GUWAHATI: It was almost a fairy-tale. Rima Das has almost done wonders and achieved what many would envy. Rima’s Village Rockstars have been able to win the hearts of critics and common viewers across the globe.

Village Rockstars, a film directed, produced, edited and cinematographed by Rima Das who never had a formal training in film-making has recently won ‘Golden Lotus’ in the national film awards which is happening for the first time in three decades for any Assamese films.

It was a humble beginning for Rima way back in 2014 in a remote village in Assam’s Kamrup district on the bank of river Brahmaputra. And that very beginning resulted ‘Village Rockstars’ which brought her, the Best Film award and three other awards in different categories.

‘Village Rockstars’ which tells the story of a 10 year old girl and her dream of owning a guitar and forming a band, the Rockstars, with a group of local boys, has also won awards in three other categories.

“I’m speechless. I’ve no words to express my joy. It’s a huge recognition for us! My sincere gratitude to the national awards team for this honour, to my parents and my family who stood with me all this time and the almighty for giving me strength to make Village Rickstars! It brings immense joy that a film from Assam made it to this level after three decades! I’m elated, ecstatic and extremely happy,” said Rima.

Following this, Village Rockstars also won the Grand Jury Prize for best feature at the 16th annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) in the USA.

In 1988, Jahnu Barua’s ‘Halodhia Choraye Baodhan Khai’ (The Catastrophe) had won the award.

Besides the best film, Rima Das won best editing award, Bhanita Das, the protagonist, won the best child actor award and Mallika Das won the best audiography award.

“It’s a huge honour. I never expected this to happen to a small film like us,” she added.

‘Village Rockstars’ which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) 2017, narrates the struggle which Dunu has to undergo while trying to achieve her goal under gender stereotypes on what a girl should do amid poverty and other hostile conditions.

Besides, in MAMI 19th Mumbai International festival in 2017 ‘Village Rockstars’ bagged the Golden Gateway award along with Oxfam Best Film for gender quality award and Young Critics Choice award.

The film has entirely been shot by Rima Das herself along with village kids over three years of time in Chhaygaon in Kamrup district. It is her second film after ‘Antardrishti’ (Man with the Binoculars’ in 2016.

“Village Rockstars is my second film. Three years back, while shooting for my first film ‘Man With the Binoculars’ which I shot in my old village Kalardiya (remote in Kamrup district), I came in regular touch with these village kids and decided to tell their story. It is a very personal film and close to my heart. It almost changed my life,” narrated the self-taught filmmaker.

As Rima didn’t have the budget, she started to shoot by herself and have completed all the aspects single-handedly.

“Intermittently, I began shooting this, alongside my first film. Since there was no fund I completed shooting entirely on my own from camera, to direction and production. My cousin Mallika (won best audiography award) and the children acted in the film helped me throughout. Over the three years of shooting, ‘the kids’ became my own,” she added.

Earlier, the film has travelled to almost 20 countries for various festivals and has won some of the major awards. Film scholars and critics have opined that Rima has created a new chapter in the genre of Indian as well as Assamese cinema, by transcending the usual barriers.

"Winning the most coveted award - the best film by Rima Das's ‘Village Rockstars’ is itself suggestive of the true enactment of woman's power. Rima has proved herself by showing to the world how women can persevere and can create their own paths in the face of various antagonistic forces, existing in the professional and the public domain, where a woman is offered only a marginal status,” film scholar and researcher Parthajit Baruah who is currently undergoing a special course University of Edinburgh, told The Citizen.

Baruah who has authored the biography of the master filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan ‘Face to Face – The Cinemas of Adoor Gopalakrishnan’ further said that Dhunu, the protagonist in the film, epitomizes the struggling spirit of a little girl, who wants to win, to fulfill her dreams in spite of all odds.

“She (Dhunu) stands for the potential of the younger generation of women or the future possibility. The self assertion represented by the little girl Dhunu in the film stands as a textual or artistic parallel to Rima's determination, her making of the film and the current appraisal of the film worldwide,” added Baruah.

Jaicheng Jai Dohutia, another young filmmaker from Assam who won national award for his Moran language film ‘Handook’ (The Hidden Corner) in 2017 said that Rima Das has set a new mark not just for Assamese cinema but cinema as a whole.

“Rima has established herself to prove that cinema is an art in the line of poetry or painting. She has proved it as an independent creativity. Though we all believe in that but she proved it. Though it’s prevailing in some other countries but in India this is something rare,” Dohutia said. – ends