage, caste discrimination, menstruation taboo, high school dropouts amongst young girls, corrupt politicians and redtapism, patriarchial society, lack of women empowerment, and ofcourse the complete lack of sports culture, facilities, equipments and even motivation to persue a career in sports! India has a long way to go still………………
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