wogma rating: Watch, but no rush (?)
A sports drama that is hardly the best sports film around yet goes beyond. A social drama that aims to get you involved in the topic, not deeply educated about it. Yet, together makes for a film worth your time and energy. (Available on Zee5)Read more
Rashmi Rocket leaves you with a surge of mixed feelings. You want to admire it for not going the under-dog route, but you cringe at the other typical tropes it gleefully wears on its sleeve. After the problematic first half, you question yourself for being intrigued by the social issue it has taken up. You don’t want to be disappointed just because a court case got you excited, right? But Rashmi Rocket redeems itself by giving a rounded first set of arguments for and against gender testing in athletics.
The film doesn’t stray away from the norm too much but still manages to leave a mark.
It doesn’t intend to educate you about the issue in depth. And I didn’t resent it for that because it goes beyond scratching the surface. For a change, I didn’t mind that femininity was questioned from different angles, including motherhood. That last bit is a double-edged sword. I ended up liking it because the movie goes on to say that it is not enough. In the process, it becomes just a tool to make a point, exposing the lack of finesse in the writing.
Similar awkwardness shows in Rashmi Rocket’s portrayal of its villains. The characters seem forcibly mean. The film’s heart is so much in the right place that the nastiness seems like a means to an end, rather than being an organic part of the story. I guess the writers took their signature dialogue to heart—the process matters, not the end. Though, the contrived insertion of these vile characters does a disservice to the philosophy.
Having said that, not all is wrong with the writing. Rashmi Rocket (Tapsee Pannu) makes an endearing speech to an unexpected audience. The 13-second reminded me of the 70-minute speech from Chak De! India. Also, the overall story and what the film really wants to tell, compensates for the otherwise inconsistent writing. In fact, it has been a while since I enjoyed the second half of a movie much more than the first one.
At the same time, the first half allowed me enough time to wonder about all that was wrong. Tapsee Pannu’s forcibly darkened face was bothersome. Her character’s mom transitioning from conservatively asking her daughter to behave like a daughter to being a leading feminist in the village didn’t seem like a natural change. For the sake of drama, heads turned to notice Rashmi (Tapsee Pannu) was running faster than others, even when she was running by herself—the difference in speed was a little over 1 second for 100 meters. Maybe I am naïve, but the body-shaming that Rashmi was subjected to seemed out of place too.
However, even if not the telling, the story allows these follies to dissipate as the film progresses. Usually, when a scene is referenced later in the movie, you can tell that the scene has been positioned so just for the referencing. Rashmi Rocket manages to do a couple of such references slickly. Its comment on provoking jingoism offsets its criminal self-referential dramatics. It even goes a step further and does nationalism as right as it can be done.
It helps that all actors, from Tapsee Pannu to Supriya Pathak to Supriya Pilgaonkar, the cast do what they usually do well. So, there is nothing mind-blowingly different because it isn’t necessary. The ensemble, especially the goofy Abhishek Banerjee and charming Priyanshu Painyuli, add to the comfort brought about by the ladies.
Similar awkwardness shows in Rashmi Rocket’s portrayal of its villains.
Strikingly enough, the film doesn’t stray away from the norm too much but still manages to leave a mark. Just the relatively untouched topic. The straightforward court case, the simple performances take care of the overt drama when it occurs.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Thumbs up, by Stacey Yount, Bolly Spice : ...As I said, I went in with no idea what was about to unfold, and Rashmi Rocket surprised me in so many ways! It was a woman’s story, a runners’ story, a family tale, a romance, and a sports drama. There were so many layers to this, it is deep, but that is what makes it so good. It is such an important woman’s athlete story that must be told, and I, for one, applaud the entire cast and crew for bringing this tale to the world. Rashmi Rocket will blow you away. I say it is a MUST watch!... full review
Thumbs up, by Smrity Sharma, Bollywood Life : ...Rashmi Rocket is not just another sports film that is a story of grit of an ambitious individual fighting all odds. It stands out for delving deep into a lesser known, lesser discussed ‘real’ aspect that ails sports and sportswomen around the world. And therefore, deserves all the attention. Also, it’s the Dusshera long weekend and this family drama is just the prefect break from all the overdone, high-octane actioners with the ‘burai pe acchai ki jeet’ over the top theme. We go with three and a half stars out of five for Rashmi Rocket.... full review
Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...The court case is overly dramatic, though the film’s writers are woke enough to take a dig at that too. The sub-plot consisting of a corrupt official using underhand antics feels hastily sketched. And we don’t know why Taapsee’s original complexion wasn’t retained in the film as the false tan doesn’t feel natural. But these are minor glitches in a film which raises crucial points. Female athletes should be treated more humanely and better facilities and pay grades be provided to them. Gender identity is the larger issue it raises. It’s up to an individual to identify with a certain gender and no one should question that. We’re slowly becoming more inclusive as a society and Rashmi Rocket will surely add positive vibes to that debate.... full review
Thumbs up, by Madhuri V, Filmi Beat : ...When Bhanuben (Supriya Pathak) casually complains to her husband how their daughter Rashmi doesn't listen to her, the latter tells her, "Arey, woh khud ki sunti hai na woh sabse badi baat hai." Rashmi Rocket is not just a tribute to women athletes who defy all odds to achieve their dreams, but also to every woman out there who dares to listen to her own voice, unafraid of breaking stereotypes.... full review
Thumbs up, by R.M. VIJAYAKAR, India West : ...In smaller roles, Umesh Prakash Jagtap as the cop, Mantra as the coach, Chahat Tewani as Rashmi in her childhood, Kshitee Jog as the doctor, Zafar Karachiwala as the defense counsel and co-writer Lisha Bajaj as the nurse get special marks. And Akash Khurana as Dr. Ejaz is an effortless natural under the direction of his son, Akarsh Khurana! The rest are all good, though Miloni Jhonsa and Namita Dubey do veer towards stereotypes.... full review
Thumbs up, by Shreya Mukkerjee, NewsBytes : ...In fact, such examples of female athletes being unfairly treated for their gender identity being brought into question are abundant. Thus the film was much needed. However, elements like romanticization of pregnancy (also seen recently in Mimi) sour the experience. While a woman can choose to balance her career and kids, it's also okay to prioritize her career.... full review
Thumbs up, by Vaibhavi V Risbood, Pinkvilla : ...Rashmi faces such moments a few times in her journey, and every time she is reminded of the dialogue by her dad. Hence, Rashmi Rocket becomes a sprinter who turns her personal battle into a race for respect, honour, and even her identity.... full review
Thumbs up, Sify Movies : ...The film is well-shot and boasts of good production values. Music, bursting with the flavours of Bhuj, is used fittingly. The songs 'Ghani Cool Chori', 'Zidd', 'Rann Ma Kutchh' and 'Zindagi Tere Naam', clearly, stand out in the narrative. Overall, 'Rashmi Rocket' is a film worth taking note of... full review
Thumbs up, by Stutee Ghosh, The Quint : ...Overall, with its runtime of two hours, Rashmi Rocket does a fine job of keeping us hooked till the finish line. Watch it and you won't regret it.... full review
Thumbs up, by Ronak Kotecha, Times of India : ...With powerful performances ‘Rashmi Rocket’ fires on all cylinders and stays the course of informing, entertaining and educating its audience about an archaic practice that should be left far behind in the race against inequality and bias.... full review
Thumbs up, by Aditi Sharma, Zee News : ...On the whole, when you overlook the melodrama and rushed first-half, Akarsh Khurana’s Rashmi Rocket has an unconventional storyline that can greatly contribute to conversations around gender equalit... full review
So-So, by Roktim Rajpal, Deccan Herald : ...Music is an integral part of a film about the underdog. Chak De !, for example, featured the iconic title track that attained cult status, This is exactly where Rashmi Rocket triumphs as it features a couple of memorable songs. Zidd arguably is the p...... full review
So-So, by Anupama Chopra, Film Companion : ...I think Abhishek had the most fun in this film – in the time-honored tradition of Hindi film lawyers, he chews the scenery, berating, cajoling and thundering. This is the best part of the film.... full review
So-So, by Vaishali Jain, India TV : ...For 'Rashmi Rocket', it's reasonable to say that the film has its heart in the right place. It asks the right questions and indeed is a start to an important conversation but don't expect it to blow your mind away.... full review
So-So, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...It’s good to see the criminally underused Varun Badola back on screen as a machinating Athletics Federation official, but you wish he had been given more to play with. Chirag Vohra, as part of Rashmi’s extended family, and so good in ‘Scam 92’, is wasted. You could put it down to the fact that most Hindi films which revolve around a titular character, create other characters solely to buoy or amplify the former.... full review
So-So, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Rashmi Rocket, to be sure, has its heart in the right place. If only it had kept a check on its lungs, it might have been a winner. Watch it for the lead performance and the blows it delivers on behalf of all female champions who have to fight much harder than their male counterparts to hold on to their place in the sun.... full review
So-So, by SRIJITA SEN, News18.com : ...Now the only thing that one should look forward to is Rashmi rocket starting a dialogue and making people ask why an archaic concept gender testing still exists after several examples of it wrongly ending the careers of women.... full review
So-So, by Deepti Patwardhan, Rediff : ...It has been a year of immense growth in sport. The pandemic amplified the fault lines, sport stars became advocates and activists for social change, de-stigmatised the issue of mental health. At a time when athletes are pushing boundaries of their scope of influence, Rashmi Rocket is politically correct without being enlightening.... full review
So-So, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...Director Khurana works harder on the relationships, which turn out to the drama’s strongest aspect. Rashmi’s sweet romance with Gagan is both old-fashioned and modern, while her bond with her mother is the best thing in the movie. If Rashmi Rocket has a second heroine, it’s Supriya Pathak Kapur’s Bhanu, who deals her daughter the tough hand that the movie refuses to.... full review
So-So, by Pooja Birala Jaiswal, The Week : ...While Rashmi Rocket makes for a decent watch for the subject, there are parts in the film where one is forced to question one's own intelligence. The film's music strikes a chord and leaves one humming long after the film is over. The dialogues - penned by Kanika Dhillon and Aniruddh Guha - are mostly conversational in nature. The supporting cast, too, is impressive, with Supriya Pilgaonkar in the role of Vira's mother, and others such as Priyanshu Painyuli, Varun Badola and Abhishek Banerjee, lending a fine hand.... full review
Thumbs down, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...But then again, I’m grateful for small mercies. At least the title isn’t literal; Rashmi Rocket could have well been the fictional biopic of the first astronaut to land on Venus. Because men are apparently from Mars.... full review
Thumbs down, by Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri, Free Press Journal : ...One senses the important question underpinning the narrative: What does it take to be a woman — is testosterone all there is or is motherhood the answer? It’s not a question that has a ready, easy answer. The muddle of a narrative that Rashmi Rocket is — alternating between campy courtroom shenanigans and wannabe sporting saga — barely scratches the surface of that prickly issue.... full review
Thumbs down, by Soumya Srivastawa, Hindustan Times : ...Rashmi Rocket does wish for better things for women. It makes resounding and loud calls for ending gender testing in sports, a practice that has traumatised many women over the years. However, how effective comparing women with high testosterone to Michael Phelps’ big hands will be, I am not sure... full review
Thumbs down, by ARNAB BANERJEE, Outlook India : ...In the midst of all the seriousness that the film is intended for, an out-of-the-blue song and dance featuring the lead actors, makes you wonder which way the film is headed. Pannu who is quite used to doing such characters with a deep seated conscience looks the part of a sportsperson admirably. Priyanshu is ably cast as an officer while Pathak by now must not be requiring lines to deliver as a mother- so often she has been playing such a role!... full review
Thumbs down, by Anuj Kumar, The Hindu : ...The supporting actors Priyanshu Painyuli, Abhishek Banerjee, Supriya Pilagaonkar, and Varun Badola pass on the baton smoothly too, but Khurana seems to have forgotten Rashmi’s father’s mantra. He relies less on effort, focuses more on the result.... full review
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