In a TED talk, Atita Verghese tells us that she was 19 years old when she first began to skateboard in India. She didn’t have her own skateboard back then, but she laughs when she says that she would watch boys skateboarding at a local park, and practice when they got tired.
Now, some years later, Verghese, who is India’s first professional female skateboarder, decided to make her own film. She brought together 12 other female skateboarders from 9 different countries to tour parts of India–they’ve travelled around Goa, Bangalore, Hampi, and Kovalam, not only encouraging young girls to skateboard, but also building them a place to skateboard. With her crew, Holystoked, they got together with Sebastian India Social Projects (SISP) in Kovalam to organise workshops with children–as the film tells us, SISP works along the lines of ‘no school, no skating’, trying in the process to get children to go to school as well.
The short film, called Girls Skate India, launched in December 2016. It begins with three women happily skateboarding down a crowded road, talking to each other about chai. But how hard is it to be a woman skateboarding in India? She says she learnt on the tour that, generating interest in skateboarding was never a problem–it was sustaining that interest. The film has Verghese and the other women skateboarders spending time particularly with young girls, and it’s most evident that they’re all enjoying themselves.
As Verghese said in an interview with Bangalore Mirror, “It’s a common sight – a whole bunch of boys and maybe one girl. Until girls see more girls doing this, they won’t believe they can do it too.”