Rashmi Rocket – All You Need To Know:
Sex confirmation is a cause of dilemma and trauma among female players. Swimmer Pratima Gaonkar reportedly committed suicide after public commentary and disclosure on her failed sex confirmation test in the year 2001. Santhi Soundarajan, who managed to win the silver medal for her country in 800 m at Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, in 2006, failed in the sex confirmation test and reportedly got stripped of her award.
Another player named Dutee Chand was dropped from the 2014 Commonwealth Games at the very last minute, after the Athletic Federation of India stated that hyperandrogenism made her unfit to play as a female athlete.
Dutee Chand demanded justice and appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and won an interim judgment in the middle of the year 2015. It was known that the IOC would not be going to imposing the maximum testosterone level for the Summer Olympics of 2016. The victory of Dutee Chand is the single and only silver lining in this deep dark chapter in the history of Indian sports.
Dutee Chand’s story might be an inspiration for the movie Rashmi Rocket in the sense that the central character here too is struggling and fighting in a case against the whole Indian sports body while citing violation of her human rights.
In Rashmi Rocket, Taapsee Pannu plays the role of Rashmi, a natural sprinter who can run faster than anyone in her village, whether it is male or female, since her childhood. She gives up running due to a particular misfortune but decides to take it up over again at the instance and guidance of her beau, Captain Thakur, played by Priyanshu Painyuli, who is an athletics coach in the Indian Army.
She was an excellent player and won every race at the district and state level, and later when she got a chance to prove her mettle at the international level by Indian selectors. Though Rashmi is not professionally trained and finds it difficult to overcome the obstacles at first, her dedication to do something for herself and her country gives her a push, and later she learns the ropes quickly enough and starts qualifying for a place in the Indian team.
She wins medals at both the team and individual levels for India, but her victory doesn’t stay for too long, and is proved to be short-lived. She’s subjected to a random gender test and is determined that she has higher testosterone levels than permitted. She is humiliated harshly by the media, and is completely heartbroken. Her lover proposes to her for the marriage, which she accepts as she wants to disappear off into the solace of domesticity.
Eeshit, played by Abhishek Banerjee, a human rights lawyer, enters her life at this point and urges her to register a case, stating that she won’t be doing it just for herself, but there are hundreds of female athletes who might also be facing this. Rashmi understands the whole scenario and agrees to fight for herself. As the case continues to proceed, corruption and conspiracy comes stumbling out of the woodwork.
The movie takes a stand that sports committees should adopt a more humanitarian approach to such cases instead of running on a witch hunt against their athletes. They should support their sportswomen in their fight for justice in India and try to handle the situation with ease in the international arena instead of letting their morale down.
Branding a female as a man is bound to hurt her subjective mental well-being, tarnish her name, reputation, and remove her from endorsement deals. The movie should be lauded for simply stating that these kinds of tests are entirely wrong for female players and should be repealed. Rashmi gets manhandled by cops, is handled like a criminal by the authorities, and starts questionong her very existence because of that test. The movie also shows that it pushes athletes to pay attention to themselves and how the strong support given by the family is needed at this point.
Despite the excellent support from her husband, her mother, friends, and relatives, Rashmi still feels vulnerable and disrespected at times. She isn’t at fault at all but always feels like an outcast. The suffering and pain she undergoes are real indeed, and kudos to Taapsee for bringing that out through her power-packed performance. Taapsee is an amazing actress who successfully gives a strong soul to the film.
She gave her best and went through an unbelievable physical transformation to look like a top-level athlete, but more than the physicality she worked on, her portrayal of the mental exhaustion in the face of harassment must be praised.
We just need to say Bravo, Taapsee! but another actor who also did an amazing job that should be mentioned is none other than Abhishek Banerjee. His Eeshit is the soul of integrity that advances up for his lack of courtroom etiquette with the passion he demonstrates. He is supporting and fighting the case because he understands the unfairness of it all and, like a prize-fighter, holds his head down and retains swinging his fists till the bell rings.
The movie asks so many relevant questions about the society and its practics. It is up to an individual for identifying with a specific gender, and no one should question that. We are slowly becoming more inclusive as a society, and Rashmi Rocket will surely add positive vibes through its sensitive portrayal.
Edited by Anupama Roy