With This Ring, 2016, Documentary by Ameesha Joshi and Anna Sarkissian.
With This Ring….is a sentence usually followed by “I thee wed”, but you are in for a big surprise. This is not a feature film about romance and happily-ever-after stories, although three young women are involved and they do get married. This indie movie is India’s answer to A Million Dollar Baby, except that it was not produced by a big Hollywood star nor does it feature a young woman who became a star after playing the role of a female boxer. Nor is it a screen-writer’s phantasy. It is a heart-felt and joyous documentary produced by two young Canadian women over the course of six years and multiple visits to India and other boxing championship venues. The protagonists are MC Mary Kom and Sarita Devi, both from Manipur, a Northeastern province of India and Chhoto Louro, from Haryana, a province adjacent to Delhi.
These three women share some similarities in their backgrounds. They come from disadvantaged traditional milieux and they were born in a country where female foeticide – and even infanticide – is endemic. In fact, the ratio of women to men has been decreasing considerable over the years. For Mary, Sarita and Chhoto to have become boxers and multi-medal world champions in such an environment is mind boggling.
The story line starts with boxing training camps in different parts of India. In one such camp participants are expected to train full time for a year with monthly visits to their families. One of the boxers started training unbeknownst to her family until she won her first championship. The other one, in spite of her shyness and unassuming personality, was able to develop an extraordinary stamina and technique. The third one won an international championship several months after giving birth to twins and went on to win five consecutive world championships.
At first I tried to keep track of the different championships these three incredible women had won, but decided that score-keeping was a futile game. Suffice it to say that they raised the stature of the Indian Olympic boxing team to a preeminent position. And they did so with little or no sustenance from their community expect for their spouses and the sporting milieu. Just imagine what Indian women could achieve if society at large gave them the sustenance that all human beings need to thrive!
Do watch this film, even if you are not a boxing buff. I’m not but I enjoyed it thoroughly.
With this Ring premieres in Montréal on April 3, at 7 p.m. Room H-110, Concordia University.