Rachel Sanchita Gupta, Amrit Maghera, Waheeda Rehman, Amy Maghera
The film follows a teenage tribal girl in Rajasthan, who finds her identity while learning skateboarding, which is foreign to her after a thirty-something British-Indian girl introduces skateboarding in the village.
is the kind of children’s film that is needed for the Indian audience to wash away the effects of the over romanticising Bollywood films released in the 90s. With Manjari Makijany’s directorial, we get to see a real coming of age story about self-identity and passion for growing and learning. The makers did not discard the adolescence and maturity of these characters but gave them a very real direction irrespective of the age of the character.
The film follows Prerna (Rachel Saanchita Gupta), who proudly announces that her name means inspiration but has none in her own life. We soon find out that her brother goes to school but she doesn’t anymore because she does not have any books or uniform. When she does return to school for a day, it was upsetting to watch that teachers who should be asking why she was away or why she doesn’t have books make her clean the school grounds as punishment.
Out of school, Prerna happens to meet a British Indian thirty-four-year-old woman, roaming around in the streets unaware of the village’s social norms. One of the first questions she asks Jessica (Amy Maghera) after finding out her name is if she is married. That is in this moment, Prerna gets to see that there is more to life, that there are girls and women, who can do more than get married and run a household, even after crossing the age of thirty.
The two become close friends as Jessica introduces all the kids in the village to skateboarding. She also helps find ways around the village’s norms so that Prerna can continue to skateboard. Another character who gives wings to Prerna’s dreams is the younger brother Ankush, who feels just as helpless as his sister but at least has the freedom to play around and have a childhood.
is a simple coming of age story with enough complexity of real-life with themes like poverty, castism and patriarchy. Every character has their own motives and preconceived notions that affect each other. But throughout the plot, Jessica and Prerna are two sides of the same coin. Even after being an independent woman, Jessica feels helpless when it comes to Prerna and her own past, which adds dimension to the predictable story.
It seems cringy every time Jessica buys the kids, clothes, skateboards or safety gear, but the makers took efforts so they don’t fall into the Saviour Syndrome trap. Halfway through the film, Jessica says that she is unsure if she is doing the right thing for the kids and often knows when to stay within her limits. But by that time, Prerna has gone beyond the limits she had once known and it is now hard for her to cower down.
Instead of rebelling for the love of another – which Bollywood has done for too well for decades- for once we get to see a girl fight for herself and her passion. Rachel Saanchita Gupta is strong and effortless as the young girl, she gets a few moments to shine on screen but they are not enough to stand out. But she gives enough to do justice to the story which also belongs to others.
Overall with a good script and talented cast
is a smooth ride. The film is a much watch for teenagers and hopefully will inspire better children’s films in coming years.