India | 2017 | 87 min | Assamese | Director Attending
Tucked away in the impoverished village of Kalardiya, Assam, ten-year- old Dhunu lives with her widowed mother and elder brother. While helping sell snacks at a local event one day, she is mesmerised by a band belting out hits on polystyrene instruments and decides to form an authentic band with a gang of local boys. Rupee by rupee, she saves for an electric guitar, encouraged by her mother who raises her with steadfast determination and encourages her to fulfill her dreams. But soon disaster strikes in the form of a village flood and, worse, from the day she reaches puberty, Dhunu is assailed by societal restrictions. Can she achieve her ambitions or will she give up—as do the boys in her band? Although shot on a shoestring, Village Rockstars boasts considerable artistry, with a light-footed style that’s part documentary and part tone poem.
Self-taught writer, producer and director Rima Das was born and raised in Assam and is now partly based in Mumbai. Her first feature was Antardrishti (2016). Rima also manages Flying River Films—a production company that supports local, independent filmmaking. Comparing the childhood of Village Rockstars’ protagonist Dhunu with her own, she says, “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! But I did have a dream. It’s definitely through Dhunu’s character that I relived childhood memories like climbing betel-nut trees with boys, which was frowned upon.”