These are not scenes you might notice on your everyday run, but this is the reality of women and running that Limitless hopes to explore. A pregnant woman runs on the road, while a sexagenarian talks of benefits of running which she experienced when she started running in her 50s; a household help sprints on the beach, a mother speaking to her daughter about running – that and more is seen in Limitless, a documentary that’s making the rounds of film festivals, and earning applause from runners as well as cinema-goers.

The doc follows eight women from Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru who have taken up running at various stages in their life, some for fitness, others for the reasons such as alone time or the joy and freedom that running provides. Limitless hopes to shed light into the problems women runners face, which parallel some of the more pressing social and security issues that women experience in day-to-day life, whether it’s about going to work or having to explain their choice of clothing. Produced by Bengaluru-based India Amateur Runners Trust (IART), and directed by Vrinda Samartha,  Limitless intends to explore the running scene in the country and improve the running experience of amateur runners, especially women runners.

mobiefit spoke to Samartha about some of the challenges she faced while making this documentary and the process of selecting the runners, as well as gain some insights into running and women runners.

Where did the idea for Limitless stem from?
Indian Amateur Runners Trust approached us with the intention of a doing a film on women runners. It was their initiative to make the running space better for women. I was excited to take it up, because to me it was a subject that would lend itself to talking about many issues that women face at large.

What were some of the issues you wanted to shed light on before starting on this production?
We went in with a open mind. We just wanted to capture the ordinary women of today, where they stand, what they want, what their fights are about and what their personal triumphs are. We did not want to impose any of our ideas. The only thing we made sure was that we get women from different strata of society. It was important to get different perspectives and different voices. The stories of these women dictate the narrative of the film.

Still from Limitless: A Documentary on Women & Running
Still from Limitless: A Documentary on Women & Running

Is the final cut in line with what you had envisioned?
Yes. Its very life like. So many perspectives and nuances and layers have come out through these women. I think that’s the beauty of the format of a documentary film itself.

How many women runners did you meet and interact with during the prep work?
We met quite a few men and women runners to firstly understand what long distance running means. The passion that each of them expressed was amazing. We also attended marathon events. Spoke to some of the veteran women runners who gave us an idea about the changing scene over a period of time. And then for our stories, we spoke to around 12 -15 women before we came down to the 8 women we shot with.

Was there a deliberate effort to shape the story before interviewing the subjects? Or did the subjects lead you to the story?
When we started on this project we did promo/fundraiser film where we also asked people to write in with their stories. Most of our stories we picked up from here. Some like Seema we actively followed throughout the filming, while some others came as suggestion from other runners we had met in our research. Also, we had a broad idea about the issues we wanted to touch upon, but the story really formed through our subjects, only when we started our shoot with them and by what they led us to.

What kind of reactions do you get from anyone who has seen it?
Each one’s take out has been different. Each of them have found different moments of the film memorable and relate different characters. Each of them have picked up different things from the film that has touched them the most and that is amazing. The best part is when the men who watched it felt that its a film for everybody and not just women or just runners.

Still from Limitless: A Documentary on Women & Running
Still from Limitless: A Documentary on Women & Running

Which of the 8 stories from the film moved you the most?
Its hard for me to say that, they have all left a impression on me. I love all the my women, I think that’s why they are all there in the film.

Where do you hope to screen the film?
Indian Amateur Runners Trust is planning on having as many screenings as possible. We will also be doing the festival rounds. It will also be available on YouTube eventually.

Are you a runner as well? Can you share your story of how you got into running?
I have always enjoyed running, but I run only short distance and am a recreational runner. I run when I feel like it.

If you had to boil down the film to a single line/scene what would it be?
A journey beyond the finish line.

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