Award-winning Rima Das returns to TIFF with Bulbul Can Sing

Scene from Bul Bul Can Sing.

By Malkanthie Abeyewardene

National Award- Winning Indian filmmaker, Rima Das, released a film, Bulbul Can Sing, that had its world premiere in a fully packed audience at the 43rd Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September 2018. Bulbul Can Sing is the third feature film directed by Rima Das. Her second feature, Village Rockstars, screened at the TIFF in 2017. Village Rockstars received the Indian National award and many other awards and nominated for India’s Best Foreign Language Film Category.

The festival’s co-head and artistic director, Cameron Baily, was “thrilled” to welcome Das back to Toronto, and he said, “I think she is a really remarkable talent”. TIFF’s decision to program Village Rockstars last year certainly worked, as Baily said, it came to the festival as a small film, made on a very modest budget, set in a fairly remote part of India, Assam, and it really became such a phenomenon. When she arrived Toronto last year, she was an unknown filmmaker with self-made production in the discovery section of the festival.


In an interview, Das said the impact of TIFF on her career was “huge.”

Scene from the film.

Bulbul Can Sing rotates around a fifteen-year-old girl who likes to hang around with her two friends, Sumu and Bonny. Two girls and a boy climb trees, make swings, talk, and spend time after school. According to age-old traditions, elders in the village never approved of it. One afternoon, the trio were roaming around in the fields, rested on the green grass surrounded with Araliya trees. The flowers were scattered all over the green grass. They made garlands, put them on each other, and became very intimate.

I closed my eyes for a moment to remember the days in the past, back home, how I used to pick Araliya flowers in the morning, fallen on the green grass with morning dew shining on their petals. After moving to Colombo, Araliya is the only flower that makes me happy. Though, I missed all kinds of roses and other beautiful flowers; their fragrance surrounded our garden in the hills.

In just a few seconds, I heard the sounds of chaos and beating from the screen and when I opened my eyes, I saw a group of village boys and elders beating the three friends and dragging them to the school yard. They were punished severely and expelled from the school for misconduct.

On the 1st of November, Bulbul Can Sing won the National Award at the 20th Jio MAMI festival and Rima Das dedicated it to her mother to get her blessings for the Village Rockstar’s journey towards the Oscars.

On December 20, 2018, The Economic Times reported: “Filmmaker Rima Das’ Assamese feature, Bulbul Can Sing, Is set to have its European premiere at the 69th Berlin Film Festival next year.

The development comes a day after Das’ award-winning Village Rockstars ended its dream run at the Oscars 2019 as India’s official entry in the Best Foreign Language category.
Berlinale, on Wednesday, announced the film as part of the first 16 program pics for the festival to hold from February 17 next year.”

About the Director

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind along with Junior Minister for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, confer the Best Feature Film and Best Editing awards to Rima Das, Director, Producer and Writer of the film Village Rockstars, at the 65th National Film Awards ceremony in New Delhi in May 2018.

Rima Das was born and raised in a small farming village in Assam at the state of Northeast in India. In her village, most of the people lived in poverty and the annual Monsoon rain storm mercilessly attack the village and destroyed their crops. Covered in flood water, they struggle to survive. “I was not that poor, because my father was a school teacher”, she stated in an interview.

“Using the people in the village, I thought of building a real -life story using my memories in the past”. She further explained.
Rima Das, a self-taught woman filmmaker is the Executive Producer, Producer, Editor, Screenplay Writer, Cinemaphotographer, and Production Designer in Bulbul Can Sing. (Courtesy TIFF)