A still from Village Rockstars.
A still from Village Rockstars.

Village Rockstars is India’s official entry to Oscars 2019

Village Rockstars won four awards, including the one for Best Feature, at the 65th National Film Awards earlier this year

Mumbai: Village Rockstars, an Assamese language feature by National Award-winning filmmaker Rima Das, was on Saturday selected as India’s official entry for the best foreign language film category of the 2019 Academy (Oscar) Awards.

Village Rockstars beat 27 other contenders, including Hichki, Padmaavat, Raazi, Love Sonia, Nude, Pihu and Padman, said Rajendra Singh Babu, chairman of the Film Federation of India.

Das is the writer, director, cinematographer, editor and producer of Village Rockstars, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival 2017.

The coming-of-age film tells the story of 10-year-old Dhunu, a young girl from a remote village in Assam, who dreams of owning a guitar and forming a rock band despite the abysmal financial situation at home.

The film has travelled to more than 70 film festivals around the world. At the 65th National Film Awards earlier this year, the 87-minute drama also won four awards — for Best Feature, Best Editing, Best Location Sound Recordist and Best Child Artist.

Village Rockstars was shot in Das’s native village of Chhaygaon and most of the cast members are non-actors from the village, including her niece Bhanita Das who plays Dhunu.

“This is a great day. For an independent filmmaker like myself to get this recognition is huge and a big confidence boost," Das said over the phone from her home in Assam.

On the next steps and the need to get her film seen and noticed by the Academy members, Das said: “I have heard that we need a good promotion campaign. But I am a solo producer without any studio back-up, so it would be great if the governments of India and Assam understand my position and help."

Village Rockstars is slated for a pan-India release on 28 September.

Oscar nominations are usually announced in January. Last year, Amit Masurkar’s Newton was India’s official entry but failed to make it to the final nomination list. Only three Indian films — Mehboob Khan’s Mother India (1957), Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay! (1988), and Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan (2001) — have made it to the top five nominees for best foreign language film.

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