Netflix Documentary 'Rooting For Roona' Chronicles The Life Of A Brave Girl With Hydrocephalus

Netflix Documentary 'Rooting For Roona' Chronicles The Life Of A Brave Girl With Hydrocephalus

NEW DELHI || ‘Rooting for Roona’, a documentary currently streaming on Netflix, tells the incredible story of Roona Begum from Tripura, a child born with hydrocephalus, and how her family’s struggle to raise an extraordinary child against insurmountable odds.

Shot over 6 years, the film offers a rare glimpse into the reality of families living with birth defects in rural India. The Netflix Original documentary is directed by award-winning filmmakers Pavitra Chalam and Akshay Shankar and is produced by Bangalore based production house Curley Street.

Roona’s story first made global headlines when a local photographer captured a photograph of her that went viral and triggered an amazing chain of events. She was born with a birth defect called hydrocephalus that caused her head to swell to an unprecedented size.

Her parents, Abdul (17) and Fatema (22) were told by local hospitals in Tripura that nothing could be done. A wave of global attention and support resulted in Roona being flown to the Fortis Memorial Research Institute (FMRI) in Gurgaon where head neurosurgeon Dr. Sandeep Vaishya treated her.

Hydrocephalus is a condition where there is an abnormal buildup of fluid in the brain. Roona’s head size was 94 cm when her photo made global headlines in 2013.

Speaking about the documentary, Dr. Sandeep Vaishya says, “It was an emotional case for all of us. We became so attached to Roona and she made us believe that life has its own mysteries. We believe that with our efforts Roona was able to have a few additional years with her family. The documentary highlights the bravery of little Roona while fighting a menacing neurological condition. We thank Netflix for choosing to showcase this documentary and the directors for documenting Roona’s story.

The film documents the several path-breaking medical interventions undertaken to reduce the size of Roona’s head by Dr. Vaishya and his team. Dr. Vaishya has since conducted several similar surgeries on children around the world, the most recent being an orphaned child in Russia who is now able to walk.

Like Roona, every year an estimated 8 million children - 6 percent of total births worldwide - are born with a serious birth defect. The film issues a clarion call to the global health community to make birth defects a global health priority.

Pavitra Chalam, director of Rooting for Roona said, “The documentary is a love story- her mother’s love, our love for this little girl and an army of loved ones who helped us bring this film to Netflix and the world. In the face of terrifying vulnerability and profound loss we have been able to tell a story of hope. Roona’s grace and unmatched will to live has moved me deeply and I know her story will capture hearts across the world.”

Akshay Shankar, director said, “Roona’s story is as unpredictable as it is inspiring. She beat the odds so often that it became expected of her. In her own gentle way, she made herself heard and now the world will hear her story. I can safely say that an audience will never forget her.” The film premiered on Netflix worldwide on 15 October 2020.

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