Rima Das: Young Assamese filmmaker

Rima Das (inset) and a scene from the film Village Rockstars

Rima Das is a self-taught film producer and director. She is a native of Assam and shuttles between her home state and Mumbai. She not only writes and directs features and documentaries but also runs a film-production company named Flying River Films that she uses to support local independent filmmakers. Her films have travelled to multiple film-festivals and have bagged numerous awards in renowned film circles.

Her debut film, Village Rockstars, which bagged a National Award from the President of India this year, has shot the young, self-taught Assamese filmmaker into prominence.

Rima was fascinated by Bollywood films while doing her Masters in Sociology at Pune University. After a brief stint in acting projects Rima embarked on the path of making her first Assamese film Antardrishti (Man with the Binoculars, 2016). The film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival the same year and also the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival and Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.

Recently, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting organized the screening of National Award winning films for the public and Rima Das’ debut film Village Rockstars was also screened in Siri-Fort Auditorium, New Delhi. The festival was organized in collaboration with the Directorate of Film Festival (DIFF).

What is Village Rockstars about?
My film is set in a tiny village in Assam. 10-year-old Dhunu dreams of setting up her own rock band. A self-assured girl, Dhunu’s vibrant spirit and imagination sets her apart in a world where girls are often expected to be shy and submissive. With the support from her widowed mother, Dhunu joins hands with a group of boys to face the daily struggles of life and realize her dreams.

How did you select your film’s cast and crew?
I never select professional actors and had a small but dedicated crew. Ratnajit Roy has done cinematography; he understood my script very well to reach my vision. Suresh Pai, Amrit Pritaman and Anurag Saikia are all experts in their own fields. Sid Meer is an outstanding actor who has acted in Bollywood films.

Tell us about Village Rockstars shoot.
Village Rockstars is my second film. Three years back, while shooting for my first film in my old village Kalahari, I met many kids and began shooting this film. I had completed shooting entirely on my own from camera to direction and production. My cousin Mallika Das and the children who acted in the film helped me throughout.

How did you shortlist the kids for the film?
I was impressed by those small kids as they showed love for acting, craft of cinema and they know the perfect frame of the film, lighting and mood. These little stars take notes for the next day shooting. It almost changed my life.

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Santosh Mehta
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Santosh Mehta

Santosh Mehta has over 20 years experience as a journalist and art critic. An executive member of the Indian Women’s Press Corps, she has written for leading publications such as Deccan Herald, The Tribune, The Statesman, The Asian Age (New Delhi) and Press Trust of India (PTI) among others. She has directed and scripted a TV programme for NRIs and has written scripts for AIR and Doordarshan.