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Stories come knocking, characters start whispering to me: Filmmaker Rima Das

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Stories come knocking, characters start whispering to me: Filmmaker Rima Das

New Delhi, March 29 (Ajit Weekly News) In almost all her movies, a certain calm envelops everything. Things move at their own peculiar pace, and tales unfold with an otherworldly rhythm. Even as she is completing post-production on the Assamese film ‘Village Rockstars: Echoing Tales’, a sequel to her movie ‘Village Rockstars (2017) that was selected as India’s official entry to the 91st Academy Awards, and won the Best Feature Film award at the 65th National Film Awards, filmmaker Rima Das stresses that stories just come to her, and then characters start making their presence felt all around her.

“And that is when I start writing and shooting. I do not work with a bound script, things constantly change while shooting. Improvisation is the key. I just take my camera and start rolling. I write something, go and shoot… Mid-way I start editing also. Everything is back and forth. But I like that,” she told Ajit Weekly News.

Even though all her films, be it ‘Village Rockstars’ or ‘Bulbul Can Sing’, which were both premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and were screened at more than 120 film festivals, winning over 70 awards, Das does not feel any pressure as she is working on her next.

“It is always about the art of filmmaking and the drive to grow. The effort is to keep the integrity and purity of the movie. Of course, it is always heartening when people and critics praise my films. But no, I never feel any pressure,” smiles the director, who is at the ongoing CineVesture International Film Festival (CIFF) being held in Chandigarh.

She however adds that with time, she has realised the importance of marketing her movies well.

“With ‘Village Rockstars’ and ‘Bulbul Can Sing’, the buzz was very organic. However, post-pandemic, things have changed for filmmakers like us. While the latest one is going to be the fifth film from my production house, I have understood that a separate budget needs to be kept for marketing the movie well.”

Das, who made a short English film as part of an anthology in Australia last year, besides documentaries in Hindi on Udaipur and teenage cricket in Mumbai, not to mention that she is writing a feature film in Hindi, is a one-woman crew — writing, directing, producing, editing, and shooting her films, besides handling art direction and costume designing. Though not formally trained in any aspect of filmmaking, she does miss going to film school now.

“I would not mind doing a short course in say cinematography. Technical knowledge about the camera and lighting, etc would be beneficial.”

For someone who likes to work with non-actors as they are seldom “too much into themselves”, said the filmmaker, adding that “They trust me and surrender. However, there is a limit to which you can push non-actors, unlike professional ones who also can get the best out of you. Yes, with professional actors, I need to ‘break’ them, ensuring that they ‘unlearn’.”

Though Das ‘Village Rockstars’ was made on a budget of Rs 20 lakh, she feels times have changed and it is no longer possible to work on that kind of a tight budget.

“Everything has become expensive. Now if I want to use sync sound and keep a considerable budget for marketing, how can I wrap everything in just a few lakhs?” she concludes.

–Ajit Weekly News

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