The key to becoming a successful and fulfilled independent filmmaker is to write, direct, shoot, edit, and produce a film, according to Rima Das, the one-woman army behind Village Rockstars and Bulbul Can Sing.
“Since I handle the different department of filmmaking myself I get more freedom to do things my way,” Das told Mail Today.
“The fact that I am not trained and I didn’t go to a film school in a way helped me to explore more and to be true to my vision. Be it the writing, direction, cinematography or editing, I didn’t follow a method trained professionals would. I could understand my craft better and create my own kind of cinema. Watching world cinema inspired me and gave me a perspective of global filmmaking. But I think having my own unique style helped me stand out,” she added.
The self-taught filmmaker, whose both films prompted a collective critical swoon, brought her international acclaim and made her a bona-fide film festival favourite, said she didn’t expect it.
“When I started making movies, I wanted my films to travel all over the world, but I never imagined the responses would be so warm. It feels good to be appreciated. I am really happy.”
Both Village Rockstars, which picked up four National Awards and was the country’s entry for the foreign-language Oscar, and Bulbul Can Sing, an elegiac coming-of-age story screened at Toronto, Mumbai and Berlin film festivals, feature non-professional, young actors, where Das said she explored her inner child to connect with them to tell their stories.
“There are few films made on children and young people in India. There is a huge gap that is increasing between the youngsters and older people. They are our future and so there is a need to tell their stories,” added Das.
“I like working with young actors because they are innocent and transparent. There is a certain bonding that I have developed with them that helps me understand them and tell their stories.”
Village Rockstars featured Das’ niece Bhanita, who plays Dhunu, a young girl who dreams of forming a rock band. Hailing from Assam, the award-winning filmmaker is someone who never shies away from lending her support to promote the rich culture of her home state.
“When I travel around the world,” Das said. “I mostly wear Assamese attires. It’s rich and beautiful,” she said.
Last month, the award-winning filmmaker turned showstopper for designer Tara Bhuyan’s first fashion event in India, which was a collection of Assamese tapestry and silk. The evening gown she wore, a blend of muga silk and chiffon, and embellished with Swarovski crystals, was one of the gowns Bhuyan said she created for Das to wear at the Oscars and at the Cannes.
So what’s she working on next? “It’s a little too early to divulge details. But all I can say is that there are 2-3 films at the scripting stage. Like with every film I have tried to do something different, I will be continuing that with the upcoming films too.”