The film is about a young girl from a village who wants to start a rock band.

Of a girl and her guitar Meet Rima Das of Village Rockstars indie film at MAMICourtesy: YouTube/Trailer Screenshot
Flix Entertainment Friday, October 13, 2017 - 16:21

The first thing that strikes you when you watch the credit reel of Village Rockstars is the number of times Rima Das’s name appears. She dons the hat of director, writer, producer, cinematographer and even that of the editor.

The self-taught director had a small crew when she was shooting her previous film Man with the Binoculars, but for Village Rockstars, the only hand of support she had was that of a cousin, a college student.

Village Rockstars is the story of a young girl who wants to buy a guitar and start a rock band. The 10-year-old village girl weaves dreams of owning a guitar while fighting her poverty and natural calamities.

The film took over three years to make as it was shot entirely in natural light. Das let the film take its own course, but also kept the schedules of the kids in mind. Her films are set in the village where she’s from because it’s an area where she knows the space as well as the people.

Das lived in Mumbai for about eight years before she went back to her village Chaygaon, Assam. One day, during an open gathering, she saw kids perform with fake instruments and that’s what gave rise to the whole idea of the film, she says.

When asked why she decided to do this by herself, she said that she had bought her own camera, and that once the idea struck her, she decided to do it because she had always planned on making a short film or documentary by herself. “I didn’t even imagine that I would do a feature film myself,” Das said.

In fact, the lead character is played by one of Das’s cousins, who Das believes is just like she was when she was at the age. “I used to be just like her when I was growing up. I also used to be the only girl hanging around with the boys. I decided to incorporate that into the film as well,” Das told TNM.

She stuck to a script but also improvised based on location and inputs from the kids. She only did shoots when the kids had holidays or were off from school work. The film is set against an idyllic background, and that comes through.

When asked if there were any major influences in her method of filmmaking or on the film itself, Das says, “I learned filmmaking by watching old movies. I watched films from outside India as well. Watching international filmmakers like Majid Majidi, and from India, Satyajit Ray. I saw Pather Panchali in 2007, then I realised that these kinds of films exist and I also could, one day, make them."

Talking about the process of filmmaking for Village Rockstars, Das says that the filmmaking was very instinctive. “I mostly go with my own instinct. When I started shooting, I filmed what I saw. I didn't plan much. Mostly, I tied the location with my characters and that's how I decided what shots I was going to take. I wasn't inspired by any film or filmmaker. I grew up watching world cinema. It is a very spontaneous process.”

Village Rockstars has been shortlisted for Oxfam Best Film on Gender Equality Award and will be screened at the Mumbai Film Festival.

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