Boomba may only reach the waist of the average adult, but be wary of this boy with the cute face and tatty clothes.
Boomba is the only student at a government school, and is fully aware of his role in keeping the establishment running. Boomba has to be dragged to school every morning and his teachers have to woo him to stay there. They are desperate to keep their salaries and are stealing money from allocations for the mid-day meal scheme. The blandishments to Boomba include country chicken and cash.
Boomba Ride might be fiction, but the latest movie from Assamese director Biswajit Bora is based on real events. Bora based Boomba Ride on a television report about a similar instance.
The report helped Bora create a miniature portrait of a state-wide problem: the poor state of schools in rural Assam and the ways in which teachers and managers keep these schools alive just so that they may earn their salaries and other benefits.
The movie is a winning satire, filled with comic moments stemming mainly from the efforts of the teachers to keep their scam going at any cost. But the film’s theme points to a serious problem, Bora told Scroll.in.
“I have seen so many stories about government-run schools in Assam that don’t have the facilities that schools should have,” Bora said. “Education is taken far too lightly.”
Bora shot Boomba Ride soon after the completion of God on the Balcony (2019). That film looked at the pathetic state of rural health through the story of a man who is forced to transport his dead wife’s body on his cycle because no other form of transport is available.
Bora filmed Boomba Ride in Golaghat, where he was born and raised. Golaghat is “like heaven”, a place where you can walk for miles without seeing anybody, Bora said.
He found his entirely non-professional cast by spending time with the locals. The Mising dialect in which they communicate is also the main language of the film.
“None of the actors had been in a play or a film before,” Bora said. “I wanted to keep the film very natural. I wanted Boomba to do whatever he wanted. I would talk to the actors in Assamese, they could follow what I said, and then translate it among themselves.”
Indrajit Pegu, who plays Boomba, had been following Bora around during his hunt for locations. “His eyes were intense but also innocent,” Bora said. “He was also very daring.”
The floor-level budget meant that Bora and his crew had to make do with whatever they could manage. “I could have shot some scenes in a better way, but I didn’t have the budget,” Bora said. The 75-minute film was completed after a 13-day shoot in November and December. Bora spent the money he had won through the awards given to God on the Balcony on his new movie.
The title refers to Boomba’s adventure in academics. After bullying and harassing his teachers, Boomba finds an unusual motivation to be educated.
“The film is about Boomba’s journey that I hope we have captured in the most natural way,” Bora said. “It’s like taking a ride in a theme park – it makes you feel elated and joyful.” Bora is preparing to send Boomba Ride to film festivals before pursuing a theatrical release.