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Village Rockstars Movie Review: It Sells Indian Poverty To Festivals.  



Village Rockstars

Starring: Bhanita Das

Written and directed by Rima Das

Rating: ** 1/2 (two and a half stars)

For long stretches, nothing happens in this film about an impoverished little girl in Assam who dreams of owning her own guitar. I Inert silences are considered a huge asset in films that glorify the Great Indian Poverty for a certain section of the Western audience which sees India and Indian cinema in two ways: either there is too much singing and dancing or there is too little to eat and to hope for.

Village Rockstars falls into the latter category. It fits in rather snugly with the western audiences’ perception of an impoverished India. A pre-pubescent girl Dhunu (Banita Das) wishes to own a guitar and form a musical band. It isn’t very clear where and how Dhunu’s yearnings sprouted into a veritable passion. Or how and why she wants to play rock music and own a rock band. The aspirational peg gives the debutant director a peg to pan her inquisitive camera across long stretches of silently stirring paddy fields and shots of adolescents running across middle hinterlands.

The film looks and feels like Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali but it lacks the vision and lyricism of Ray ‘s exposition on rural poverty. Reema Das seems to use the theme of Indian Poverty as a peg for her aspirational story. The narrative even at a conservative 90 minutes, clocks up a heft of tedium. I couldn’t get myself involved in Dhunu’s story. It wasn’t her fault.

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She just couldn’t draw me into her yearnings. Village Rockstars has some quaint heartwarming passages among the village children who want to form a musical band. But by the time Rima Das threw in a flood sequence and a menstruation ritual I knew the director was in this for the long haul. More than her little protagonist’s yearning for a guitar it is the director’s craving to take rural Assam’s destitution to a salivating western audience that propels this overrated film forward.

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