Ladies First

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Ladies First Movie Poster Image
Inspiring but cautionary docu about woman archer from India.
  • G
  • 2017
  • 39 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Success takes a lot of hard work, but also expert guidance so athletes know what to do and how to eat and gain confidence through mental and physical strength. Many people in India believe women don't belong on the playing field or in the workplace -- that they should stay in the home. Asks questions about media pressure and Olympic achievement when Deepika feels that people don't respect her despite her many other medals and achievements; it's all about Olympic gold.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Deepika Kumari defies gender stereotypes, proves women are strong and more than capable of great athletic achievement. She prefers to respond to naysayers with actions, not words. She models hard work, inspires young women, and advocates for change. Her mother defies stereotypes by working outside the home, enduring hardships like being beaten because of it. Deepika grew up emotionally closer to her father because of her mother's long working hours; they model affectionate teasing. Both parents very supportive, doing what they can for Deepika in difficult economic circumstances.


A man smilingly admits that he used to beat his sister because she works outside the home and says it's no big deal.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ladies First is a short documentary about Deepika Kumari, a young woman who overcame extreme poverty to become the top-ranked female archer in the world -- and India's best hope for Olympic gold. She's a great role model for overcoming gender stereotypes and negative messages and becoming an accomplished athlete on the world stage. Positive messages focus on working hard to achieve your goals and finding a way to go on after defeat and disappointment. Cautionary themes, on the other hand, include the lack of support that woman athletes in India receive and whether, as a country, it can achieve all that it might without devoting some resources to supporting young women's efforts. Cultural insights into Deepika's background, ingrained social sexism, and India's women's archery program provide educational value. Although there's no content of concern for little ones, Kumari's story may not hold younger kids' attention. The only violence is a man who smilingly admits that he used to beat his sister for working outside the home. In English and Hindi with dubbing.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byRavenW October 19, 2020

Gender inequality

Themes of gender inequality, family violence, poverty and class differences, mental health in preparation for olympic sporting events, confidence, injury and *s... Continue reading
Parent Written byMiki A. May 9, 2020

Reality of gender inequality

This short film teaches kids how girls struggle in other parts of the world just because they are girls. Also, teaches the restrictions in life due to poverty.... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 14, 2018

Inspiring Family Documentary

This is a great documentary following an Indian archer and her journey from poverty to the olympics. Short enough for kids with smaller attention spans, this 40... Continue reading

What's the story?

LADIES FIRST tells the story of Deepika Kumari, a young woman from India's second-poorest state who grew up to become the top-rated female archer in the world. Aside from the crushing disadvantages of extreme poverty, Deepika overcame a largely sexist culture in which her mother was beaten by her uncle for working outside the home and girls are told they don't belong on the playing field. As a child, Deepika wasn't even allowed to play outside for fear of recrimination from neighbors. Deepika left home at the age of 12 in search of a better life, hoping to ease her parents' burden. The free boarding school she attended had an archery range, and Deepika quickly displayed real talent for the sport. While still a teenager, Deepika found herself thrust into the international spotlight. With mounting pressure to bring home Olympic gold, but with almost no support from the government of India, Deepika had to figure out for herself how to keep going after devastating setbacks, and to find the inner strength and resources she needed to reach her greatest potential.

Is it any good?

This short-form documentary about India's best hope for Olympic gold at the Rio games is as inspiring as it is sobering. Ladies First isn't a feel-good story of triumph in the face of overwhelming odds. It doesn't shy away from the harsh realities of Deepika Kumari's background, or from taking India's leadership to task for the way in which aspiring female athletes are given short shrift. Western viewers may be surprised by the pervasive sexist attitudes that remain in parts of a country that beat the U.S. to a female head of state by over 50 years and counting.

Deepika herself is engaging, relatable, and easy to root for -- a genuine role model for anyone with aspirations in the face of tough odds. Her accomplishments are truly remarkable, and her story is far from over. Families will find a lot to admire about a young woman who shows what it takes to excel and to keep going after disappointments and setbacks, and who's willing to give it everything she's got.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the voices in Ladies First saying that women don't belong on the sports field or at work. Why do you think so many people in Deepika's world think that? How likely would you be to try a sport if that was the accepted attitude where you live?

  • What makes Deepika a good role model? What are her character strengths?

  • Who are some of your favorite female athletes? What do you admire about them? How are they like, or different from, Deepika Kumari?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sports

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

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