Congratulations to “Village Rockstars”! – India’s entry to Oscars 2019
Village Rockstars by Rima Das, based on life in a village in Assam
It is India’s official film entry to Oscars 2019, having won best feature film of the year at National Awards. Also featured at more than 50 International film festivals worldwide, including Cannes Film Festival 2017.
The 87 minutes long movie has been made on a shoestring budget and shot on a hand-held camera. The coming-of-age story is about a young teenage girl who forms a rock band in her village. It’s about converting dreams to reality in a place with very few possibilities.
Watch the trailer of Village Rockstars from Toronto International Film Festival:
LocalFeedback.Org has laid strong emphasis on Villages right from its inception. It is evident in our reviews of villages from more than 5 states in India, and one from abroad (Egypt). Essays of The Home Connect Contest 2018 also featured experiences from villages in West Bengal (3rd overall and Winner – Social Media category), Jharkhand and Arunachal Pradesh.
Village Rockstars’ entry to the Oscars 2019 gives special spotlight on the plight of villages in Assam, which is ravaged by floods almost every year. Here children hold on to their dreams despite the odds.
“The children were growing up in poverty — but they still knew how to celebrate life” – Rima Das on seeing a group of children perform with a guitar cutout at a Bihu function in the village. This was the inspiration behind the movie.
The lead actor, Bhanita Das, had also won the National Award for the best child artist. Rima Das, the director, writer and co-producer of Village Rockstars, is a self-taught filmmaker and actor.
“In Chaygaon, where she grew up, films were something to be watched, not made and definitely not learnt.”
This is how most media reports define the location where the film was based. Kalardiya Village is situated near Chaygaon in Kamrup district of Assam. The district is known for Kamakhya Temple.
Village Rockstars: The Village where the movie was shot
We’re LocalFeedback.Org, so we will talk about few basic details of the village as well! 🙂
Kalardiya is a small village of just 30 houses in Chaygaon. The word Chaygaon (“Chhay” + Gaon) literally translates to “6 villages”. Worth noting, that it should not be confused with “Chai”, since Assam is famous for its tea.
Located on the southern bank of Brahmaputra river, Chaygaon is 36 km far from Guwahati, the capital of Assam. Major places of importance are “Mer Ghar” – the home of merchant Chanda Saudagar to which a mythological story is attached; and ‘Maa Chandika Develaya’ Temple dedicated to Goddess Durga. It is connected by National Highway 37 and nearest railway station is at Dhobargaon. Chaygaon, technically a town, also has a college.
Village Rockstars: The Plot
The movie dwells upon the life of 10 yrs old Dhunu, who lives in Chaygaon with her widowed mother. Her father died in floods, as there was no embankment in the village at that time. She sells snacks with her mother at a local event, and is fascinated to see a band performing there. The boys were singing with ‘guitars’ made out of styrofoam, and Dhunu goes on to copy them.
In the backdrop, floods in Assam destroy crops in villages, while Dhunu is trying to save every penny to get a real guitar. Her priorities get shaken, but Dhunu persists due to her tenacity and determination.
The movie conveys the simple yet powerful message that it is possible to achieve our dreams even in hostile circumstances. In fact, Rima Das’ life-story is similar – she never went to school, but came to Mumbai in 2003 and taught herself to make films through videos on the internet! A remarkable feat for someone who deserves much praise.
Village Rockstars: Awards and Accolades
The film has won National Awards for sound recording and editing, in addition to best child artists and best feature film. Here are few among many other honors won by Village Rockstars:
- Jio Mumbai Film Festival – Golgen Gateway Award for Best Film in India
- 3rd BRICS Film Festival – Grand Jury award and Best actress award
- 7th Assam State Film Award and Festival – Best debut actor, cinematography, sound and direction
- Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles – Best feature film
Village Rockstars: Congratulations, way to go ahead!
28 other films including Raazi, Hichki, October, Manto and Bioscopewala were nominated. Village Rockstars emerged as the choice of the Jury.
Lebanon, Indonesia and Norway are other countries who have selected films for their Oscar nominations. In the past, only 3 movies from India made it to the final round in the Foreign Language category, but did not win. We hope that Village Rockstars would break this trend!
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