When chords of Satyajit Ray’s PATHER PANCHALI gets stringed in the innocently dreamy yet realistic aspirations of Majid Majidi and twines with the resounding beats of Sean Baker’s THE FLORIDA PROJECT, for a duet with today’s desi rock star helmers like Dileesh Pothan (MAHESHINTE PRATHIKAARAM), Raam Reddy (THITHI) & Chaitanya Tamhane (COURT), a pure magical song of dream, hope, limitations, childhood innocence & simplicity is sung with a resounding soul filling chorus.
Writer, director, cinematographer & editor Rima Das’s second movie after MAN WITH THE BINOCULARS (ANTARDRISHTI), VILLAGE ROCKSTARS is a profound piece of art that magically says more than what we see in those beautiful images. A motivational song sung from far east Assam, the movie echoes the magical brilliance and unparallel ambition of Rima Das as a filmmaker with remarkable elan.
The simplicity and incredible caliber of Rima Das to say bigger things in small incidents make her sit comfortably in the indie arty league of Dileesh Pothan, Raam Reddy , Chaitanya Tamhane etc, Rima Das the self-taught filmmaker shot this one with a digital camera comes with haunting results in sequences like ‘Ban the Floods!’ protest, the kids looking through colocasia leaves, The protagonist Dhanu relaxing on a swing with a guitar made of thermocol. Pure magic!!.
India’s official entry for the 2019 Oscars, VILLAGE ROCKSTARS is the most interesting selection seen after a long time, truly deserved and in line with India’s best bet till date – MOTHER INDIA & SALAAM BOMBAY!, fingers are crossed and astonishingly this little gem of a cinema is now aiming in what is considered to be the Kohinoor diamond – The Oscars. Yes, the movie has some traces that are somewhat akin to Sean Baker’s THE FLORIDA PROJECT and of course, the debate of cashing on poverty porn will be inevitable.
However, it will be impossible for anyone in the world who consider cinema as an art and have the sense of the sensibilities involved shy away from the impact the movie leaves on your mind, heart and soul.
Who has the right to dream?, the one who can afford or anyone?. Simple question but the way it is answered in Rima Das movie is a work of absolute brilliance. Dhunu (Bhanita Das – outstanding) the name seems to be derived from the word ‘dhun’ (tune) leaves in a picturesque village in Assam, she is passionate about becoming a rock star and flaunts her thermocol guitar whenever she gets the opportunity. The concerts done by underprivileged kids over here is an example of undying spirit. Drums, keyboards etc are made from house waste materials, the kids lip sync to songs getting played on a tape recorder and a small gathering of crowd mostly belonging to the same age are cheering and having fun.
The philosophy, the core idea of the movie is beautifully established. Whatever resources you have, the passion should be intact and deliver the best. The movie keeps on digging without making much noise, Dhunu is just like any other child, climbing trees, fishing, hanging around with boys and helping her widowed mother played by Basanti Das ( incredible) in the daily household works. The unadulterated innocence of childhood is marvelously captured.
The biggest achievement of Rima Das in VILLAGE ROCKSTARS is her deadpan approach, if somebody says that the filmmaker has photographed some beautiful images and played it in motion, it will be true to an extent, the movie in no way attempts to press on any points or issue that come across in those 120 minutes, incidents happen and like watching a live video, the message gets delivered and interestingly in indie piece of art, a view point or a comment is expected but here, the maker chooses to remain silent and allows the audience to analyze and feel free to comment.
Human ethos like acceptance, respect for elders is touched upon with perfection in this film. Dhunu’s father is a victim of floods but her mother blames his husband’s incapability to swim rather than cursing the nature for the loss. A grandfather in the village gives gyan (wisdom) from Mahabharata to the young kids and one day Dhunu asks about her dream and whether she will be able to achieve it. Without having the knowledge of Dhunu’s dream, the grandfather utters the feel good philosophy repeated time and again, he says, “You can achieve anything by working for it.’ Interestingly, when Dhunu shares that she dreams of owning her own guitar, the wise old man shifts gears and turns practical by saying, “’Guitars are costly. Maybe you can make do with a cheap one.’
Ironically, in Bollywood so called mainstream cinema that talks about dreams, the ratio of resources and tools are in balance, for example in Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 IDIOTS, the brilliance of Rancho (Aamir Khan) was backed by a wealthy entrepreneur and in a way polished at a top institute, with all respect to Hirani’s remarkable brilliance, the growth of this phenomenon was based on believing the textbook theory of maintaining a workable balance between demand and supply.
The world in general is ruled by this science, the demand for any dream should be backed by supply of resources, Rima Das VILLAGE ROCKSTARS may not fulfill the demand at the Oscar’s and can become a topic of discussion or may stunned the whole world!.
In any case, nothing can stop this beautiful story of humanity and dream that passionately without fail can motivate anyone to dream and massage their souls at every odd. Rima Das’s VILLAGE ROCKSTARS is not just a story of dreams, it’s a story of life, it’s a story of belief, its’ also story of relationships and it can be a story of you, me or someone we knew, its human, its real. Take a bow Rima Das.