India is a man’s country, where men dominate in both entertainment and sports. That’s true even in the local levels of both industries that brush women off. Thankfully, cinema’s job is to focus on all people. That includes the women in the sidelines who deserve their place in any arena. Women who love sports and want to play and not just watch.
And that’s what Ameesha Joshy and Anna Sarkissian’s documentary With The Ring is for. It follows a few female boxers, one of whom is Mary Kom, who was 23 when the film started shooting. The film cuts between her younger and older self. By the time she reaches 32 she would have won 5 championships.
The film also focuses on two of Mary’s contemporaries. Laisram Sarita Devi fights with such intensity but the boxing politics catches up with her. Chotto Loura, on the other hand, takes the politics in stride. But she also deals with issues of sexuality as a woman who passes as a man in public.
Being female boxers are two strikes against the three subjects. But there’s one more aspect of Mary and Sarita’s lives that complicate their worlds. They’re both Northeast Indian, looking more East or Southeast Asian than South Asian. Both prove their loyalty to a country that treat them like second class citizens.
The story gets a boost from its raw visuals. It’s indicative of the changing technologies from the film shot for a long time. But it also catches its subjects in the background, sensing their fighting styles. It even shows some of their competitors, showing as much joy and pride as they do. It’s nice to see a film with such sensitivity towards people in front of its camera.
With This Ring screens on Saturday, August 5th at 1:00 PM at Cineplex Mississauga.
- Release Date: 8/5/2017