Sohini Sarkar: “I was quite afraid to work with the kids in Phoring!”
he is young, vibrant, bubbly and beautiful. And she’s not afraid to step out of the box when it’s necessary. That’s Sohini Sarkar in a nutshell, who always has a hearty smile to offer. After getting a positive response for her character in the critically acclaimed film - ‘Rupkatha Noy’, she essays the role of a teacher dealing with the multi-layered psyche of the adolescent mind her next.
Just before the release of her latest film ‘Phoring’, Sohini shares her thoughts through the journey of this film in an exclusive chat with Tollywood Dhamaka. The following is an excerpt from the conversation…
When did you decide to do ‘Phoring’?
Technically, ‘Phoring’ is my first film, because it happened before ‘Rupkatha Noy’. With ‘Phoring’ I did not have an option. About a year and a half ago, I was on quite a long break after ‘Adwitiya’, which is when Kobi da (Indranil Roy Chowdhury) approached me. I saw one of his works before that in ‘Ek Mutho chhobi’, where one of the six stories in the film was by Kobi da, and I liked it. My friends, who knew about him, and appreciated his work as well, told me to take it up. Finally, when I heard the script, I was highly impressed and I readily agreed to do this film.
How is ‘Phoring’ a different and unconventional film?
In Tollywood, there have been several films made on children, and several more made on adults. But the adolescent phase is in focus here. The juncture of childhood and adulthood is what is important in this film. The hormonal spurt, the questions, the difficulties, the confusions of the adolescent phase is what we tried to dwell with in ‘Phoring’; which is why I think this film is quite unconventional and different from what we’ve witnessed before. And hence the tagline – “Phoring is a children’s film for adults” is justified.
Do you think that the name ‘Phoring’ has been used metaphorically for the film?
There may be a deep metaphorical connect to it, but I like to keep things quite simple. In the story, Phoring (played by Akash Adhikary) had a brother who is dead. His brother’s name was Ganga. And thus his name Phoring, compliments his brother’s name to make it Ganga-phoring (grass-hopper). But, having said that, Kobi da has a metaphorical explanation to it! He told me that dragonflies can’t fly too high, and travel too far. Similarly, an adolescent child has his own limitations. He may dream, he may try, but he won’t be able to fly too high.
Did you ever have a crush on your teacher? Or did you come across anything similar in real life?
I didn’t study in a co-educational institution. Which is why, I personally didn’t experience anything like that. But, a lot of my friends have faced such situations. Now, if I start revealing all that, my poor friends will be I trouble (laughs).
How has it been working with your director Indranil Roy Chowdhury?
I trust him as a person and as a director I would love to give him 200 out of 100. I believe it was a very different and difficult take as a film-maker. And the fact that I’m connected to this film is a big thing for me. We had to work with a lot of non actors in this film. But, Kobi da is an astonishingly cool headed person and he’s extremely skillful at making people work the way it is required.
Akash, who played the character of phoring, is a very young boy, who has never acted in front of the camera before. So, dealing with the idea of the adolescent phase and explaining that to a 12 year old new comer like Akash, and then dealing with difficult scenes such as directing the masturbating scene to a boy who may never have known what masturbation is, takes a lot out of a director. And Kobi da has done his work very skillfully and efficiently. It has been a great learning experience for me.
How well did you cope up with the child artists - Akash Adhikary and Saurav Basak?
They are very young, but I gelled very well with them. They would always keep me occupied - I played hide and seek with them, I had to play cricket with them, and their constant curiosity about my phone and my boyfriends kept me alert (laughs). And not only me, they were curious about everyone in the unit, and were better updated about their personal lives than the director himself (continues laughing).
In front of the camera, they don’t think much. They just do what they are asked to do, and they have fun. I was, in fact, quite afraid to work with them, because I didn’t know what was coming (laughs again).
Would you call ‘Phoring’ an independent film?
One can certainly call it an independent film, because it has been shot like an independent venture. ‘Phoring’ is fondly called the “half pant chhobi”! The story of the film is such that we did not require a lavish set up, we did not use too much of additional lights, and the entire film was shot with a Cannon 5D camera. We used a lot of natural set up and natural lighting, and the film was shot like a student film-maker from a college or SRFTI, shooting his project film. People who were witness to our work thought that we were shooting just a music video (laughs).
What’s your expectation out of this film?
It’s been a long and enriching journey for a year and a half. The first uncut version was presented at the Goa Film Bazaar, and it won an award there. Then there was another screening at Max Muller Bhavan. And the few film critics that I’ve spoken to appreciated the film. And starting from the poster designing, to the trailer to the screening, we’ve got a positive response for all. My friends were all very excited about this film. And there have been more than twelve thousand viewers of the online trailer itself.
Appreciation makes me feel good about things, and I’m certainly hoping that ‘Phoring’ would do very well at the theatres.