Skater Girl is a new movie released on Netflix. It is the story of a girl called Prerna, who lives with her family in a village called Khempur in Rajasthan. Like countless other girls in our villages, she does household chores and helps in the fields. Lack of finances means her education is the one to be sacrificed, rather than her brother’s. Prerna’s life is bound by the narrow confines of societal norms. A chance encounter with Jess, a tourist from London, leads to an unlikely friendship. Jess, who is visiting the village on a quest of her own, introduces Prerna to skateboarding. Prerna takes to skateboarding, like a duck to water. Prerna feels unfettered and free when she is skateboarding, a marked departure from the rules that govern her life. But will Prerna be allowed to do a sport that is almost unknown in India, especially for girls?
Skater girl is a heartwarming movie. It shows how despite lack of resources, children are innovative and creative. Children need a place where they can be free to express themselves and to achieve their potential. A helping hand might make all the difference in someone’s life. Skateboarding becomes a metaphor for disruption, of desiring something which most people do not understand.
There is a dialogue that gets repeated in the movie. It says, “no one says anything, but unspoken rules and regulations are there”. This movie is about exposing these unspoken rules and regulations which are holding our society back. Prerna’s story is inspiring as it doesn’t shy away from tackling social ills that still flourish in our rural hinterlands. The movie depicts misogyny and the patriarchy entrenched in our society. It shows the evil of child marriage and the dowry system that still flourishes under the garb of societal norms. Ostracism during menstruation, the inherent caste system that divides the hand-pumps according to caste lines, education of the girls sacrificed due to lack of interest by parents and finances, the desire for a boy child, are all touched upon.
The movie never takes on the moral, preachy crusading tone, but instead, very matter-of-factly touches upon the issues. Prerna does not oppose the fate she had has been handed, accepting it as her destiny. Prerna doesn’t question or demand anything from her parents, nor does she outrightly rebel against their decisions. Until Prerna realises she is going to be caged forever. The stoicism of Prerna’s mother, who knows that her daughter is being wronged, has been depicted beautifully. Even the patriarchy and the misogyny of the father is shown without resorting to violence.
For a critic, there might be issues in the movie that haven’t been resolved or might have been treated too simplistically. However, when seen through the lens of feminism, Skater Girl makes an impact. I saw the movie with my children, and I hope it made them aware of the life of privilege they have. The movie makes one think of the unspoken patriarchy in our country. It makes one think of the ills which still beset our country.
The movie also makes one think of hope. Of how a helping hand can make a difference.
The movie now out on Netflix, do check it out!