Cultural barriers, safety issues and the family responsibilities placed on women are all factors as to why more Indian women do not participate in sports or exercise. The new documentary ‘Limitless’ follows a group of Indian women who are determined to run, despite the disapproval of their families, constant catcalls and even the embarrassment of their children.
Director Vrinda Samartha introduces viewers to eight Indian women ranging from their early twenties to their late sixties as they navigate city streets that are often bumpy, literally and metaphorically. We had the chance to catch up with Samartha, whose film is screening at the New York Indian Film Festival on May 12, on the red carpet ahead of the festival’s opening night.
The Teal Mango: I loved the idea for this documentary. For a country of India’s size, there are very few facilities for athletes, particularly women athletes.
Vrinda Samartha: Yes, that’s how we started the film. The women in the film come from various backgrounds and they found running and discovered that they came out feeling liberated. But because there aren’t facilities for women who want to run they usually run on the road, but they feel very unsafe doing so. We wanted to make people more aware of the uncondusive environment for women who want to run.
And that’s not just the safety aspect of it, but other things as well — things like taking fewer responsibilities at home and not feeling guilty about it.
TTM: Are you a runner yourself?
VS: I run on and off. I’ve done long distance running, but not regularly. But I have a lot of runner friends and we started talking about running and the emotions around it. We had a lot of friends that would be out there running but they would run with such heaviness because they’d feel guilty.
There were also women runners who were very scared about running outside. They wanted to run by themselves, but they had to run with some company for safety reasons.
TTM: So what do the women in the film wear while running?
VS: Some wear saris, actually. We caught a lady running in a sari in the film. It was very exciting.
‘Limitless’ is screening at the New York Indian Film Festival on May 12. For more information, click here. Be sure to also check out our coverage of the documentary ‘Breaking the Bee’ and ‘Still Rolling: The DDLJ Story.’