Netflix’s Skater Girl highlights the social impact of skateboarding on a small town of Rajasthan, where it emerges as a catalyst of change in terms of cast and gender equations. The sports drama underlines how one step, or an opportunity, or a choice can completely change the course of someone’s life.
‘Skater Girl’ calls attention to a confrontation between cultural traditions of a rural society and pursuit of passion for skateboarding with reference to the life of a 15-year old girl, Prerna (Rachel Saanchita Gupta). The young one is torn between her love for the sport and society’s expectations of her.
Residing in a village in Rajasthan, Prerna goes about her day selling peanuts to support her family. She is intensely passionate about skateboarding and her enthusiasm towards it stems from her need to feel free, “without any rules to follow”.
Meanwhile, Jessica (Amy Maghera), a 34-year advertising executive from London, on a two-week trip to India to find her family roots, arrives in the village from where her father was adopted once.
Looking at the enthusiasm of local children for a handmade bearing cart and aversion for studies, she introduces them to skateboarding out of empathy, and also, to bring them back to school.
The amateur kids skate and stumble over clotheslines, cycles, shops, and card games on the village streets, much to the wrath of the elder folk who are convinced that skateboarding is a disruption and should be banished.
From being a mere new sporting adventure for children including Prerna, it turns into a life-changing endeavour as Jessica and her friend (Jonathan Readwin) help them build their own skate park.
Her venture finds support in the benevolent local queen (Waheeda Rehmaan) who donates a piece of her land hoping that the park will give courage to several girls to find and live their dreams.
When local bureaucracy tries to stall these efforts, Jessica calls in coaches from Bangalore who help with bags full of concrete and inspiration to teach. While Prerna’s younger brother Ankush (Shafin Patel) learns how to ollie fast, Prerna is scared and unable to do it.
The park soon becomes a symbol of empowerment for the kids who start dreaming of competing in the National Skateboarding Championship.
One fine day Prerna gets hurt while trying to manoeuvre a drop in, which angers her father who forbids her from skateboarding. He worries about her prospects of marriage if she happens to fall and break her bones due to it.
The divergent perceptions of her parents and her own regarding the sport do not stymie her compelling desire to learn and get better.
A budding romance between her and her brahmin classmate, Subodh, causes havoc which gets worse when her father finds out that she’s been practicing in secret and hiding her skateboard everyday. In a fit of rage he sets it on fire, and even gets rid of their goat who is very dear to Prerna.
Distraught, she runs to the skate park followed by her brother who helps her calm down. Does she submit to her fate conforming to her parents wishes or does she find a voice of her own and dares to fulfil her dream?
Skater Girl ending explained in detail:
When she is betrothed to a boy of her cast and her wedding is fixed on the same day as the skating championship, Prerna bids a tearful goodbye to Jessica as she is set to move to another village after the wedding.
Incidentally, Subodh meets up with her to remind her of her passion for skating and tries to convince her to participate in the championship, but in vain.
The wedding day arrives and festivities are in full swing, but Prerna longs to go back to where she belongs.
Conversation about destiny
On the day of the wedding, Prerna discovers a vice of her future husband and tries to convince her mother against the union. In turn, her mother assures her that she would do just fine as she is a born fighter.
She reveals that Prerna was born premature after much struggle as her mother’s uterus was quite weak due to excessive bleeding. When Prerna accosts why she still got pregnant with her brother despite health issues; she ironically exclaims, nobody asked her opinion.
It is quite unsettling for Prerna as well as the viewers to hear that just because of an orthodox belief, that a family is not complete without a ‘male child’, her mother had to go through the pain of bearing another one.
When her mother tries to convince her that fate is predestined for women, she asks what if skating were her destiny. The silence that follows is answers enough for the budding skateboarder.
The final struggle
On the other side of the village, the championship is in full swing and the kids put up a good show. Ankush receives applause from the crowd for his run on the park.
When he returns home, the wedding procession is on its way. Thereafter, Prerna confides in him that she does not want to be weak and wishes to skate one last time before she bows out.
She somehow manages to escape and is soon on her way to the park. The smile on her face is one of freedom of choice. She will not let her dream go unfulfilled.
She escapes to the the park and lets lose. She rides the wind and finally overcomes her fear, landing an ollie to a cheering and ecstatic crowd.
The sport, thus, puts her on a path of self-discovery and fulfilment, apart from extracting a change of heart from her parents. The queen bestows Prerna with a special award and eulogizes her courage, determination, and dedication in adversity.
The end notes of ‘Skater Girl’ reveal that the Desert Dolphin Skate Park, made in 45 days during its shoot, is now a community park in Rajasthan that encourages girls to dream.