Village Rockstars

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Village Rockstars
Poster of Village Rockstars.jpg
Official poster
Directed byRima Das
Written byRima Das
Produced byRima Das
Jaya Das
StarringBhanita Das
Manabendra Das
CinematographyRima Das
Edited byRima Das
Distributed byFlying River Films
Release dates
  • 9 September 2017 (2017-09-09) (TIFF)
  • 28 September 2018 (2018-09-28)
Running time
87 minutes

Village Rockstars is a 2017 Indian Assamese language coming-of-age drama film written, edited, co-produced and directed by Rima Das, who is a self-taught filmmaker.[1] The story follows a 10-year-old girl who befriends a group of boys and dreams of becoming a rock star.

The film premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). More significantly, it received the Best Feature Film ‘Swarna Kamal’ award at the 65th National Film Awards, which were declared in New Delhi on 13 April 2018.[2] Village Rockstars also won awards in three other categories: Best Child Artist, Best Location Sound Recordist and Best Editing.[3] It was selected as India's official entry to the 91st Academy Awards, but it was not nominated for top nine films from a total of 87.[4]

Plot summary[edit]

Dhunu is the protagonist amidst a group of real village rock stars. Growing up in hardship, she cherished aspiration of having her own rock band. Her life although engulfed by hostile natural calamities doesn't bar her from dreaming of owning a real guitar.

Ten-year-old Dhunu (Bhanita Das) lives in Kalardiya village near Chaygaon in Assam, India with her widowed mother (Basanti Das) and elder brother Manabendra (Manabendra Das). While helping her mother sell snacks at a local event, she becomes mesmerized by a band that's performing there. The part that's so delightfully hokey: the boys belt out their hits with musical instruments made of styrofoam. She proceeds to copy them, carving a guitar.

Impressionable and tenacious at the same time, Dhunu reads a comic book and decides she wants to form a band playing real instruments. Rupee by rupee, she begins to save for the guitar. She reads an article in a scrap newspaper and decides that positive thinking can make the possession of the guitar materialize. But as floods destroy the family's crops, Dhunu must choose her priorities.


  • Bhanita Das as Dhunu
  • Basanti Das as Dhunu's mother
  • Manabendra Das as Dhunu's elder brother
  • Boloram Das
  • Rinku Dast
  • Bishnu Kalita


The film was entirely shot in Das's home village of Kalardiya in Lower Assam, where her family played much of the cast, including her cousin Bhanita Das as the lead role of Dhunu. The film took nearly four years to make. The initial idea for the film was inspired by an event during the post-production of Rima Das's first film, Antardrishti (Man with the Binoculars), when she came across a group of village children playing imaginary instruments to a song on the radio.[5] Rima Das served as the director, producer, writer, editor and cinematographer for Village Rockstars (with assistance from her cousin, Mallika Das), making the film using a Canon 5D camera and one lens. She bought this camera by selling gold jewelry and raising a loan.[6] Speaking on the no-budget nature of the production of the film, Rima Das said, "I shot this film without any crew and cast of the film wasn't trained in acting, so the process to make this film was hard and challenging, but I think it is possible if you have belief in yourself."[7]

Critical reception[edit]

Director Rima Das (third from right) with cast and crew of the film at 48th International Film Festival of India, in Panaji, Goa on 21 November 2017

Village Rockstars won the Film Critics Circle of India Award for the Best Indian Film of 2017.[8] Jury member Dalton L declared it "a milestone film of sorts", adding, "Village Rockstars epitomises the trials and tribulations, and heralds the coming of age, of a filmmaker, of her protagonist, and of the indie film movement in India". Jury member Priyanka Dasgupta said, "Rima Das’ film is a lyrical montage of life and times in contemporary rural India. It subtly draws attention to complex gender issues – sometimes even subverting the conventional gender norms – without ever getting preachy. Bhanita Das – the pint-sized fiery ball of lovable energy – is endearingly natural. But just when one fears that the film might become schmaltzy, the film-maker takes control. The lens speaks volumes, sometimes conveying more than the dialogues. Such a work by a first-time director holds a lot of promise for Indian cinema". Jury member Premchand called it "a women’s journey into the heart of the matter." Saibal Chatterjee, a founder member of the Society, gave the film a five-star rating, and says in his review, "A masterwork is usually the result of strict adherence to artistic and functional rules. Village Rockstars respects none: it dons a raw, innocent cloak and exudes a degree of purity that deliberate craft can never bestow on a film... The film stands for something that is always under threat: the courage to ignore the reality that life is exceedingly difficult for cinema that is made on the margins of a giant production machinery and recognize that there always are ways out for those who revel in battling the odds, no matter how daunting, and overcoming them."[9]

Maggie Lee says in her review for Variety, "By focusing on tween characters, the picture evokes that freewheeling stage when gender roles are still blurry in the friendships between boys and girls. Then as suddenly as a monsoon, Dhunu’s first period arrives. The rituals held to initiate her into womanhood — making her wear a sari, segregating her from the boys — are seen as attempts to enforce her otherness."[10] Deborah Young in The Hollywood Reporter says, "Village Rockstars’ storytelling is so offhand it borders on documentary. The action follows natural rhythms, the seasons, biology."[11] Hannah Lynn of Pittsburgh City Paper compared the film to The Florida Project in that it is "aimless without being pointless"[12] while Barry Hertz of The Globe and Mail called it "confident and sincere", giving it 3.5 out of 4 stars.[13] Radheyan Simonpillai of NOW gave the film 4 stars and lamented the fact that the film wasn't nominated at the academy awards, writing that he'd take the "stunning, poetic film [...] over Roma (or Cold War, or Capernaum or Never Look Away) any day."[14]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 93% based on 15 reviews, with an average rating of 7.97/10.[15]

Home Media[edit]

It is also available on Netflix (starting 20 January 2020)[16] and Amazon Prime.


Award Date of ceremony[a] Category Recipients Result Ref.
Academy Award for Best International Feature Film February 24, 2019 Best Foreign Language Film India's official entry Not nominated [17][18]
National Film Awards April 13, 2018 Best Feature Film Rima Das Won [19]
Best Child Artist Bhanita Das Won
Best Location Sound Recordist Mallika Das Won
Best Editing Rima Das Won
Jio MAMI Film Festival 2017 October 18, 2018 Golden Gateway award for best film in India Gold category Village Rockstars Won [20]
Oxfam Best Film for Gender Equality award Village Rockstars Won
Young Critics Choice award Village Rockstars Won
Cork Film Festival November 11, 2017 Gradam Spiorad Na Féile / Spirit of the Festival Award Village Rockstars Won [21]
Cairo International Film Festival November 21, 2017 Best Artistic Contribution from the International Critic's Week competition Village Rockstars Won [22]
Olympia International Film Festival for Children & Young people 26 November 2017 Best Actress Bhanita Das Won [23]
Best Director Rima Das Won [23]
Special Jury prize Village Rockstars Won [23]
Smile International Film Festival for Children & Youth 17 December 2017 Best Children's Film Village Rockstars Won [24]
Best Actor Bhanita Das Won [24]
Cine Junior Film Festival, France 2018 1 January 2018 Grand Prix (Best Film) Village Rockstars Won [25]
Muestra de Cine Lanzarote 2017, Spain 18 May 2017 Best Young Film Village Rockstars Won [26]
Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles 15 April 2018 Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature Village Rockstars Won [27]
Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente, Argentina 2018 22 April 2018 SIGNIS Prize Village Rockstars Won [28]
Prag Cine Awards 2018 27 May 2018 Best Film Village Rockstars Won [29]
Best Actor (Female) Bhanita Das Won
Best Editing Rima Das Won
Best Sound Designer Amrit Pritam Won
Jury's Special Mention Basanti Das Won
7th Assam state Film Award and Festival 29 July 2018 Kamal Narayan Choudhry Award for Best Director Rima Das Won
Best Sound Design Amrit Pritam Won
Best Debut Actress Bhanita Das Won
Nalin Dowerah Award for Best Cinematography Rima Das Won
3rd BRICS film festival 27 July 2018 Best Actress Bhanita Das Won
Special Jury Award Village Rockstars Won

Official selection at festivals[edit]

  • Toronto International Film Festival (Discovery Section) 2017[30]
  • San Sebastián International Film Festival (New Directors Competition) 2017[31]
  • Guwahati International Film Festival[32]
  • Dharamshala International Film Festival[33] (closing film)
  • Cannes Film Festival 2017[34]
  • Kerala International Film Festival (International Competition) 2017[35]
  • SIFFCY[36] 2017 (Opening film)
  • Tallinn Black Nights 2017[37]
  • HKIFF, Hong Kong International Film Festival 2018[38]
  • International Film Festival of India, Goa 2017[39]
  • Glasgow Film Festival, UK 2018 (UK premiere)[40]
  • Cairo International Film Festival 2017, Egypt[41]
  • MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2017, India[20]
  • Medellín International Film Festival 2017, Colombia
  • International Children's Film Festival India 2017, India (Competition Section)[42]
  • Leiden International Film Festival, Netherlands 2017[43]
  • Cork Film Festival 2017, Ireland[21]
  • Olympia International Film Festival 2017, Greece (Competition Section)[23]
  • Cine Junior Film Festival, France, 2018 (French premiere)[25]
  • Les Toiles Filantes, France, 2018
  • Cairo International Women's Film Festival, Egypt, 2018
  • Aga Khan Museum, Canada, 2018[44]
  • Reel 2 Real International Film Festival for Youth, Canada, 2018[45]
  • Tromso International Film Festival, Norway, 2018 (Norwegian premiere)
  • Göteborg International Film Festival, Sweden, 2018 (Swedish Premiere)
  • MOOOV Film Festival, Belgium, 2018 (Belgium premiere)
  • Muestra de Cine de Lanzarote, Spain, 2017[26]
  • Jogjakarta Film Festival, Indonesia 2017 (South East Asian Premiere)
  • Bangalore Film Festival, India
  • Chennai International Film Festival, India[46]
  • Singapore South Asian International Film Festival 2018

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Each date is linked to the article about the awards held that year, wherever possible.


  1. ^
    • "'Village Rockstars, Film On Guitar-Playing Girl, Is India's Oscar Entry'". Retrieved 11 October 2018.
    • "'Village Rockstars': Film Review - Mumbai 2017". Retrieved 22 September 2018.
    • Purkayastha, Debasree (25 September 2017). "Rockstar from the village". The Hindu. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
    • Lee, Maggie (14 September 2017). "Toronto Film Review: 'Village Rockstars'". Retrieved 22 September 2018.
    • "Rima Das: Director of 'Village Rockstars'- A one crew army". Retrieved 22 September 2018.
    • Bains, Pahull (9 October 2017). "Meet the one-woman army behind 'Village Rockstars'". Retrieved 22 September 2018.
    • "Assamese Filmmaker's 'Village Rockstars' Steals the Show at MAMI 2017  » Northeast Today". 19 October 2017. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  2. ^ "65th National Film Awards: Sridevi wins Best Actress award, Assamese film Village Rockstars is Best Film". The Indian Express. 13 April 2018. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Assamese film Village Rockstars wins Best Film at national film awards". The News Mill. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Assamese Movie 'Village Rockstars' Is India's Official Entry For The Oscars". Headlines Today. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  5. ^ "The incident that triggered the idea of making 'Village Rockstars'". Times of India. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Solo Celluloid". Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  7. ^ name is aryya-das-1923331 "Village Rockstars Based On True Story, Reveals Director Rima Das". ndtv. Retrieved 20 October 2019. {{cite web}}: Check |url= value (help)
  8. ^ "3rd annual Film Critics Circle of India Award". Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  9. ^ Chatterjee, Saibal (6 February 2019). "Village Rockstars Movie Review: Rim Das' Film Is Not A Masterpiece, It's A Miracle". Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  10. ^ "Toronto Film Review: 'Village Rockstars'". Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  11. ^ "'Village Rockstars': Film Review - Mumbai 2017". Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  12. ^ Lynn, Hannah. "What's coming to the Silk Screen?". Pittsburgh City Paper.
  13. ^ "Review: Rima Das's Village Rockstars brings down the house, and proves the 2019 Oscars are singing the wrong tune" – via The Globe and Mail.
  14. ^ Simonpillai, Radheyan (28 January 2019). "Review: Village Rockstars should have got a foreign-language Oscar nomination". NOW Magazine.
  15. ^ "Village Rockstars (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  16. ^ "Village Rockstars, Bulbul Can Sing to stream on Netflix". North East Now. Retrieved 13 March 2020.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ "Oscars: India Selects 'Village Rockstars' for Foreign-Language Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 21 November 2018.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ "Village Rockstars out of Oscars 2019 race". 18 December 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  19. ^ "65th National Film Awards: A look at the complete list of winners and more". India Today. Retrieved 21 November 2018.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ a b "Village Rockstar steals the show at MAMI 2017, bags 3 awards". India Today. Retrieved 21 November 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. ^ a b "Awards". Cork Film Festival. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  22. ^ "Cairo International Film Festival". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  23. ^ a b c d "Τα Βραβεία του 20ου Φεστιβάλ Ολυμπίας". Olympia Festival. 10 December 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  24. ^ a b "Siffcy Winner". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  25. ^ a b "Palmarès du Festival Ciné Junior 2018" (PDF).
  26. ^ a b ""Milla", de Valerie Massadian, se alza con el Premio a la Mejor película de la 7ª Muestra de cine de Lanzarote". Muestra de Cine de Lanzarote (in European Spanish). 4 December 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  27. ^ desk, Northeast Live web (18 April 2018). "Village Rockstars awarded Grand Jury Best Feature Film at Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles - North East Live". Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  28. ^ "Películas de India y Colombia, premiadas por SIGNIS en el 20 BAFICI". SIGNIS. 23 April 2018.
  29. ^ "Govinda at Prag Cine Awards 2018 » Northeast Today". 29 May 2018. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  30. ^ "Village Rockstars". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  31. ^ "San Sebastian Film Festival". sansebastianfestival. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  32. ^ "'Village Rockstars' to be screened at Guwahati international film fest". The Times of India. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  33. ^ "Rising Star: Village Rockstars director Rima Das". 15 October 2017. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  34. ^ "Rima Das's Village Rockstars to be showcased at Cannes film festival - The News Mill". 21 March 2017. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  35. ^ girish, girish. "Village Rockstars". 22nd International Film Festival of Kerala. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  36. ^ "Siffcy". Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  37. ^ Pandya, Sonal. "Ajji, Mukkabaaz, Village Rockstars among 5 Indian films chosen for Black Nights Film Festival in Estonia". Cinestaan. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  38. ^ Frater, Patrick (28 February 2018). "Hong Kong Festival Sets Debut Features as Opening Film Pair". Variety. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  39. ^ "Indian Panorama 2017". IFFI Goa. 10 November 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  40. ^ "Scotland's original independent cinema is the". Glasgow Film Theatre. 17 March 2018. Retrieved 17 March 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  41. ^ "'Village Rockstars' wins Cairo film festival award". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  42. ^ "20th International Children's Film Festival India". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  43. ^ "Village Rockstars". Leiden International Film Festival. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  44. ^ "Aga Khan Museum". Aga Khan Museum. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  45. ^ "Village Rockstars | R2R Festival". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  46. ^ "Films". Chennai International Film Festival. 28 November 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2018.

External links[edit]