A young girl with a wide smile is running past homes and people. Her younger brother is hopped on a makeshift skateboard, which she pulls through a rope as she sprints. This scene in slow motion with an exuberant background score fills the screen with a lively vibe. An ideal start to a kids film — mischievous, playful and spirited. But what is essential in such films is to build up on that feeling as the narrative progresses. Some films manage to do so effortlessly, while others struggle to create that mood. Netflix’s new release, Skater Girl, tiptoes between the two. It somehow sails past the latter but fails to get to the former.
The film is set in a remote village of Rajasthan where the caste system is followed quite religiously. Prerna, a girl in her teens, belonging to a lower caste family, just wants to enjoy her childhood, the way her younger brother, Ankush, does. But their father, who is held by the shackles of patriarchy, has no other option but to impede her. The plot progresses with an NRI from London, Jessica, visiting Prerna’s village. One of Jessica’s friends from London, who is a skater, follows her and lands up in the same village. The story begins to pick up pace from the point when the kids are introduced to skateboarding.
But, the film lumbers in a dull and disengaging way. The subplots too are so basic that even if you skip a scene or two you won’t feel like you have missed something. Another disappointment is the shoddy treatment of the language. Characters at one point find it very hard to enunciate basic English words and at other moments they are just so fluent with it. I wish somebody on the set had suggested the director to hire a good language coach. This 100-minute film starts ascending when skateboarding begins in its full swing, but again it comes too late in the film.
However, the production design team deserves an applaud. From giving the village an alluring look to constructing the skatepark within 45 days, they successfully hammered the right nail. Music, too, is one of the biggest assets of the film. The three songs effectively create the rush and excitement the way it was intended. The performances play a crucial role in pulling the film through — Swati Das, Prerna’s mother, emerges as a favourite. Rachel Saanchita Gupta as Prerna and Amrita Maghera as Jessica put up decent acts, but evidently lacked the director’s push.
Skateboarding as a sport packages the whole piece in a new and a pristine wrap. An overall slow film, Skater Girl, however, is a good watch for kids below 14.
Title: Skater Girl
Cast: Rachel Saanchita Gupta, Amrita Maghera, Swati Das, Waheeda Rehman, Anurag Arora
Director: Manjari Makijany
Rating: 2.5 stars