Rashmi Rocket trailer launch: Director Akarsh Khurana says gender testing is discriminatory, humiliating
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Rashmi Rocket trailer launch: Director Akarsh Khurana says gender testing is discriminatory, humiliating

The trailer brings forth the important issue of gender testing and the fightback against it. This is the first time Taapsee Pannu and Abhishek Banerjee have worked in a film together.

Hia Datta
Sep 24, 2021
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Tapsee Pannu in a still fromt the trailer.

Taapsee Pannu-starrer Rashmi Rocket, helmed by Akarsh Khurana finally dropped its trailer today at a virtual launch event, ending the eager anticipation of the fans. The trailer also upped the wait for the digital premiere of the film on October 15 on Zee5. Along with Taapsee, the film features Priyanshu Painyuli, Abhishek Bannerjee and Supriya Pathak in key roles. Kanika Dhillon has co-written the film. Aniruddha Guha has done the screenplay. Nanda Periyasamy has written the story while Ronnie Screwvala, Megha Anand, Pranjal Khandhdiya have produced the film.

The trailer launch event had the director Akarsh Khurana, producer Pranjal and the lead cast sans Supriya Pathak. Talking about Rashmi Rocket, Pranjal Khandhdiya said, “I found the story idea very fascinating. Filmmaking is like having a relay race and it’s very important to ensure that everyone on the team is equally competent enough to pass on the baton from one another. The collaboration is so important, finding the right cast, director, the studio, co-producers and then the right platform to release. We have kind of managed to put it at the right place.”

The film depicts a female athlete’s journey and her struggles. The director Khurana found a good opportunity as he enjoys watching films about sports and courtroom drama. "I love watching mature romances and the story had the potential to have all these little elements. So, I could assimilate all the genres in the film which are emotional, engaging and even funny. The biggest draw is actually about the triumph of the human spirit at the end of the day.”

Watch the trailer here.

Rashmi is described as a born sprinter since her childhood. A bright future in sports, representing India awaits her but a ‘blood test’ comes in the way. Things come crashing down overnight as Rashmi is proclaimed to be “ladki kam, ladka zyada.” She is banned and the harrowing and hitherto largely unknown issue of ‘gender testing’ comes to the fore. Rashmi files a human rights violation petition against the Indian Athletics Association in what becomes a sprint for justice against the unethical laws in India. Abhishek Banerjee, who plays a lawyer in the film, teams up with her to get her justice.

Taapsee Pannu agreed that the film was the toughest in her career so far as she had to undergo a gruelling physical transformation for the role. Talking about the prejudiced comments she faced on social media about her physique, where she was told she is looking like a man, Taapsee also weaved in the issue of gender testing in Indian sports, saying, “These are those stereotypes that I really wanted to shatter. I mean who decides what’s feminine and what isn’t? Is it just about the muscular build? There are hormonal imbalances or abnormalities in certain females which is why they have that kind of physique." She asked if women need to change their genetics to fit into a perceived notion of society. "In my case, when people started telling me that my body is looking like a man, I took it as a big compliment because it validated my hard work. But it’s also heartbreaking at the same time because some women actually have to live with those comments every day just for the way they look.”

One of the first people who came on board was the screenplay writer Aniruddha Guha who used to be a journalist as well. Akarsh said that they found the history of gender testing during their research for the film dated back to the '20s and '30s. "There were imposters. Men would pretend to be women in sports events and win them, which later came into the limelight. But the purpose of these tests later changed. It started discriminating and humiliating people on the basis of their physique, and there is no logical or scientific reasoning for it. That is the debate the film is also about, that you can’t tell someone who they are. The most important freedom is the freedom to be who you really want to be,” said Akarsh.

Abhishek Banerjee, who was last seen in Netflix’s anthology Ankahi Kahaniya, said that the mindset of people should change. "Sportspersons go through a lot of hardships about which we only talk during Olympic events and not during our regular conversations. I got to know about this issue through my character. I read the comments that came Tapsee’s way about her physical transformation and realised that the problem lies in our mindset," said the Stree actor, who also added on a lighter note that the fact that he gets to play a ‘white collar’ guy for the first time in his career is what attracted him to the story.

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