‘Rainbow Fields’: Filming a Massacre Everyone Has Forgotten About

‘Rainbow Fields’: A must-watch film on the Nellie massacre.

Indian Cinema
3 min read

Cameraman: Sanjoy Deb
Producer: Vanshika Sood, Tridip K Mandal
Video Editor: Kunal Mehra

(This article was first published on 30 March 2018. It has been reposted from The Quint’s archives on the anniversary of the Nellie massacre.)

Bidyut Kotoky’s award-winning Assamese film, ‘Xhoixobote Dhemalite’ ( or ‘Rainbow Fields’) is set against the backdrop of the Nellie massacre in Assam. The film stars Victor Banerjee, Nakul Vaid and Dipannita Sharma.

On 18 February 1983, Nellie in Assam’s Nagaon district was the ground zero of one of independent India’s bloodiest, deadliest genocides.

Almost 2,000 people, mostly Bengali muslims, were massacred in the six-hour-long spell of violence that began at 8 in the morning.

At that time, Bidyut Kotoky, the director of ‘Rainbow Fields’ was a kid growing up in Assam.

My friends saw dead bodies floating down the river. They would sit and count the bodies. One day a mob came to our front door, according to them someone was hiding in our backyard. There I saw a man in a torn vest which was red with dried blood. He was holding his little daughter, begging for mercy, to be spared alive. 
Bidyut Kotoky, Director, ‘Rainbow Fileds’

Memories like these have shaped the script of ‘Rainbow Fields’. The film is about a generation of Assamese population which grew up in the turbulent 80s in the state.

Bidyut Kotoky directing a child actor. 
Bidyut Kotoky directing a child actor. 
(Photo: The Quint) 

What makes ‘Rainbow Fields’ universal is its theme. A child growing up in Assam, Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq goes through the same emotional turmoil, separated by geographic boundaries but sharing the same grief, fear and sense of loss.

Rainbow Fields’ was premiered at the 48th edition of International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa. It won Best Foreign Film award at the Hollywood International Cinefest in Los Angeles. However, the journey to make this independent film has been a tough one for Kotoky, who had to depend on crowd funding and financial help from a few generous producers. The film saw a limited release in Assam in January 2018.

It’s difficult to even recover the costs by screening the film only in Assam. There’s hardly enough screens in the state. In the early 90s there were about 90 cinema halls in Assam. Today, there are hardly 50, even those are not good enough for a family viewing experience. Things are really tough for the Assamese film industry. 
Bidyut Kotoky, Director, ‘Rainbow Fileds’
Actor Victor Banerjee with child artists. 
Actor Victor Banerjee with child artists. 
(Photo: The Quint) 

Rainbow Fields’ is finally getting a limited release across the metros in India, starting with Mumbai. The filmmaker is hopeful of reaching out to a much wider audience, not just in Assam but across India.

If people can watch good Iranian or French cinema with subtitles, why won’t they watch a good Assamese film with subtitles?
Bidyut Kotoky, Director, ‘Rainbow Fileds’

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