Rana Pratap Saikia
From the hallowed halls of the Toronto International Film Festival to the hearts and minds of cinema literati of Assam and elsewhere, Village Rockstars has come a long way. Along with the faint whiff of freshness brought on by an early onset of autumn, Village Rockstars has brought the warmth of Uruka to those who have been fortunate enough to see it. What makes it all the more impressive is its helming, from production to release, by Rima Das, the mind behind the marvel.
What it lacks in having a great plot, it makes up through gritty and real storytelling. In the following passages, I shall try to examine the movie and explain how and why it is such a masterpiece. At its very core, ‘Village Rockstars’ is a tale sprung from the bowels of Mother Nature. It is testimony to Her role as both a destroyer as well as a preserver. The few instances when the sun shines bright are seen as a reprieve by the ailing villagers and some of the lighter moments in the film are reserved for sunny days.
Exploration of Fate is one of the core motifs in film. The inevitability of the destruction of the crops as well as secretly yearning for a less cruel fate by the mother, who has reconciled to her role of toil and hardwork, is one of the most touching aspects of the film. Fate, on the other hand, is interwoven with nature as the two hallmark entities of Assamese rural life.
Rural life in India is characterized by its harshness of climate and dearth of food and nutrition and the children in the saga try their best to find meaning in life by longing for a future that would see them become stars on the screen and their creative pursuits are limited to make-pretend scenarios while they try to absorb the aura of actual rock stars through simple song and dance rituals in village courtyards and lush green paddy fields.
What the movie portrays so beautifully is the simplicity and honesty of Assam – the harshness of its weather topped with the honeydew drops of moments, innocent yearnings and memories.The rural countryside depicts a stark contrast to the hustle of the modern world, and the tale is nestled in an imaginary landscape, away from concerns and materialism of contemporary society. It depicts the coming-of-age and maturing of the innocent girl Dhunu, who must first tackle challenges of being comfortable in her own skin, before she can face challenges of a musical nature.
It further depicts the transition from a state of innocence to one of experience for the children of the village and how dealing with the travesty of losing their crops acclimatizes them to the harshness of reality. But despite the odds, the bravery of the village folk in assiduously working and dreaming for a better future has to be commended.