Skater Girl, Manjari Makijani’s feature debut, has run into trouble just days after its release on Netflix India. Skater Girl is a film set in rural Rajasthan that depicts the lives of 16-year-old Prena (Rachel Saanchita Gupta), who discovers freedom via skateboarding.
Jessica (Amy Maghera), a British-Indian who is in the village on a personal journey, is the catalyst. Jessica and her friend Erick (Jonathan Readwin), inspired by the village children’s eagerness to learn about skateboarding and their desire to change their lives, decide to establish a skate park and support the kids in pursuing their new interest.
According to Gaon Connection, Skater Girl is based on the life of Asha Gond, a tribal girl from Janwaar in Panna, Madhya Pradesh, and Ulrike Reinhard, a German national who set up the Janwaar Castle skatepark there in March 2015, which changed lives.
While the producers claim it is a dramatised portrayal of Indian skateboarding girls’ stories, Gond believes it is her narrative and that the filmmakers never obtained her permission despite meeting her.
According to Mid-Day, Reinhard said she met with filmmakers via Skype chats and also met with the producer and director in person in Janwaar and Jaipur. She also had a contract with them to participate as a research consultant on Skater Girl, but she backed out since, although promising to work as co-creators, they were not interested in publicising her and Gond’s process.
This claim is false, according to Manjari, who co-wrote and produced the film with her sister Vinati, because it is not a biopic. “The film is about the impact of skateboarding as a whole, rather than focusing on a single person. It was inspired by the stories of hundreds of girls and skaters she met while conducting research across India,” she told Gaon Connection.
The film’s final credits include a ‘thank you’ to Reinhard and Janwar’s skatepark. Reinhard, on the other hand, thinks the filmmakers should have signed a contract with Gond and the other kids.