National Award-winning filmmaker Rima Das’ next feature, Bulbul Can Sing which premiered at Toronto International Film Festival 2018 screened to a packed house of an audience. Das’ third independent feature in the Assamese language made its World Premiere at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) 2018 in the competition segment, ‘Contemporary World Cinema’
Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) says, ‘Last year Rima Das came to the Festival with Village Rockstars, her delightful drama about a girl with a dream. After its premiere here, it went on to sweep India’s National Film Awards and play dozens of festivals around the world. Das is back with another breath of fresh air, once again shot amidst the timeless beauty of her home village in India’s Assam state. As in the earlier film, Das imbues every frame with insight and respect, and this time there’s a growing exploration of adolescence. Bulbul Can Sing is no simple rural idyll.
Bulbul is an exuberant young woman, most happy when she’s hanging out in the fields with her friends Bonny and Sumu. As these three teenagers, two girls and a boy, begin to define their own identities, they find themselves increasingly clashing with the age-old rules set down by the village. Bulbul is attracted to a boy for the first time, but her mother advises that ‘Girls should be modest. Girls should behave well.’ Sumu is bullied for not conforming to what his peers expect of a young man. For Bonny, the pressures of the community become unbearable.
Das recounts her story in the pure language of cinema. The camera finds moments — in a music class, by a lake, or on the landscape of Bulbul’s face — that suddenly illuminate this girl’s coming to womanhood and self-awareness. A villager’s stray remark compresses centuries of tradition and offers guidance to Bulbul, but also a constraint. And as she learns to walk with both love and death in her life, countless variations of natural light give her whole world an immersive glow.’
The writer-director-producer made the film independently, in the same way as her earlier film, Village Rockstars. Sharing her joy, Rima says, ‘It’s a huge honour to present Bulbul Can Sing to such a lovely audience at TIFF, I am completely thrilled and overwhelmed by their response. Thank you, TIFF and my team back home. I missed my team a lot.’
Bulbul Can Sing is a visceral coming-of-age drama about a teenage girl, Bulbul, living in a village in Assam, fighting her way through love and loss as she figures out who she really is.
Rima Das debut film as a writer-director-producer, Man with Binoculars (Antardrishti) premiered at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2016. Village Rockstars, her second feature, premiered at Toronto International Film Festival 2017 under Discovery Section. The film has screened at more than 70 renowned film festivals and has won 44 awards including 4 National Awards (Best Feature, Best Editing, Audiography and Child Artist).