At the JIO-MAMI film festival 2017

Rockstar from the village

Rima Das’ Village Rockstar was received with much applause at the recently-concluded Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The Assamese film, which is written, directed and produced by Rima Das, is set in a small village called Chhaygaon in Assam, where the filmmaker hails from. It tells the story of a girl (Dhunu, played by Bhanita Das) who is rebellious and ambitious and dreams of owning a guitar someday.

In a telephonic chat, an elated Rima tells MetroPlus about her second directorial, lack of recognition of talent in Assam and more. Excerpts:

How excited are you with the response Village Rockstar received at TIFF?

It felt great. The story is set in my village and is very close to my heart.

The movie subtly addresses issues of gender inequality and women empowerment. Was this the core of the story from the beginning?

I didn’t set out to make a statement. When you write a story, you cannot separate yourself from the content. Initially, it was the story of a few boys and their rock band, but Dhunu came alive when I met the girl. She stole my heart. I just had to make her the protagonist when I saw her act.

In one of the scenes, the protagonist is seen telling her friends, “Look, the tree I used to climb is under”, followed by a procession of children in a flooded field chanting, “ban flood, ban rain”. Was it a conscious decision to show the devastation of the annual flood in the State?

Yes. As a director and writer, we have a social and moral responsibility to throw light on the pertinent issues. However, I didn’t want to put out my point of view very loudly. That particular scene was to convey the irony that rain cannot be banned. The aftermath of the rains is shown through the eyes of children.

People from the Northeast need to come forward and tell stories about people from the Valley and cast regional talents. I have plans of making a Hindi fiilm and working on an international project, but for now, I’m concentrating on my next, a teenage love story set in Assam Rima Das, filmmaker

Did you try recapturing your childhood through this film?

I didn’t grow up in such poverty; I was fortunate that way. My father was a teacher and I also didn’t have a dream of buying a guitar (laughs). But I did have a dream. It’s definitely through the protagonist’s character that I relived childhood memories like climbing beetle-nut trees with boys, which was frowned upon.

You said the film is about “what possibilities dreams can unleash.” Do you think people from the Northeast especially need to dream, given the lack of opportunities?

I think one needs to plan and use whatever resources are available. Unfortunately, the State itself doesn’t recognise and nurture its talent. The government should come forward for the cinema industry to thrive. There is hardly anyone who knows about the movie back in Assam.

In an interview, you mentioned about being depressed during your struggling days in Mumbai. Was it because there was hardly any representation of the Northeast in Hindi cinema?

Mumbai is very competitive. People from the Northeast need to come forward and tell stories about people from the Valley and cast regional talents.

Are you planning a release in Assam?

No. I am looking for a release across India.

You have already started shooting your third film, another self-funded project...

I have many plans. I also want to work on an international project. Besides, I plan to make a Hindi film as I have been living in Mumbai for eight years. But for now, I am concentrating on my next - a teenage love story set in Assam.

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 9:51:08 PM |

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