Netflix 'Skater Girl' Review: A tale of rare confidence riding on a skateboard
"I'm Prerna, it means inspiration." It took 30 minutes for the skater girl to show some spirit. Rachel Saanchita Gupta's Prerna is burdened and one cannot blame her for being meek and mild. She wishes she could go to school, work extra time to help her father with household expenses, play like most kids her age do, but she can't because fieldwork awaits.
Manjari Makijany's 'Skater Girl' never pretends to be an over-the-top Bollywood fare. Ambitious? Yes. It follows a village girl who aspires to become a skateboarding champion. On the surface, it doesn't seem doable but then again it's a film that aspires to be the voice of change. It blends sports, a shero story, and a takedown of patriarchy seamlessly. But trust us when we say it's nothing like 'Basketball County: In The Water', 'Athlete A' or even 'The Infinite Race'. 'Skater Girl' is a complete drama that focuses on Prerna's journey to the top.
Prerna, who is otherwise selling peanuts at the market, secretly hopes she can resume school someday but that starts to seem like a stretch when the family runs out of money and she has to do what she can to shoulder the responsibilities. The efforts are, however, thwarted when her father pulls a grossly patriarchal move, in which he refuses to let the women work.
By this time, Makijany makes her intentions clear. It was going to be a movie about a girl who breaks shackles that have trapped her, forced her to bury her dreams and live a life that is ruled by others. The director, who has had an impressive background in filmmaking, introduces Jessica (Amy Maghera) as someone with superheroic qualities, someone who would save the day for Prerna without breaking into a sweat. And she does.
'Skater Girl' may run the risk of being labeled 'old wine in a new bottle' but manages to rise above most sports films. It is no longer about winning, it's the journey that matters, which is what makes the film that much more special. But before they can reach the end, they must endure hardships, and while at it, Prerna and Jessica develop a friendship that seemed a distant dream when they first met. Their worlds may collide but their ambitions don't, which is what makes their bond rare.
Gupta, who is making her debut with 'Skater Girl', delivers a performance that is ahead of her years. She is somber when she wants to, confident when the occasion calls for it, and beaming with joy upon seeing that skateboard. That she can express a rich range of emotions in her first years of acting is remarkable. Of course, helping her case is Maghera's earnest portrayal of Jessica. She is fierce and determined but also deeply emotional when she realizes that someday her 'two-weeks' will be over and she'll wake up in a different country.
In a nutshell, 'Skater Girl' is a sports film with rare confidence that documents the inspirational journey of a village girl who goes from feeble to fierce as she breaks barriers one skateboard ride at a time.
'Skater Girl' is now streaming on Netflix.