Verdict: Dhunu’s world is captivating.

Ever since this independent film first premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival it has been winning awards and accolades all over the world. Written, directed, and produced by Rima Das, Village Rockstars is an Assamese feature film that bagged the National Award for best film and has now earned its spot as India’s official entry for the 2019 Oscars.

What’s Village Rockstars About:

This film follows the life of a little girl with wide-eyed optimism and an undying urge to learn. Her name is Dhunu (Bhanita Das) and she is from a remote Assamese village. After witnessing a concert in a village fair, she develops a desire to start her own band and own a real guitar. But that is easier said than done. Given that she lives in a remote village with its own traditional mindset and culture, she must face her own storms both literal and metaphorical. With a supportive mother (Basanti Das) that only want the best for her children, she lives a spirited life despite the challenges in her way. Dhunu’s coming-of-age tale gives us a glimpse of life in small-town Assam.

What Works:

Bhanita Das and Basanti Das both give us a truly raw and honest performance. So much so that they’re utterly convincing, making us wonder if they even know that they’re being filmed. Rima Das does a brilliant job of breaking the shackles of traditional filmmaking and storytelling by taking us on Dhunu’s journey through a candid fly-on-the-wall narrative. She doesn’t choose to confine the story inside one particular plot, instead she indulges in a spontaneous rhythm. And in spite of its free-flowing nature, every single thing that appears on screen comes together to create this tangible universe that pulls you into Dhunu’s life in Assam, much like a warm embrace. Village Rockstars is its own kind of cinema, with a narrative that goes beyond its setting and characters to create a unique picture.

What Could’ve Been Better:

This film not your run-of-the-mill entertaining cinema. It doesn’t flow in a steady momentum towards a set climax. It slowly explores its world instead of narrating a pre-decided plot, which might seem a little tedious at times.

Why You Should Watch It:

Rima Das colors entirely outside the lines with this breakaway film. If you’re looking to be simply transported through cinema without any further expectations, this one’s a must-watch.