This one races ahead with powerful performances


HISTORY: Inspired by true events, Rashmi Rocket is the story of a speedy sprinter, whose rise to the top is clouded by a covert gender test. Will she resign herself to fate or will she fight prejudice and conspiracy against her for the greater good of Indian female athletes?

REVISION: Growing up in a small town in Kutch Bhuj, Rashmi (Taapsee Pannu) is a brand of fire right from the start. She gets into fights with boys and is a rebel at heart. Her dark skin and youthful mannerisms instantly set her apart from other girls her age, but beyond all that, the only thing that makes her special is her ability to run like a cheetah. Encouraged by family members, especially her equally headstrong mother Bhanu Ben (Supriya Pathak), Rashmi goes on to represent India at the Asian Games. Everything is going well, until a gender test abruptly ends her career, breaking her spirit and morals, questioning her own identity as a woman.

Unlike other sports dramas, ‘Rashmi Rocket’ isn’t just about that decisive game at climax. But still, the fascinating story of Nanda Periyasamy, the sharp script by Aniruddha Guha and the skillful direction of Akarsh Khurana, hold your attention from start to finish, where the race for justice unfolds in court. ‘Rashmi Rocket’ is more of a courtroom drama with an intensely important and relevant topic that is debated and that prompts dialogue. However, the film’s execution never becomes preachy or overtly patriotic. Sometimes it becomes convenient and makes one wonder if female athletes, who have actually faced prejudice and identity crises due to their genetic makeup, are privileged as protagonists here. Because in reality, their lives are much darker. Of course, that is an ideal setting and the film defends how these women deserve a normal course of life and a chance to be heard. Above all, after a mere test not only ends their career but also makes them the object of ridicule and discrimination.

Taapsee Pannu once again proves his mettle, embodying Rashmi’s personality, physically and mentally. Her effort to celebrate Rashmi’s victory and endure her pain is as real as it sounds and the actress doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to getting us to support her character. Her makeup could have been more believable instead of showing her some darker shades.

There are a myriad of character actors, each performing their role to perfection. Priyanshu Painyuli is lovable as the supportive husband, standing up for the love of his life when the odds are firmly against him. Abhishek Banerjee does well as Rashmi’s somewhat goofy but determined defender. Supriya Pilgaonkar is credible as a judge and Mantra is well chosen as the strict coach of Rashmi’s team.

The music by Amit Trivedi and the lyrics by Kausar Munir go seamlessly from inspiring to emotional, but the background score in the courtroom scenes sounds a bit out of place. The scale of the film, although not very large, does justice to the demands of the script. Major racetrack scenes depicting a stadium full of cheering crowds in wide shots are brought to life with excitement.

With powerful performances, ‘Rashmi Rocket’ shoots full steam ahead and stays on course to inform, entertain and educate its audience on an archaic practice that should be far behind in the race against inequality and prejudice.

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