KAMALI GOT WHEELS
By the time six-year-old Kamali Moorthy arrived in Bengaluru to meet Sasha Rainbow, it was dusk. Accompanied by her mother Suganthi, Kamali was there to shoot a music video for Alpha Female, a song by the British band Wild Beasts. It was the first time she and her mother had left their small fishing village in Tamil Nadu. Thought completely exhausted, Kamali’s eyes shone when she spotted the skate park where she would be shooting. “The little girl’s energy was magical. We all came to life again,” remembers Rainbow, whose documentary Kamali on the young skateboarding sensation, recently won Best Short Documentary at the Atlanta Film Festival and has qualified for the Oscars 2020.
While making the music video,
Rainbow intended to make a documentary on the side. She was interested in India’s female skater movement. When she saw Kamali skating down the ramp in a little dress, she knew she had to be a part of it. After meeting Kamali and her mother and observing their relationship, she realised the documentary had to be about them. “Everything Suganthi does to empower Kamali seemed to represent the change happening in India now and how it takes one person to break the cycle and create major positive change.” Shooting Kamali, a selffunded project, was hard. Rainbow had just a month in India. “It was frustrating. We wanted the film to also look at the community around them, but it’s funny how these things work out. Because of the little time, we focused on the relationship between Kamali and her family which has made it a more personal film,” she says. With no formal training, Rainbow’s work is more emotional and intuitive. She likes that the documentary format brings to life the real world through other people’s eyes, but is also in talks to develop Kamali into a fiction feature-length film. “There’s a huge audience for empowering women-led stories in India and across the world,” she says.
SKATER GIRL (left) Sasha Rainbow with Kamali; and stills from the documentary