Shiva Rani Kalita, a 22-year-old woman, has brought laurels to Assam and the entire country by winning the Best Actress Award at the Ottawa 4th Indian Film Festival Awards held virtually in Canada from June 22-26.
Hailing from Baligaon village in Dhakuakhana, the young girl has been awarded for her role in the much-debated Assamese movie 'Bridge', directed by Kripal Kalita.
The film was screened at 28 international film festivals, including the Indian Panorama category for India's 51st International Film Festival.
About The Film
The film throws light on the relationship between the mighty Brahmaputra and the hardships that floods bring to villages every year, The New Indian Express reported. But despite losing their loved ones, the dwellers on the banks are fond of the river as they believe it gives them enormous satisfaction and undefined blissfulness.
"The floods wreak havoc every year. So, the message that I wanted to give through the film is that life must go on despite struggles, challenges, and adversities," Kripal says.
"The film also throws light on the socio-economic condition of people. The annual floods are our biggest problem that impedes development. Since the village does not have a bridge, nobody comes to marry its girls," he adds.
Kalita plays the role of a struggling woman named 'Jonaki' in rural Assam residing on the bank of a Brahmaputra tributary, who can plough, rear cattle, build a house. Jonaki takes all the responsibilities of her younger brother after her parents perished in flood-waters.
"This is so real in Assam's flood-affected areas," the film's director said.
Kripal added that Shiva Rani was selected from among 300 girls as the team was hunting for a girl who does not know acting and has a rustic face.
The 89-minute movie was made in two years, from 2018-20, given the floods and logistical problems. Kripal says a two-minute scene would take straight 8 hours as the artists and technical team had to go to the water to shoot, The New Indian Express reported. Natural scenes of people battling the floodwaters have also been included in the film.
Dream Comes True
Following the appreciation, Shiva Rani, who works at a departmental store in North Lakhimpur, said she couldn't believe in her wildest dreams to be selected as the best actress.
"I always aspired to become an actress, but to be selected for the best actress award was beyond my wildest dreams. I thank Gupomoni Gogoi and Anil Chamuah who had taken me to Kripal sir," Shivani said as quoted by The New Indian Express.
"I had a dream of becoming an actress as I acted in plays and got the offer to act in Bridge when I was pursuing graduation in Bachelor in Science," said Shiva Rani to a regional news portal.
In January this year, the film also won a special jury mention award at the 51st International Film Festival of India (IFFI) held in Goa. While receiving the award, the 43-year-old filmmaker had urged the Assamese people to watch local films.
While throwing light on the devastation flood brings every year, Kripal had told The Times of India, "There is no solution in sight for this problem. I, being a farmer's son from rural Assam, have faced this."
Kripal is an independent filmmaker who is known for giving opportunities to newcomers in films. Produced by Rama Kumar Das and Sabita Devi under the banner 'Kristipathar', 'Bridge' has been cinematographed by Ramen Rabha and edited by Kishore Deka.
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