Remember nine-year-old Kamali Moorthy, a child prodigy, who got fame last year as the only girl skateboarder and surfer in her hamlet in Tamil Nadu? Based on her remarkable journey, a short film Kamali, which is shot in the historic coastal town of Mahabalipuram outside Chennai, has now won top honours at the Atlanta Film Festival, NDTV reported. This film has garnered accolades since it chronicles the life of a single mother in India who sells fish and raises her 9-year-old daughter who is a skateboarder.

Kamali depicts the story of Suganthi’s (Kamali’s mother, a daily wage earner) struggle to defy all odds to raise her daughter. Kamali aspired to become a skateboarder and her mother is her biggest support. The film also focuses on little Kamali’s transformation from a girl in the neighbourhood to a skateboarding champion and her quirky skating ramp set up in the street.

Suganthi is the epitome of women power, especially as to how she is raising her kid away from societal restrains. After her marriage broke, 34-year-old Suganthi did not fail to educate and empower her daughter and even encouraged her to take skateboarding. It was her surfer brother’s friend, a skateboarder himself, who gifted Kamali a skateboard. And, since then, the board became her only weapon, having found herself in a position to change gender-based stereotypes in the society.

Kamali, who’s gearing up for class fifth now, said, “I am happy. I want to achieve something big in skateboarding”.

One of the most heart-warming stories from the regional India, Kamali’s story was filmed by Sasha Rainbow, a New Zealand-born filmmaker now settled in London. Sasha had first travelled to India to feature Kamali and other skateboarding girls for the video of a song “Alpha Female” by a UK-based band Wild Beasts.

But the vision changed after witnessing Suganthi’s diligence and confidence to keep her daughter’s dreams alive. The filmmaker was fascinated and returned to make this documentary and tell her story to the world.

“Kamali’s story represents an incredible moment in India and shows how massive change can start with just one person. I believe Kamali’s mother Suganthi and others like her are heroes who should be celebrated for their bravery. I believe skateboarding is a symbol of going against the grain, standing boldly in front of society and taking ownership of one’s life,” Rainbow, the director of Kamali, said to NDTV.

Kamali’s story represents an incredible moment in India and shows how massive change can start with just one person. I believe Kamali’s mother Suganthi and others like her are heroes who should be celebrated for their bravery. – director Sasha Rainbow

Skateboarder Kamali was born in a fisherman colony, of a seaside village near Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu. Excited about the critical acclaim the film has received, Suganthi told NDTV, “My parents and the local community did not approve. They used to ask her life would be spoiled if she breaks her limbs. I want her to reach greater heights. She should not be like me with limited exposure.”

Kamali with the support of Aine Edwards, a Chennai-based Irish entrepreneur, was connected to Jamie Thomas, a celebrated international skateboarder. Last year, Jamie had posted a picture of the that training went viral on social media.

Aine Edwards said, “Sasha wants to build a larger skateboarding park in Mahabalipuram. If built, this would be a community place for all children and Kamali sure will inspire more girls to take up the sport”.

The film has been making buzz worldwide, having won the ‘Best Director Award’ at the Mumbai Shorts International Film Festival last year. It also qualifies for the 2020 Oscar shortlist.

Feature Image Credit: The Dots

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