10-year-old girl Dhunu dreams of owning a guitar and forming a band – The Rockstars, with a group of local boys. She considers herself at par with the boys and mostly roams around them. But the journey is not easy for Dhunu as she has to fight gender discrimination and poverty.
Three years back, while shooting for her first film – ‘Man With The Binoculars’, Rima Das came into regular contact with a bunch of kids in her old village Kalardiya in Chhaygaon. She was quite moved, at the same time inspired by the these kids, their indomitable spirit, and resilience, even in the face of overwhelming obstacles. It drove her to explore the possibilities of making a full-length film, on the everyday experiences of these kids, while injecting a couple of incidents from her own rural upbringing.
The incredible story of these kids is on the verge of being shared with audiences at home and around the world. Its heartening to know that Rima’s second feature film ‘Man With The Binoculars’ is one of the four films selected to feature in no less than the prestigious Cannes Film Festival scheduled to be held from May 17 to 28 this year, where it will be shown in the Marché Du Film section. The film was also among the finalists in the ‘Work in Progress Lab’ competition in Hong Kong, and was earlier recommended by NFDC Film bazar and selected in the Tallinn Work in Progress.
“The film is a tribute to the place and people from where I have come from. Its based in Kalardiya village near Chhaygaon and my father too belongs to this place.” ‘Village Rockers’ was filmed intermittently alongside her debut project – ‘Man with the Binoculars’. Her debut movie was screened at the Cannes and Mumbai Film Festival last year.
It was during the last leg of shooting her first film in 2013, when she came across children, some really smart kids in her village who showed an inherent talent for acting. They were even keen to learn about filmmaking and lighting. “I picked up from there and started shooting my second film,” said Rima who was quite mesmerised by their talent.
The sheer contentment and positivity among the villagers even in the most hardest of situations, bowled her over. “The film is about their hope, joy, vision and happiness irrespective of living a difficult life. The village people are the true rockstars as they know how to enjoy life inspite of not being able to enjoy materialistic items”, she added.
The shooting of ‘Village Rockers’ took place even in the midst of unrelenting downpours, and Rima used mostly natural lighting due to the lack of a lighting crew, completing the entire shooting on her own, right from operating the camera, to directing and looking after the production – in short, she was involved in every aspect of the film. Her cousin Mallika and the children provided helping hands throughout. The film was shot for around 120 days in the course of three years. “During the three years of filming, the kids became my own. The children longed to see me as I shunted between Mumbai and my village in Chhaygaon”, said Rima, who will soon visit Rome to work on the film’s editing part, to be handled by a well-known French editor.
The cast of artistes in ‘Village Rockers’ include Bhanita Das, Basanti Das, Rinku Das, Bolo Das, Manabendra Das, Bishnu Kalita, Bhaskar Das, etc.