What is the story about?
A mother fights tooth-and-nail to save her baby who suffers from an acute case of hydrocephalus.
It would be a mistake to think that Rooting for Roona is only about a child born with a birth defect. Directors Pavitra Chalam and Akshay Shankar frame the narrative in such a way that it also captures the various challenges faced by Fatema Begum, Roona's mother. Fatema is inherently aware of her daughter’s fragile mortality, and yet she chooses to put up a fight because she lives her child.
Over the course of five years from 2013, Fatema's struggles to get Roona operated upon to remove the hydrocephalus becomes an obsession with her. The director’s, however, take care to not portray her as a figure seeking sympathy from everyone. What she is after is widespread acceptance of her daughter as a normal human being. Even after giving birth to a son, Akhtar, Fatema continues to dote on her daughter.
The documentary ends on a downbeat note, and yet even though the characters get on with their lives, Fatema's immense love for Roona is what you take away from the show.
Music & Other Departments
The camerawork by Umakant AN, Divakar Chopra, Sreekanth Sivaswamy, Sujit Anand, Mark Swaroop, Udhay Thangavel, Sean Somanna and Nonidh Yadav captures the trails of Roona and Fatema in detail, as well as the vibrancy of the rural countryside of Tripura. Tapas Relia's score adds a note of melancholy and poignancy to the visuals.
The camera follows every move by Fatema, Abdul and Roona over the course of five years. There are some memorable sequences, such as when the entire crew gets stuck in a domestic squabble between Fatema and Abdul, her husband. But the most revealing moment comes when Abdul confesses he may have rushed into fatherhood and sometimes wishes he could run away. It’s a telling line about his own frustrations.
Sometimes the nature of the storytelling can feel overtly manipulative.
Did I enjoy it?
Yes. I got emotional watching this.
Do I recommend it?
Yes. Everyone in need of self-belief needs to watch this beautiful tale. It is a timely reminder that love and acceptance are all that the world needs right now.