Indian filmmaker Rima Das is back at the Toronto International Film Festival for the third time with “Tora’s Husband” this year, after “Village Rockstars” in 2017 and “Bulbul Can Sing” in 2018.
“Tora’s Husband” follows a small-business owner and his family in the eastern Indian state of Assam, as the country emerges from COVID-19 lockdown.
” ‘Tora’s Husband’ tells the stories of common people whose lives and livelihood are directly or indirectly affected by the pandemic, yet they have to keep going,” Das told Variety. “My family wasn’t directly affected by the pandemic, but there was a constant sense of fear and restlessness. I lost my father during these times, though not due to COVID, it is still difficult to come to terms with his loss.”
Das is a renaissance woman of Indian cinema who writes, shoots, directs, edits and produces her own films. Her previous two films were set in a village and “Tora’s Husband” moves two kilometers afield to a small town connected to several villages. In all these films, the family unit is very strong.
“Love is important for me. The family is the very first place where you can experience love. Sometimes may be due to misunderstandings or expectations children do not experience the love that can nourish them and help them flourish,” said Das. “In my films, I try to create a world as I have observed or I want to see.”
In the film the protagonist makes a lot of effort to keep locals in employment via a bakery and a restaurant that he operates. “Most of the people of Assam are indigenous people. They have a simple life that is rooted in nature, so depend on rivers, forests, hills. Then there are others who are farmers, small businessmen, street vendors, who have to earn their daily bread. So it is very important that people have work,” Das said. “My protagonist understands his employees depend on their incomes to take care of their families and so he makes a conscious effort to see that they remain employed.”
Meanwhile, Toronto, from where “Village Rockstars” launched and was eventually India’s entry to the Oscars, remains an important place for Das.
“TIFF is one of the most prestigious and biggest public film festivals in the world, with a large and diverse audience, distinguished artists and journalists, buyers and sellers. It is from where the ‘Village Rockstars’ journey took off,” said Das. “I am happy that Tora’s Husband made it to TIFF and will compete in the Platform section. It’s a big honor. This was my most challenging film to date and having it at TIFF boosts my morale.”
Das is represented by Tulsea.
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