“I find stories from life, people…”: Rima Das

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Rima Das is a self-taught film writer, producer, and director. Born and raised in a small village in Assam in northeast India, she is now based in Mumbai and Assam.

Das is best known for her film, Village Rockstars which won several national and international awards.

In addition to writing and directing feature fiction and documentary films, she also manages a film production company called Flying River Films in Mumbai, which supports local, independent filmmaking in the region.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH RIMA DAS

Q. 1 : What was the inspiration of your career?
=In India, we feel like we are ordinary people who dream big. Life changed in a way that I feel like now, the journey I started 4-5 years ago is possible. You can dream and if you really believe in your vision and style, it is possible. I also learned there is no rule for filmmaking or art. If you are telling stories from your heart, then people connect with it. Studios are now approaching me; they want to make movies with me. It is very inspiring.

Q. 2 : Whose and what kind of cinema do you admire the most?
=I draw inspiration from Wong Kar-wai, Majid Majidi and our very own Satyajit Ray. I learn by watching their films. Ingmar Bergman and Quentin Tarantino have also influenced me. I spend hours watching films. Even while working on my projects, I take time out to watch films. This relaxes me. Also at festivals like TIFF, Cannes, Tallinn, and MAMI, although I network where possible, I do make sure to watch at least three to four films a day.

Q. 3 : How does it feel to win an award?
=It is very difficult to express in words. It’s so inspiring for every young or new filmmaker to show that it is possible. Most of the time, we get the feeling that it is not possible and our dreams are too big.

Q. 4 : What inspired you to get started as a self-taught filmmaker?
=I find stories from life, people, character, situations that are floating around us. Perhaps that is why most of my stories are set in nature. People from real life come in my characters. That does not mean that I do not want to make a film with stars, rather I want to do it to grow. Directing stars would be a new challenge for me, and I will learn from it.

Q. 5 : Did you expect the kind of international festival response you got for Village Rockstars?
=I honestly didn’t expect anything. The film opened at Toronto, which was followed by its European premiere at San Sebastian. I was happy it was at Toronto and I never expected that it would end up going to so many festivals and get the kind of response that it did.

Q. 6 : Bulbul Can Sing revolves around teenagers. What drew you back to making a film with young people?
=I experienced childhood with Village Rockstars and now I wanted to have a teenage experience with Bulbul Can Sing. It is a life-changing thing for me as well. When you are working with children and teenagers, they are more transparent, more innocent, and that excites me.

Q. 7 : What challenges face female filmmakers in the region?
=Filmmaking is a difficult career for women in general. Staying away from family, children and working odd hours are obvious hindrances. There are great women filmmakers around the world and I look up to them. Yes, I think there are more women working abroad, but again depends on which country! In India too, we have many talented and gifted women filmmakers and I hope we will increase our force and presence both on national and international platforms.

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