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Rediff.com  » Movies » Why Village Rockstars needs Aamir Khan

Why Village Rockstars needs Aamir Khan

September 25, 2018 10:45 IST

Politics, favouritism and poor taste in cinema have contributed to embarrassing choices for the Oscar race in the past.
This little gem from India needs the love, emotional and financial support from the government as well as the Indian film industry, argues Aseem Chhabra.

Towards the middle of Rima Das's National Award-winning Assamese film Village Rockstars, a young girl (the film's protagonist Dhanu) rides in a boat with a friend.

Floodwaters have spread across Dhanu's village, and the boat just gently glides.

In the quietness that envelops the village, we hear small sounds of water hitting the boat.

Das -- a one-woman crew, recording sound, carrying the camera, shooting the film herself, while also directing the young actors (it is an indie film in the truest form) -- uses no special effects, no gimmicks like 3D.

When the film opens in India on September 28 in select cities, it will not play in 4XD theatres.

Yet, the boat-ride is the most emotionally moving sensory experience you will feel while watching a recent Indian film. You get the sense that you are on the boat, on this short journey with the kids.

Das has made Village Rockstars with a magician's touch.

 

Village Rockstars is the story of a girl who dreams of owning a guitar and having her own band. It is packed with such heartfelt moments of kids hanging out, in the fields, on trees and in water.

Much of the film is shot in the magic hour when the sun glows in deep yellow and orange shades.

It is pure cinema, simple and honest that touches us deeply in the quietest possible way.

Village Rockstars premiered last year at the Toronto International Film Festival, where critics and audiences celebrated it.

The Variety review said the following about the film: 'When the Dublin schoolboys of Sing Street form a band, it's all about scoring with a girl. In Village Rockstars, tucked away in an Indian backwater, a moppet also has rock 'n' roll dreams, but her goal of becoming a guitarist is motivated by larger issues, like rebellion, empowerment -- and to send a message to the universe. Pluckily optimistic and unsentimental to a fault, writer-director Rima Das' second film is a tonic to Third World poverty porn.'

And now Das' film is India's official entry for the foreign language Oscar race -- a great selection and a wonderful honour to a young woman, who has no professional film making training. She learned everything she knows about making movies by watching them and following tutorials on YouTube.

Too many times the committees formed by the Film Federation of India have selected wrong films to represent India for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Enough has been written about films likes The Good Road, Jeans, Indian, Saagar and Henna that stood no chance of getting Oscar nominations.

Politics, favouritism and poor taste in cinema have contributed to these embarrassing choices.

But in recent years, the committees have been more sensitive in picking Indian nominees that would compete for the Oscars for foreign language films.

India's official entries in the last few years -- Court, Visaranai Newton -- were the best and the right choices. It is another thing that the competition was really tough.

Like in the past, Village Rockstars also has the odds stacked up against it.

There are way too many films for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences's viewing committees to watch.

The field is getting crowded with some exceptional films that are already carrying major buzz, including Mexico's Roma (Golden Lion winner at the Venice Film Festival and by all counts the front runner in this race), Japan's Shoplifters (Palme d'Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival), Sweden's Border (Un Certain Regard Winner at the Cannes Film Festival), Korea's Burning (based on a story by Haruki Murakami), Turkey's The Wild Pear Tree, Israel's Cakemaker and Germany's Never Look Away (directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck whose thriller The Lives of Others won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2006).

But even then, Village Rockstars should be given a chance to shine.

Das has spoken in interviews about not having any resources to promote the film among members of the Academy, leading up the Oscar nominations to be announced on January 22.

This little gem from India needs the love, emotional and financial support from the government as well as the Indian film industry.

In 2001, Aamir Khan spent a lot of time, energy and money promoting his film Lagaan for the foreign language Oscar race.

A little film Village Rockstars needs the love and support of the likes of Aamir Khan and his superstar colleagues from Shah Rukh Khan to Amitabh Bachchan and even Karan Johar.

India needs to do good for this small film that could possibly shine attention on the country and its film industry.

Aseem Chhabra