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The running sisterhood

Limitless, a film that talks of the attitude towards women who run, hopes to encourage more women to take up this healthy sport, breaking the many barriers they face

A pregnant woman runs with determination on the road, her hair and face catching the morning sun. A lady in her 60s talks of the benefits of running, which she took up well into her 50s, as she cooks in her kitchen. A household help sprints across the beach with great gusto. A mum asks her young daughter why she’s embarrassed that her mum runs... some glimpses from a film Limitless that will surely get women and hopefully, men thinking.

The film follows eight women from Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru who have taken up running at various stages in their life, for various reasons and with various goals. Women runners have never had it easy -- unsupportive families and a society that looks down upon them, demanding schedules where running is seen as taking time away from important household and office work, fear of being molested while running early mornings on lonely roads, discomfort with their own bodies, fear of eve teasers, of being seen wearing shorts in public...

Produced by Bengaluru-based India Amateur Runners Trust (IART), which works towards growing the running space in the country and improve the running experience of amateur runners, the film is directed by Bengaluru-based Vrinda Samartha and her production house Believe Films.

Saloni Arora, based in Bengaluru is one of the women featured in the film. The 32-year-old marketing professional who has been running for over two years, says she took to running when she was going through a divorce and needed to clear her mind. “Also, I was leading a sedentary lifestyle, and there was a feeling of unhealthiness and a general lack of self esteem.” She started running rather late in life, she admits because she didn’t know there were so many running groups, and she didn’t have a running buddy. “I wasn’t aware I could pick up this sport post 30!” She believes that all the stories told by the women in the film are relatable. “But, no matter what the hardship, it’s the realisation that a good mood is just a run away!” Saloni hopes that with a film like this, everyone realises they can take up running easily. And that men -- fathers and husbands -- could warm up to the idea of women taking up running seriously.

For the film’s director, herself a recreational runner, the kind of stories that came in when the film started getting made, were amazing. “I thought that the film could talk about issues that go beyond running that all women can relate to,” says Vrinda. “What moved me the most was the amount of intensity these women displayed. They were uninhibited and spontaneous and their honesty was striking. We wanted to make sure that the voices in the film were all different -- in terms of age, social strata, what they wanted, and what they were fighting for.”

Karishma Kaul Babbar, a 41-year-old real estate sales professional from Gurgaon, has been participating in half marathons for 10 years now. “Before that, I would jog off and on for a few minutes for about five years. In school, I was a short distance sprinter,” she says. “Running makes me feel liberated and helps in clearing a lot of issues that go on in my mind. Running time is exclusively my time and takes me to a meditative state,” she insists.

The biggest challenge, especially for married women, feels Karishma is to be able to take out time for themselves without feeling guilty about doing it.

Marathoner Ashok Nath, and founder-president of the IART felt that there was a need for a film like this to create awareness among people. “Unlike in developed countries where the percentage of women runners is nearly 50 per cent, it is a dismal 15 per cent or so here. As a running evangelist seeking to grow and improve our running space, it is only natural to encourage more women to follow their passion and not allow imaginary barriers come in their way. Also, more women runners improves our running space as it brings passion and better behaviour.”

The film will be screened in Bengaluru on November 12 at St. Mark’s Hotel at 3 p.m. Tickets are priced at Rs. 500 and includes snacks and drinks. You can walk-in or pre-register at youtoocanrun.com/races/?ee=607

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 9:29:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/The-running-sisterhood/article16439190.ece

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