Director Manjari Makijany infuses grit and passion in a tale of dreams that seems far fetched in the practical world, but then that’s the beauty of hopes and aspirations
Village and dreams. On top of that, village and skateboarding. They don’t seem to fit. At all. That’s where Makijany has to be commended for firstly thinking of such a novel idea and then finally making it into a reality. Skater Girl is a lesson at two levels. One, it tells you about the sport. And ofcourse, it tells you that no subject for a film is bland.
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When a teen in rural India discovers a life-changing passion for skateboarding, she faces a rough road as she follows her dream to compete.
Written by Manjari and Vinati Makijany, the film is beautiful in its basic concept. Skateboarding for a film in India. That too, in the backdrop of a rustic village. Seems a far fetched approach both in practical terms and cinematically. But this slippery road has been turned into a smooth lane by the excellent execution. It’s a film that touches you like cool fresh breeze. The first sequence itself brings forth the harsh raw setting of the village but the innocence that prevails absorbs you right in.
The film talks of hopes and ambitions- ofcourse nothing that you haven’t seen before. What makes this film endearing is the setting and the sport in consideration. A notion presented in the film says that skateboarding is hated by everyone alike across the world, the counter of which comes that those who hate it don’t actually hate the board, but the spirit associated. That’s what makes this film a worth watching experience. The spirit of the film is just right sans any preaching or life changing moral lessons. The liberation that skating brings with it or the feeling of being independent is being highlighted majorly.
The gap between a village and a city is shown at various levels. In terms of opportunities, educational systems, class divide, patriarchal mindsets, and the power to accept change- has all been served to you just how it is. You may here feel that- ahh, I know this and there is nothing new. The story at that very point asks you to delve a little deeper into the context and understand how it is all coming to life.
No character is out of place (which you do feel initially). Thankfully, the sensibility of the film is in proportion with the realism of the society. The plot always remains and stays and breathes around you and never in some another world of fantasy, which is why you like what you see. You may question the intellectual and contextual plausibility of the climax- thinking if things could be shown a little differently, but probably you will let it go for cinematic intentions.
Rachel Saanchita Gupta acts well. She has an exuberance to her all throughout and you want to see more of her. She also has shades to her role, which she justifies well.
Amy Maghera has a very strong role, like a parallel lead in the film. You can’t imagine the film without the character or even without her on board. She is just perfect for the role. She brings in believability and the perspective of an outsider to the village.
Shafin Patel lends some able support in the role of Ankush. He has also been given some humour to play around with. Amrbish Saxena and Swati Das are also good in the role of parents of the lead. They give the film depth and meaning. Had they not been there with powerful performance, the film would have fallen apart.
Jonathan Readwin should also be appreciated for offering charm to the drama. He has a pleasing personality, and it must be said that it’s a case of perfect casting. Waheeda Rehman in a special role is good.
Music and background score by Salim-Sulaiman lift the film manifolds. While watching the film, it is the score and the songs played frequently that give you ample chances to soak in the film. It is very intelligent how music contributes to the overall understanding of the film.
Cinematography by Alan Poon and Monic Kumar G is simple but effective. They have managed to capture the essence of the village while also giving you symbolic points to think about dreams and hope through accentuated lighting. Production design by Priya Ahluwalia also works well for how the village has been showcased. It is not only a dry barren space. You do see roads, houses, buildings giving you a real connect.
Editing by Deepa Bhatia is also very good, for you never feel a dull moment in the film. The graph is balanced with high and low points thrown in satisfactorily. The conflict points within the drama are rightly placed.
It is a film that must have required immense dedication and passion. It is a rare film that talks so much about a country, a society, a sporting scenario, and still be relevant and cinematic at the same time. Must be watched.