| Urmila Mahanta who stars in Ballad of Rustom |
Guwahati, Jan. 9: Hindi film Ballad of Rustom, which features Assam actress Urmila Mahanta, has been shortlisted for the Best Picture category at the Academy Awards 2014 from among 3,000 entries across the world.
An alumnus of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, Urmila plays a supporting role in the 117-minute film.
“I got the news yesterday. I am so happy,” said Urmila, who is currently in Guwahati, busy shooting an Assamese film.
Ajita Suchitra Veera, the director of the film, was named best director in Osian’s Cinefan (the largest film festival devoted to Asian and Arab cinema) two years ago.
She has also graduated from FTII with a degree in science-theatre-photography and cinema.
Her short features have been showcased around the globe and are known for their visual beauty and novel style of filmmaking.
Urmila acted in the film while she was studying at FTII.
“One of our seniors requested me and my friends to help Veera by playing supporting roles. That was how we became a part of the film. The director wanted us to give some more time to the film but I was too busy then,” said Urmila.
In the film, Urmila plays one of the girls whom Rustom, the protagonist, meets on a train during his life as a wanderer.
“In the film Rustom comes and interacts with us, wanting to know more about us,” Urmila said.
Besides her role in the Ballad of Rustom, Urmila has appeared in various plays, short films and television serials.
She shot to fame after the critically acclaimed 2012 Tamil crime thriller Vazhakku Enn 18/9.
Hailing from Sonapur near Guwahati, Urmila went to school at Sonapur and graduated from Dimoria College in Khetri of Kamrup. She faced the camera for the first time when in Class XII.
“Ballad of Rustom is not based on the traditional concept of a hero and heroine. It’s a story where common people are featured,” said Urmila.
Rustom, a young Indian boy who works as a telephone lineman, is a part of various encounters. However, he prefers solitude and dreams of escaping into the harmonious world of nature. He keeps wandering from place to place, spending time with another youth who works on suburban trains.
Shanti Bhushan Roy is the cinematographer. The director decided to shoot on film and create a visually different scheme for the movie. The negatives underwent a processing technique called bleach bypass to create a unique look. She took four years to complete the film.
If Ballad of Rustom wins an Oscar it will be the second film to receive the prestigious award featuring an Assamese actor or actress. Before it, Life of Pi, featuring Assamese actor Adil Hussain, won accolades at the Academy Awards.