Village Rockstars Review: India’s Entry to the Oscars is a Winning Ode to Childhood Dreams

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Village Rockstars Review: India’s Entry to the Oscars is a Winning Ode to Childhood Dreams

Illustration: Arati Gujar

M

idway through Rima Das’s moving Village Rockstars – India’s official entry to the 91st Academy Awards – 10-year-old Dhunu (Bhanita Das) visits her widowed mother (Basanti Das) on the field one blistering afternoon. She goofs around for a while until her frail young mother decides to give her a lesson in swimming. Dhunu flails around hesitantly in the pond as her mother stands in front of her and holds her hand. A few seconds later, a smile flashes on Dhunu’s face as she confidently floats.

Proud of her new-found dexterity, Dhunu prods her mother about why her father couldn’t swim. “He never stopped being afraid. That’s why he drowned in the flood,” she replies. This tender moment is a metaphor, a small example of the indomitable strength of poverty-stricken women and their inherent survival instinct. For Dhunu’s mother, who learnt how to swim on her own, swimming is more than just a skill – it’s an ability to survive in a world that is waiting for them to drown.

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