In a breakthrough moment for Assamese cinema, Rima Das’ directorial Village Rockstars was named the Best Feature Film at the 65th National Film Awards in New Delhi on Friday. It is after 29 years that an Assamese film has won the honour.
Jahnu Barua‘s Halodhia Choraye Baodhan Khai had won the award last in 1987.
Set in Rima’s own village Chhaygaon near Guwahati, Village Rockstars is the story of “poor but amazing children” who live a fun-filled life.
The film opens with the children having fun as a rock band. As the story progresses, it captures the whole gamut of fun that these rural children are having despite living a life of poverty and deprivation.
Rima has also won the Best Editing honour for Village Rockstars, which has won the Best Child Artist honour for Bhanita Das. It has also been recognised for Best Location Sound Recordist Mallika Das’ work.
The Best Assamese Film award went to Utpal Borpujari for Ishu. Borpujari is ecstatic about the win. “I am very happy to win this award as ‘Ishu’ is my debut feature film. I am happy for my cast and crew who supported me throughout,” he told reporters.
He is also emotional about the victory of Village Rockstars. “I am more happy about Village Rockstars because after 29 years, an Assamese film has won the Best Feature Film Award.
“What is more special about Village Rockstars is that it is a totally independent film which Rima Das made with her own resources with a very small crew. For such a film to win the National Award is a big achievement. This film has been widely acclaimed in international film circles,” Borpujari said.
Village Rockstars, which had a European premiere at the San Sebastian International Film Festival, was screened under the India Gold section of the Mumbai Film Festival and was the closing film of the Dharamshala International Film Festival.
The movie also premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September last year. Village Rockstars will also be screened in New York.
Village Rockstars is the story of a 10-year-old girl who yearns for an electric guitar to the screen. The movie has been written, directed, produced, shot and designed by Rima.
Starring Bhanita Das, Basanti Das, Kulada Bhattyacharya, Manabendra Das and Boloram Das, Village Rockstars is woven around Dhunu’s pursuit of an electric guitar in Assam’s Chhayagaon village. The film challenges gender stereotypes in an organic way.