Our Lives Inspired 'Skater Girl', But We Didn't Get Any Credit: Asha Gond
Netflix's Skater Girl has been accused of capitalising on a tribal girl's story.
Netflix's Skater Girl, directed by Manjari Makijany and co-written by sister Vinati Makijany, has been receiving a lot of appreciation ever since it premiered on the streaming platform. However, the film has also been embroiled in controversy after being accused of capitalising on a tribal girl's story.
Speaking to Vice International, Asha Gond said that she was surprised after seeing the trailer. "I was surprised that the trailer had a story very similar to mine".
Was Angry & Upset After Watching Skater Girl: Asha Gond
The 21-year-old Indian skateboarding champion claimed that Skater Girl has drawn heavily from her life and her tribal village in Madhya Pradesh.
"After watching Skater Girl I wrote to the filmmakers asking them as to why they didn't credit us. We have worked so hard to bring about societal change. They never got back and now nothing can be done".Asha Gond to Vice International
Asha added that the film falls short of capturing their experiences with caste and gender bias. "The film made me so angry and upset. So much of our lives has inspired it but we did not get any credit. We don't need money. It would have really helped if people knew on whom the story is based".
Asha Gond's village Janwaar grabbed headlines in 2016 after German activist Ulrike Reinhard introduced a skating rink, turning almost all the kids there into skateboarders. The rink helped girls like Asha break age-old practices and become financially independent. Janwaar’s popularity also grew with Asha's fame. She took part in several national and international championships, and was the first in her village to travel outside India.
Asha also told the publication that the filmmakers contacted her some years back. "The film's director, Manjari Makijany, came to Janwaar and spent some time but we didn't know she was shooting a film. We took part in an acting workshop. I was asked what I do when I feel low. I told them I sit by the lake. That's there in the film".
Asha continued that the film's crew contacted her in 2019 and said the film will be based on them. "The crew said we will be in the film but in the background. We refused. If it's our story, why should we be in the background?".
Statement From Makijany's Production House
Skatepark Films, the production house founded by Manjari, told VICE World News, "Skater Girl captures the experiences of many skaters. The film attempts to stay authentic to the skateboarding community across the world and an extensive research has been done across many years".
Earlier, speaking to Gaon Connection, Vinati Makijany had said, "(Gond was) just one of many girls we interacted with on one occasion where she was part of a larger casting workshop we conducted for that village, all of which is documented. When she was offered a cameo to play herself (just like other skaters), she declined saying if it’s not their story, they do not want to be in the film".
Reinhard, who has been credited in the film, had told Gaon Connection that she was thanked for her contribution in the film's credits but she felt that the girls including Asha also deserved to be credited. To which Manjari had added, "Ulrike is legally still under contract as a research consultant, and is aware of the scope of her work, which included facilitating casting workshops in Panna, and is spreading misinformation in spite of her saying she doesn’t want to associate with the film."
Reinhard claimed that she exited the contract because she disagreed with the filmmaker's approach, and added that a contract should also have been signed with Asha and the other children at Janwaar.
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