Village Rockstars: India’s gutsy entry to the Oscars

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

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Village Rockstars: India’s gutsy entry to the Oscars

Jayanta Kumar Sarma | September 29, 2018 17:17 hrs


Everybody has a story to tell. But very few can manage the language to tell the story eloquently. Village Rockstars is an attempt to tell a story – may be of the writer herself – through the language of cinema. The essential function of cinema is storytelling and Rima Das has efficiently handled the medium to tell her story.

 

 

Village Rockstars has efficiently told the story of a village girl growing amid her natural surroundings and all its elements – a river, an embankment, a dusty village road, shallow swampy fields, animals and a single mother. We see in Dhunu’s eyes her simple earthly desires for a guitar blossoming as her mother struggles to make two ends meet. Life always leaves us with some desires that are not to be fulfilled. Dhunu’s mother understands this, but grittily proves what a mother can do for her daughter when Dhunu gets the guitar which she had stopped hoping for. Viewers will find it immensely easy to identify themselves with the characters in the movie and the movie itself will leave one with nostalgia about one’s own growing up.   

 

The story itself does not bear any novelty as such. It’s a coming-of-age story of a girl – Dhunu, and we have seen a lot of films on the theme worldwide; from Cinema Paradiso (1988) to Only Living Boy in New York (2018). Yes, of course those were stories of a different people, in a different country and at a different time. Village Rockstars is our own – set in our backyard, in contemporary time and interspersed with familiar issues and metaphors (like flood, for instance). 

 

Rima Das’s handling of the camera is brilliant, editing is crisp and the story is poetic. She has been very economical with dialogue and left the moving pictures speak for themselves and Dhunu’s eyes and face did the speaking mostly. The amateur actors in their natural surroundings delivered the best a director can hope for. The sound left much to be desired as without the subtitles the dialogues appear to be mumbles at best. 

 

‘Munu’ the goat had played her role to the hilt and Das had subtly used the animal to tell us that choosing between two desires depends on priority. The intimate connection between the goat and Dhunu being established early in the story, there was hardly any need of dialogue to convey the choice Dhunu made when Dhunu’s mother offered to buy her dream guitar by selling the goat. Yet, when Dhunu’s family was being rescued from flood, Munu was nowhere to be seen. This is an omission in the narrative worth pondering over considering that Village Rockstars is our official nomination for Oscars.

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