When men can go to parlours for pedicure and manicure, why can’t women do stunts?” This is how Pune’s stunt girl Urvashi Patole is likely to react if you call her a tomboy. “What has sport go to do with gender?. Or a mobike for that matter?”
Urvashi Patole is among the few Indian stunt girls, to have driven her way into the biking circuit: traditionally a male domain. Two years ago, when she was bitten by the biking bug, she had nothing except the will. Neither family support nor a mobike.
Her father, a retired colonel, discovered only a few months ago that his daughter was into “big time biking”. He could not stop her but imposed conditions. He does not for instance, allow her outstation trips: “Not with boys” he says. It is ironic that the Colonel was a bike enthusiast and owner of more than half a dozen bikes. Wounded in the 1971 war, he had to give up his biking passion forever.
No one knew when she got in touch with the all male bikers Absolute Insane Riders group. Or how she managed to practise every Sunday. Her USP: Willingness to test Danger. Despite accidents and mishaps she is all set to start .an all women bikers group to train daring women in performing stunts.
A tough call because there may not be many takers. And even she manages a handful to join in, it means sweat and blood and ofcourse a hole in the pocket: Buy a mobike, practice at least seven hours every day and pray that you remain safe: “Gruelling” says . Navinder Singh, who trains girls in Pune: “Once you are laid up, you may have to spend weeks in hospital and run huge bills. Training is indefinitely postponed,sometimes may never happen. Families of course dread anything happening to their girls” says Singh.
We want girls
The acid test lies in outstation trips: a perfect training ground for bikers: “It is on long stretches and hilly tracts that once skills are tested” says Urvashi.
But it is not easy for a single girl to spend a couple of nights with an all male group. Leena, a Delhi biker recently joined RODS (Riders of the Storm). It was only once that she managed a day trip: “It took me a week to convince my dad to let me go upto Manesar. By the time he agreed, my friends had left. I managed to catch up with them but had to be back home before sunset,” Leena told HT for whom “outstation trips” are a complete no-no. Urvashi, however, manages to go out of Pune with the male bikers: “She is unstoppable…” male bikers say about her.
They also encourage them: “Recently, two women bikers came to Ladakh with us and adjusted well. Numbers are growing and set to multiply” says Nishant Jha, a member of Bulls on Parade biking group. .
The good news is that stunt girls are in demand. The money may not be substantial but sponsors organizing shows want a couple to perform together on stage. And if a girl is in the forefront, the audience thrill-level is rather high: “For tough stunts a stunt girl is usually paid upto Rs 2,500 per day wich is peanuts given that the bike’s maintainance cost is steep” said Singh. Despite that all-women biking clubs including Female Bikers of India and Lady Bikers Association of India have come up.