Rima Das’ “Village Rockstars” won the Golden Gateway prize for Best Film in the India Gold competition, at the Mumbai Film Festival.
The beautiful film that the director Das dedicates to her hometown of Chahaygaon in the northeast Indian state of Assam, ‘brims with affection in every frame’. The Toronto Film Review writes of the film:
“When the Dublin schoolboys of “Sing Street” form a band, it’s all about scoring with a girl. In “Village Rockstars,” tucked away in an Indian backwater, a moppet also has rock ‘n’ roll dreams, but her goal of becoming a guitarist is motivated by larger issues, like rebellion, empowerment — and to send a message to the universe. Pluckily optimistic and unsentimental to a fault, writer-director Rima Das’ second film is a tonic to third world poverty porn. Das shot the film almost single-handedly on a minuscule budget, but it doesn’t impair the movie’s visual quality or its market potential one bit. In fact, the picture’s rustic charm and “You go, girl!” attitude should rock the house.”
The film of exquisite artistry, ‘shot in a light-footed style that’s part documentary, part tone-poem, without leaning on crowd-pleasing insertions of songs or performance numbers’, puts into focus the story of a ten-year-old Dhunu (Bhanita Das) who lives in a village in Assam with her widowed mother (Basanti Das) and elder brother Manabendra (Manabendra Das) and after having had attended a rock performance in her village dreams of becoming a rock star herself. The story that ensues of Dhunu trying to pursue her dream saving rupee by rupee in the innocence of childhood aspirations, speaks of a central theme of sexual discrimination and violence against women.
The film in Das’ thoughtful narration charmingly portrays the contrasts of expectations from boys and girls in the country and how they play out from person to person. The film through the rituals associated with Dhunu’s first period also narrates how the gender roles which are not that distinct in childhood are slowly solidified and all the while, the scenes do not leave their unearthly beauty and captivating innocence. Shot on a paltry budget, composed of non-professional actors from Das’ village almost entirely and complemented with a subserviently dominating musical score by Nilutpol Borah, the film reiterates the brilliance of the director as she tells a tale truly local to the roots and thereby, universal in appeal.
The film which was widely applauded at the Toronto International Film Festival recently and had won a host of awards in numerous film festivals across the globe has now won the Golden Gateway prize for Best Film in the India Gold competition, at the Mumbai Film Festival and also the best film on gender equality.
Running time: 87 MIN.
PRODUCTION: (India) A Flying River Films production. (International sales: Asian Shadows, Hong Kong.) Producer: Rima Das. Co-producer: Jaya Das.
CREW: Director, writer, editor: Rima Das. Camera (color, HD): Das. Music: Nilotpal Borah.
WITH: Bhanita Das, Basanti Das, Kulada Bhattyacharya, Manabendra Das, Boloram Das, Rinku Das, Bishnu Kalta, Bhaskar Das. (Assamese dialogue)