Village Rockstars. 2017. India. Directed by Rima Das. 87 min.
“Dhunu wants a rock band. It’s an admirable goal for a young girl, but out of reach when you live in a remote village in northeast India. And when your mother is a widow struggling to put food on the table, dreams of electric guitars can seem like madness. Yet a guitar is exactly what drives Dhunu’s ambition. At 10 years old she is alive with a passion for music and a dazzling confidence in her own convictions. Rima Das’s second feature paints an inspiring portrait of a young girl finding her place in a world made for boys and men. Das grew up in the same village where she shot Village Rockstars, and recruited a local, non-professional cast. This may also have seemed daring, but the result is magic. The performances are natural and fresh. The marshlands and village textures are palpable in Das’s intimate, widescreen camerawork. When the rains come, they drench Dhunu and her playmates in scenes that could never be staged.
It’s an idyllic world, although Dhunu still has to navigate the mysterious ways of adults and boys. The same boys who want to join her in rock star glory tease and mistreat her because she’s a girl. Her mother is a strong figure in her life, but seems to have little patience for her daughter’s extravagant dreams. It’s only when Dhunu sits at the feet of a village elder as he describes how to unlock the power of thought that she begins to glimpse how she might achieve her boundless musical vision” (2017 Toronto Film Festival program notes).