5 South Asian films highlighting women in sports
Recently, all of Bangladesh has been celebrating the success of our tigresses at the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Women's Championship this year. However, for South Asian women, choosing sports as a profession is rarely encouraged.
In a society where young girls are told that playing outdoors will ruin their beauty, movies that showcase the trials and tribulations of women in sports acts as a breath of fresh air.
So, if the win at the SAFF Women's Championship has you in the mood to see some fictional tales of women's persistence and struggles in sports, then I've got the perfect list for you.
"Chak De! India"
This iconic film was, in fact, inspired by the success of the Indian Women's National Hockey team at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. So impactful was its social role, that it played a crucial part in expediting the reorganisation of the Indian Hockey Federation.
In fact, it is considered to be one of Shah Rukh Khan's finest projects to date. In the movie, Khan plays the role of the team's coach. "Chak De! India" was among the first mainstream cinemas to highlight the plight of women in sports. The disparity female players face compared to their male counterparts, from societal to organisational level, is portrayed in a nuanced manner in the film.
"No Dorai", which translates to 'Not Afraid', was the first Bangladeshi film about surfing. The film beautifully portrays the local surfing scene in Cox's Bazar. At the centre of the plot is a young girl, who dreams of becoming a surfer.
Unfortunately, the sociocultural barriers she faces, along with the constraints set by her family, will resonate deeply with the audience. The film was inspired by the real story of a girl called Nasima, and received much hype and enthusiasm in Bangladesh.
In a part of the world where women are told their worth lies in delicacy and femininity, "Dangal" retaliates against such notions. The biographical drama film is based on the story of Mahavir Singh Phogat, a wrestler who trained his daughters—Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari—to become India's first, world-class female wrestlers.
"Dangal" showcases the genuine struggle wrestlers often face while perfecting their techniques and methods. The significance of the emotional side of a player's life, and how it affects their performance, is also highlighted adequately in the movie. "Dangal" was so successful in China that it set a new trend in the country, to move away from Hollywood. Additionally, its contribution to the India-China relations was evident when President Xi Jinping himself said that he had loved the movie.
"Saina" wastes no time trying to sugar-coat the journey of a sportswoman. Instead, it shows that success in sports is not easily gained. Based on the life of former Indian Badminton World Champion, the film does a brilliant job of narrating the ups and downs a player undergoes on their journey to greatness.
The movie also shows off the numerous trade-offs and sacrifices a player has to make—something which is often glossed over—especially in regards to female players.
The biographical drama, which is based on the story of Mary Kom—the only boxer to win eight World Championship medals. This film begins with her father disapproving of her decision to pursue a career in sports. This concept is readily a part of our society.
Later in the film, we see how administrative systems often fail to respect and remunerate female sportswomen. The hardships that come along with being a player are something rarely talked about, and this film does a great job of doing just that.
Each and every one of these movies, whether through their social message or their heart-warming narratives, reminds us once again that our girls deserve equal treatment in all the fields—especially that of sports.