Ladies First (film)

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Ladies First
Directed byUraaz Bahl
Shaana Levy Bahl
CinematographyJohn W. Rutland
Edited byAvdhesh Mohla
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • 7 July 2017 (2017-07-07) (Los Angeles)
  • 8 March 2018 (2018-03-08)
Running time
40 minutes

Ladies First is a 2017 Indian documentary on the life of archer, Deepika Kumari.[1] Directed by Uraaz Bahl and Shaana Levy Bahl, it chronicles her journey through living in poverty in Jharkhand, to later getting enrolled in the Tata Archery Academy and representing the country at several international tournaments.[2] It won an award at the London Independent Film Festival, the Best Documentary award at the New York Film Festival and Best Inspirational Film at the LA Film Festival.[3] It was screened at the 2017 Evolution Mallorca International Film Festival.[4]

It was shot before the 2016 Summer Olympics during the course of three years.[5] Ladies First was released on 8 March 2018 on the eve of International Women's Day on Netflix.[6] It was the first Netflix original documentary from India and released with subtitles in 28 different languages. The documentary was also screened for 100 odd kids of the Magic Bus NGO.[4]


The husband wife duo of Uraaz Bahl and Shaana Levy Bahl read an article about Deepika Kumari. Shaana said that "there was something about her struggle that struck a chord with Uraaz."[7] They then decided to make a documentary on her. Kumari was initially not interested in it and said that " [the time] was so close to the Olympics and I was extremely busy and fully focused on my training."[7] The crew travelled with her to Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Delhi where she and other athletes were given an official send-off by the prime minister for the 2016 Olympic Games. The shoot began a few months before the Olympics in August 2016 and was finished in seven months after the games ended.[7]


John Stanley of World Archery Federation called it a "short, but beautifully-filmed piece which uses Rio as a frame to take the audience through Deepika’s remarkable career so far."[8] Suhani Singh of India Today felt that the documentary focused "more on Kumari's origins story than demonstrating her impressive exploits on the field."[9] A review carried by the IANS wrote: "We never get to know Deepika's inner feelings as she struggled against gender prejudices and her destiny of poverty. It's like getting vivid glimpses of landscape from a moving train."[10]


  1. ^ Janardhan, Arun (8 March 2018). "'Ladies First': Going beyond the medal". Mint. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  2. ^ Shaikh, Sadaf (8 March 2018). "Why 'Ladies First' is a Documentary Every Indian Needs to Watch This Women's Day". Verve. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  3. ^ Wells, Chris (8 March 2018). "Netflix Releases Ladies First Documentary Starring Deepika Kumari". World Archery Federation. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  4. ^ a b Patel, Parita (8 March 2018). "Archer Deepika Kumari's inspiring story, Ladies First, is now on Netflix". Vogue. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Documentary 'Ladies First' traces archer Deepika's journey from Ranchi to Rio". The Times of India. 8 March 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  6. ^ Panchal, Komal RJ (10 March 2018). "Archer Deepika Kumari on Ladies First: It is a story of things we want to do and can't do". The Indian Express. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Patel, Parita (4 March 2019). "This film captures the inspiring journey of Olympic archer Deepika Kumari". Vogue. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  8. ^ "Reviewed: Ladies First Documentary Featuring Deepika Kumari". World Archery Federation. 9 March 2019. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  9. ^ Singh, Suhani (16 March 2018). "Ladies first: A Netflix documentary on the life of Jharkhand archer Deepika Kumari". India Today. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  10. ^ "'Ladies First' review: Documentary on sharp-shooting archer Deepika Kumari falls short". The New Indian Express. 2 April 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2019.

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