Freed by the Camera

In a small village in Assam, India, we meet our protagonist, Dhunu, a free-spirited 10-year-old girl with a Styrofoam guitar, playing a song of hope. Undeterred by life’s challenges, Dhunu dreams of starring in her own rock band — except with a real guitar.

The onscreen journey of “Village Rockstars’” protagonist embodies the real-life journey of Rima Das, the director. A self-taught filmmaker working with few resources and no budget or star power, Das is the rock star behind the film.

Das originally envisioned a film about young boys she met at a local village festival in her home state of Assam. They were playing fake instruments with such joy that it hardly seemed to matter that they didn’t have the resources to buy real ones.

“But as I began to shoot,” remembers Das, “I noticed Bhanita Das [Rima’s young cousin, who went on to play Dhunu]. She would climb trees and run around with the boys. I saw myself in her and, suddenly, it hit me: She was the story.”

At a time when women are still considered the “weaker sex,” Dhunu and her mother are an embodiment of feminine strength. They stand up, in their own way, to everything life throws at them, from poverty to floods.

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