Director Rima Das’ Village Rockstars which is the only Indian film to be selected for the competition category, Discovery at theToronto International Film Festival 2017 had its Indian Premiere at the 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival recently. The film has been selected in the competitive India Gold section at the festival.

Village Rockstars is also nominated for Oxfam Best Film on Gender Equality Award at the 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.

Village Rockstars is the story of Dhunu, a girl who grows up in poverty and learns to fend for herself. However, that does not prevent her from following her dream of forming a rock band and owning a guitar someday.The premiere was attended by Rima Das and the kids who have acted in the film including Das’ niece Bhanita Das who plays Dhunu. Most of the cast members of the film are non actors including Bhanita and the other kids who hail from Rima Das’ native village in Assam.

This is the first premiere that the cast of the film has ever attended. It is also the first time that they had travelled out of their hometown. And it was a dream come true for them as they watched themselves on screen including Dhunu who also admitted that she wants to becomeanactress.

Village Rockstars has also been nominated for Oxfam Best Film on Gender Equality Award 2017 at the 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.

The film was an official selection at Film Bazaar Recommends (at NFDC Film Bazaar 2016), 2017 Marche du Film (Cannes) WorkIn-Progress, San Sebastian International Film Festival 2017 and 2oth International Children’s Film Festival. It is also the closing film at the 2017 Dharamshala International Film Festival. The director-cinematographer-editor-producer Rima Das was pleased with the response to the Indian premiere and said “When I went to my village to shoot my first film Man With The Binoculars, I stayed there for a long time. That’s when I met these children who taught me to unlearn. In the course of the three and a half years while we were shooting the film, these kids became my crew and support system. They believed in me and the film and that’s why we are here.

Also present at the premiere was Pan Nalin, director of the acclaimed film and TIFF 2015 People’s Choice Award winner Angry Indian Goddesses.

Talking about Village Rockstars, Pan Nalin said “It is one of the best films I have seen. Directors these days mostly want to make a slick and visually perfect product. So to see something which is so pure and done with such simplicity and beauty is great. It is amazing how Rima was able to write, edit, shoot and direct the film by herself and yet give it such a seamless look. And to get such natural performances from non actors is a remarkable feat.” Dhunu a 10 years old girl lives in a remote village in Assam, India amidst raging deprivation. She is a free spirit and her mother, a widower, who struggles daily to bring food to the table and raise her children. However, that does not prevent her from having unrealistic dreams like owning a guitar for her tiny band of village Rockstars boys. Dhunu is a girl who considers herself as capable as boys her age. She and the gangs of boys want to form a rock band. But later the boys slowly stop perusing their dream, whereas Dhunu continues dreaming to own a guitar. Her faith becomes strong when she reads about the law of attraction in a newspaper article. Her unconventional and nonconformist mother raises her with steadfast determination, giving her full freedom of expression and encouraging her to fulfill her dreams. After her father’s death, her mother taking all the responsibilities realizes that it is important that a girl should be qualified herself.

But beyond the poverty of her living, attacks nature’s fury as her village is flooded and worse than that: the societal restrictions that assail her from the day she reaches puberty. Can Dhunu achieve her simple dream or will she, like hundreds of millions of girls in her situation across the world, have to give up on it!

I congratulate Rima on the grand success of “Village Rockstar” and wish her a great success in her future endeavours.

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