Writer-producer-director Rima Das’ Assamese language passion project is India’s official entry to the Oscars 2019 in the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category and rightly so. Her courageous tale of hope, dreams, desire and the unflinching human resilience captivates your imagination despite its unhurried pace. It’s a moving ode to her lush green home state and its beautiful people.
Those who prefer stories to unfold with a sense of urgency may find their patience tested here though. Das’s narrative takes its own time to establish the characters and the minutiae of their everyday life. Through gorgeous cinematography and audiography that masterfully captures the sights and sounds of Assam, Das transports you to Dhunu’s world of dreams and duties. A world which reminds you of your privilege. A world, where a mother bravely tells her daughter what inspires her to keep going despite their misfortune. “Hard work is the only thing we have,” she says.
While the film demonstrates the dilemmas of poverty, the tone and theme of the film is anything but tragic. Deep down, it’s a heartening tale of courage and our pursuit of happiness.
Other than its visual and emotional excellence, what stands out the most is Das’ powerful writing that showcases gender equality and strong female characters. Dhunu’s inspirational single mother raises her daughter just like her son. She stands by Dhunu and fights the society, who coerces her daughter to ‘behave like a girl’. The women don’t hesitate to undergo the social, physical and psychological hardships that men are expected to endure to put food on the table.
Village Rockstars is heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure. A young girl and her mother’s woes and misery is not music to the ears but their spirit, is. Take a bow, Rima Das.