Skater Girl is a movie on Netflix about Prerna (by Rachel Sanchita Gupta), a young girl from a poor family in rural India. She can’t attend school because her family doesn’t have the funds to buy her a new uniform, and she has outgrown her old one. She is a good kid, a protective sister to her little brother, and she tries to be a responsible daughter. One day, a young British woman named Jessica (by Amy Maghera) enters her town and changes her life forever. By a series of circumstances and chance, Jessica introduces skateboarding to Prerna’s life, as well as all the lives of the otherh village kids.
This movie is interesting in that there are actually two equal protagonists in the movie. The movie shifts from focusing on Prerna to Jessica, then back to Prerna towards the end. Both characters were fantastic.
Prerna is a shy girl. When Jessica’s friend Erick brings a skateboard, Prerna tries skateboarding for the first time in front of all the kids in town. Jessica and Prerna’s little brother Ankush encourage her to just try. She falls a couple of times, but goes smoothly on the third. She begins to fall in love with skateboarding as it feels like freedom and lightness when she’s on the board.
Everyone in the small town is confused why this posh British lady has entered their town. We as the audience learn that Jessica is half Indian, and her father came from that town before moving to London and meeting her mother. Her father had recently passed away, and Jessica wanted to explore her roots, get in touch with her heritage, and feel closer to her father.
A very natural sister bond develops between Jessica and Prerna. Prerna really looks up to Jessica as a role model, and becomes inspired by how independent and confident Jessica is. Jessica really comes to love Prerna as a little sister and really goes to bat for her, several times.
The different castes in India are subtly referenced throughout the movie. Although the social caste system is more relaxed today than previous centuries, it still exists to some extent and is widely criticized. Prerna mentions to Jessica not to drink from a certain fountain because it’s meant for the upper caste. This seemed strange to me because although Jessica was a foreigner, she was also a well-educated creative director of a marketing firm in London. Another example of the Indian social caste is Prerna and her classmate from an upper caste having a crush on each other in school. The boy is the son of the school’s principal. Prerna’s mother chastises her for being interested, not wanting her to get in trouble.
Prerna’s father especially does not approve of Prerna’s skateboarding. The sport takes away from her family chores and schooling, but more notably, skateboarding is not something that women should do, in his eyes. She disobeys him a few times with skateboarding, and he feels it’s time to marry her off. Of course, he schedules the wedding right on the day and time of the skateboarding championship that she had been anticipating. I don’t want to say Prerna trained so hard for it, since to be honest, it seemed that Prerna was not very good at skateboarding for most of the movie. In any case, Prerna has a fanstastic act of rebellion, escaping through the roof of the bridal room, borrowing her brother’s pants and skateboard, and rushing to the competition.
This little Netflix film was very inspirational. It passes the Bechdel test, and features a different worldview with rural Indian representation.