Skater Girl (2021)
Directed by Manjari Makijany
This summer saw the release of Skater Girl, a film directed by Manjari Makijany that follows a young girl in a rural village in India as she discovers the beauty of skateboarding and experiences the difficulties of trying to set off on her own path. Described as a coming of age story by its producers Manjari and Vinati Makijany and Emmanuel Pappas, the narrative weaves together themes of family, confidence, and the importance of stepping into your passions.
Set in a remote town, the movie introduces the audience to Prerna and her younger brother as she pulls him to school on a pull cart she created that bears a striking resemblance to a skateboard. In the following scenes, viewers soon understand the obligations she’s under; she must take care of her family and her home, helping alongside her mother. There’s tension though because she is also required to attend school by the local teachers, despite her father’s disapproval.
While we see Prerna struggle with pleasing her father and fitting in with the other students, viewers meet Jessica. Working in London in marketing, she has taken time off to visit this small village where her late father was born and then adopted as a young boy. Jessica hopes to understand more about her father and heritage.
Prerna and Jessica soon meet, and Prerna is amazed at how free and independent Jessica is. At the same time, Jessica understands the pressure Prerna is under to please her father and his traditional views for his daughter. Jessica is pleasantly surprised to see the pull cart Prerna created and decides to post a video of them playing with it on her social media. Her post draws an old friend Erick to the village who happens to be a skateboarder. Pretty soon, Jessica and him have bought and assembled skateboards for the children in the village.
This act of kindness leads to a bigger one; Jessica organizes the creation and building of a skate park for Prerna and the people in her village. Jessica is moved by the joy that skating brings to the children, and she feels even more connected to this place that was once her father’s home. The movie does an excellent job revealing the tension between the children’s happiness that they feel while skating and the rigidity of the village’s traditions and parents’ uneasiness. There are shots showing children playing and ruining property or household items and students skipping school to skate. The village leaders and Jessica come to an agreement; as long as skating does not interfere with their education or with other people’s property, they will be allowed to skate at the skatepark.
The story’s main focus is on Prerna and her struggle to grow into her own through skateboarding. The sport is an outlet for her, one that allows her to do something she loves and enjoys. It makes her feel free. This is significant because she has lived till now under the weight of her father’s expectations to help at home and to marry the boy he will eventually choose for her. Skating gives her something all her own, something she chooses to do because she loves it, not because of someone else’s expectations of her. By the end of the movie, Prerna has grown in her self-confidence and decides to compete in the skating competition against her father’s wishes. Her parents also realize her passion for the sport and feel proud of who she has become.
A majority of the movie is spoken in Hindi, with a small portion in English. This makes the movie a more honest and authentic representation of Indian culture. The music also includes tracks by partners Salim-Sulaiman, an Indian composing duo. The heartfelt scenes with the children and exhilarating montages of skating are reflected well in the film’s music score. Rachel Sanchita Gupta also does a fantastic job portraying Prerna in her debut film performance. Viewers looking for a heartfelt story about a girl finding her place in her family and her world will enjoy this film immensely. It leaves the viewers with a sense of pride and encouragement seeing Prerna prioritize her own happiness and do what brings her joy despite the expectations of those around her.
- Hannah Neeley
California State University, Stanislaus