The shortness of the film does mean that it has its shortcomings...
With online platforms giving space for film makers to release more of their content, Akarsh Khurana seems to be making to most of it. With his last stint as a director being a small online series, ‘Rashmi Rocket’ aims to keep his list of projects varied. Roping in Taapsee Pannu to play the lead in a story based on true events looks to be the right way to go. With the trailers being rather promising, there was much anticipation into how this story of women in sports would unfold
From a young age Rashmi (Pannu) was a complete tomboy, whose doting father (Manoj Joshi) always encouraged her to follow her dreams and channeled her dreams of becoming a running athlete after proving her speed as Bhuj’s fastest runner and being nicknamed Rocket by the rest of the villagers. This is until a tragic accident scars her from ever wanting to run again. Though as fate has it, upon meeting Army Captain Gagan Thakur (Priyanshu Painyuli) who persuaded her to enrol in the Indian Athletes Association on Pune, Rashmi proves to be an even bigger record-breaker on a national level. However, after being forced to take a gender test under suspicious circumstances, Rashmi’s dreams begin to fall apart even before it’s even begun. Jealousy, discrimination, lack of human rights and a whole lot to fight for, Rashmi finds herself in the biggest cross-roads of her life.
Khurana has surely made a thought-provoking film here, where it the subject of this being based on true events, make the question of gender testing for women in sport an even bigger focus. With a shorter running time than most films, the story moves rather quickly in order to get to the main plot, and though at times certain components of the film feel a bit rushed, one comes to appreciate it when the plot comes into play. ‘Rashmi Rocket’ is a compelling and heartfelt story, which Khurana evidently feels extremely strongly about. With more issues in the way women and girls are unfairly treated in many industries, here is another that the director has brought brilliantly to light.
Pannu, as the lead, carries the whole film fantastically and effortlessly on her shoulders. Already being a favourite with film buffs, this is one project she does not disappoint in. Getting into the rough and tumble of what makes up her Rashmi, Pannu completely gives into the emotions felt by her character, Working well with the rest of her co-stars, she’s a joy to watch in every frame. Painyuli works very well as Captain Gagan Thakur, with the look of having a good build and stamina for such a part, He has a soft charm and his sense of calmness suppose to be the perfect match for the storm that is Rashmi. But the chemistry between Painyuli and Pannu seems to be lacking. It could be due to the story moving so quickly, but it takes a lot longer for the audience to get used to their pairing. And even though the most part of the film, seeing them on-screen, one can’t help but feel the certain spark is missing. Playing Pannu’s mother is the ever so talented Supriya Pathak. Not new to playing a village mother, she is one actor who viewers can’t take their eyes off. Her role as a strict and loving mother plays out as a wonderful partnership with Pannu. Seeing their relationship develop through the film, is part of what keeps the viewer watching. Though a short role, Joshi playing the doting father everyone dreams of, is also a joy to watch. Having played similar characters before, Joshi plays his role with sheer enjoyment, which only makes the viewer want to see more of him than they do. A special mention has to go out to Abhishek Banerjee, in the role of Eeshit, the lawyer. Coming in halfway through the film, he shows as much passion in his acting as his character does in fighting for justice. Coming in as the knight in shining armour, the way he has his character act in the courtroom keeps viewers on their toes and their wide eyes glued to the screen.
‘Rashmi Rocket’ is a wonderful watch, that gives an eye-opening insight into the way sports associations and the likes of industries that work in particular ways needs to re-evaluate the way they do things in order to make space for equal and fair opportunities. The shortness of the film does mean that it has its shortcomings where, maybe, a little more focus on Rashmi’s relationship with her father and love interest would have made her story gripping. Though the songs in the film are good listens, they add very little to the film, where it could be said that the film would still work without the songs. Despite this, Khurana has done well in portraying a true story on screen and ensuring the main message is focused on. He leaves his audience with a lot to think about.