Free Thinking Honesty: Our Review of ‘Village Rockstars’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - January 31, 2019
Free Thinking Honesty: Our Review of ‘Village Rockstars’

When are supposed to do as is expected of you, doing what you want to do gets harder and harder…

Village Rockstars tackles some of the issues that films like The Florida Project and even something like Sing Street does while placing it in a setting that reminds us of our true humanistic similarities on a global scale.

In a small village in northeast India, 10-year-old Dhunu (Bhanita Das) dreams of having her own rock band. Her vibrant spirit, imagination and self-assurance stand out in a world where girls are expected to be timid and submissive.  With her gang of boys and the support of her widowed mother, Dhunu faces the struggles of her daily life and hopes for the day she can finally play on a real guitar.

In a sharp and stunning second feature, writer/director Rima Das reminds us with Village Rockstars that in this world still mostly dominated by boys and men, it’s important; now more than ever for girls to stand up for their dreams and at least try to make them come true.

To her credit, Rima Das as a visual storyteller really never tries to sugar coat anything while successfully juxtaposing some very beautiful countryside with the stark nature of the poverty that so many people in those parts of the world have to navigate on a day to day basis where life and in many cases basic survival is based on what you can farm for your families.

That ideal still exists in the character of Dhunu, played very well by Bhanita Das but we always get the sense of her wanting more.  Rima Das allows for the modern world to begin to play in and influence the world that she is building for us and it all unfolds in a very naturalistic and honest way.

Basically having non-actors (and seemingly family members) take up a fair chunk of the roles in this very low budget picture actually ends up working in the films benefit. Had there been actual actors taking up these roles it all would have run the risk of feeling very manufactures and dishonest, and that’s the last thing this film is about.

It’s a reminder for tolerance and honesty in everything around us, because that’s how we not only let people live their dreams, but just maybe have a chance to develop into enough of a free thinker to have a chance to make the world a little bit of a better place.

Coming across on the screen with a surprising amount of elegance and style, there’s parts of the storytelling in Village Rockstars that almost feels like a documentary, but that’s where its magic lies.  There’s a real truth and honest to seeing these children shake away the concern’s of perpetual poverty while playing in the distance landscape with Dhunu knowing that she may be a part of the first generation of women in their family or even their village with a chance to escape what is expected of them and allow them the chance to find their true potentials.

Village Rockstars is playing exclusively at the TIFF Bell Lightbox

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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