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Rima Das on Village Rockstars' Selection as India's Entry to Oscars 2019: Was Kind of Expecting It

Made on a shoe-string budget, Village Rockstars is the first-ever Assamese language film which has been selected as India’s official submission to the Academy Awards.

Shrishti Negi | News18.com@shrishti_03

Updated:September 22, 2018, 2:47 PM IST
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Rima Das on Village Rockstars' Selection as India's Entry to Oscars 2019: Was Kind of Expecting It
Made on a shoe-string budget, Village Rockstars is the first-ever Assamese language film which has been selected as India’s official submission to the Academy Awards.
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Director Rima Das’ Assamese film Village Rockstars is India’s official entry to the Oscars 2019 in the Best Foreign Language Film category. It was also awarded the Best Film honour at the 65th National Film Awards.

The film, featuring Bhanita Das, Basanti Das, Kulada Bhattyacharya, Manabendra Das and Boloram Das, is a warm-hearted coming-of-age story of a 10-year-old Dhunu who lives with her widowed mother and older brother in a remote village of Assam. Unlike other girls, she prefers to hang out with boys, loves bicycling and climbing trees. One day, she decides to buy a guitar, so that she can form a band, the Rockstars, with a group of local boys.

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A still from Village Rockstars

Made on a shoe-string budget, Village Rockstars is the first-ever Assamese language film which has been selected as India’s official submission to the Academy Awards.

Expressing her excitement over the same, Das tells News18.com, “I’m so happy. I was kind of expecting it. All my friends kept saying that your film would definitely be going because it travelled to many film festivals across the world last year and there was no such film which travelled so much and won these many awards. So, I was a little hopeful but I was actually waiting for this day. And, it’s the first film from the North east that has got selected as the India’s official entry. So, it’s a big news for us. It’s a huge recognition.”

Village Rockstars first drew attention after it screened at the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum in 2017, where it won the White Light Post Production Award and the Hong Kong Goes to Cannes honour, and became one of the four films selected to feature at the Cannes film market. Subsequently, the film had its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival.

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Child actor Bhanita Das in a still from Village Rockstars

Das shot the entire film herself despite no professional training or camera crew. Alongside being the producer and director of Village Rockstars, she is also the writer, editor, cinematographer and art director of the film.

“I have made this film with a lot of difficulty. I was the solo producer of this film. But it’s been a great journey as so many people recognised my efforts. Interestingly, I was in Toronto only. My third film Bulbul Can Sing had its world premiere at TIFF. I arrived in Assam last night and I’m feeling so fortunate that I’m able to celebrate it with my family and my own people,” she adds.

Das, however, says she will now have to take a practical approach in order to reach a wider audience.

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Director Rima Das during the shoot of Village Rockstars in Assam

When asked if this accomplishment would help her get more financers for her projects, she says, “I have no idea. But I know that I’ll have to be more practical because I have been hearing from my friends that you need to campaign and promote it properly and source financial back up. But honestly, I have no idea because I have not experienced it before. I’m just hopeful. I’m expecting support from the Assam government."
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