Village Rockstars gently moves through the floods in a subtle and gentle manner, inching towards a coming-of-age drama. Practically and metaphorically, water stands as purity and fertility which affects the narrative in a gentle manner – whether in form of flood or puberty. Dhunu’s aspirations are in literal sense flooded by the natural course. Rima Das channelizes her narrative into feminism shoes without any explicit statement while endearing characters play within – a lazy brother who doesn’t hesitate to wash utensils and a multi-talented hardworking sister.
Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s S Durga which opened the India Gold at 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival strongly centralises sexuality while Rima Das’ optimistic film Village Rockstars makes a gentle approach about it. This is an unsentimental story set in rural Assam which might gaze (third world) poverty porn through enchanting visuals. Village Rockstars revolves around Dhunu, a Fatherless girl living with her Mother and elder Brother who is fascinated by a local band performance who then aspires to buy a guitar.
Cinematographer Rima Das (again) captures the scenic rural (unexplored) Assam, simultaneously framing transparency of the character psyche. For instance, amidst the rituals of Dhunu’s first menstruation, the colourful ceremony is shadowed with a close up of her aberrant face. What dominantly works here is the simple storytelling and satisfying visual appetite – literally felt the need to leave and explore Assam. Bhanita Das, who plays Dhunu delivers a phenomenal transformation inching towards adulthood; what an energetic child.
Village Rockstars is effectively vibrant as well as moving film which takes the natural course flooded by simplicity. It’s so heartening to witness an Assamese film having a phenomenal run at International Film Festivals around the world – might even term it as the new-age Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali (1955).
Originally published on 13 October, 2017 for Young Critics Lab, 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival. Copyright ©2017 Ninad Kulkarni. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.