NOW ON TUBI! Get ready to outrun the wind with director Indy Saini’s definitive female biker documentary Women in the Front Seat. Saini embarks on a cross-country trip of the U.S. on a motorcycle for her feature-length debut. The filmmaker’s father was from Punjab and passed his love of riding on to her. Saini chronicles segments of her trip, including the long roads and wrestling with the weather. Along the way, she interviews other women from all over who own and ride bikes. These ladies are from all walks of life across every stratum and spectrum in this land. Some are weirdos, some are normal, and some are both, like the woman who is an androgynous model by night and a cop during the day.
The film quickly crumbles any stereotypes about women who ride motorcycles. One woman tells of when she was asked if she was a “d**e on a bike.” She had to run home and ask her husband what it meant. We are introduced to women’s motorcycle clubs, such as the Victory Riders and the New Mexico chapter of The Femme Fatales. All the participants confirm how much more fun it is riding in the driver’s seat. The world of two wheels is thoroughly explored through a female perspective, and thus, the insights provided make Saini’s film one of the most profound motorcycle documentaries ever made.
“…interviews other women from all over who own and ride bikes.”
While most picture biker culture through the outlaw gangs on TV, the landscape of motorized balancing acts is a lot more varied. Everyone has two things in common: 1) You are marked for death by the four-wheel vehicles, which will run you down without seeing you. 2) You’ll have the time of your life while you still got it. In solidarity, riders nod to each other as they pass. I recognize this world chronicled in Women in the Front Seat from my days toodling on a Vespa in Arizona. The footage is radical, with lots of those almost fetishistic detailed shots of the motorcycle components. There are a lot of spinning wheels to balance out the talking heads.
Outside selections from the song catalog of Steppenwolf, Judas Priest, and Motorhead, there aren’t many artistic renditions of how it feels to ride. This makes Saini’s contribution invaluable. While filtered through a prism of gender, the subjects’ oratories on riding are some of the most eloquent ever filmed. It is because they are not expected to ride that motivates these women to elaborate on what riding is like, with spectacular results. I can’t remember another documentary describing the motorcycle riding experience in this much detail. I guess no one filming dudes on bikes ever asked them what riding felt like and got an answer that didn’t compare it to sex.
With Women in the Front Seat, the audience is treated to a real taste of straddling a chrome lightning bolt. Saini showcases both the exhilaration and the exhaustion associated with the act. She lets you know how sore the saddle can get when riding all day, a fact of the road not talked about much. Intriguingly, the women added modifications that allow easier clutch shifting and reduces potential injuries. This is to motorbikes what Endless Summer was to surfboards. Even if your feet never leave the ground or a floor mat, you need to see Saini’s film, if just to get that brief, fleeting rush of racing the wind and beating its a*s.
For screening information, visit the Women in the Front Seat official website.
"…one of the most profound motorcycle documentaries ever made."