The growing-up tale of Phoring

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By Phoring is a growing-up tale from Kobi, who waited 18 years to do it his way
  • Published 19.09.13

It took Indranil Roychowdhury, or rather Kobi, 18 years after passing out from FTII Pune, to make his first feature film. “I waited and waited but I never made compromises,” said Kobi, who made advertising his bread and butter. In between, he did make Tapan Babu (the six-in-one film with Supriya Chowdhury and Arindam Sil as part of Ek Mutho Chhobi ). He is now ready with Phoring (releases on September 27), a film on “grown-up people’s childhood”. A t2 chat...

Explain the tagline “grown-up people’s childhood”...

Well, that’s the baseline that we are using with the title. See, though Phoring has a child actor (Akash Adhikari) as protagonist, it’s a film for 12 to 35-year-olds and that’s my target audience too. In fact we’ve never pitched Phoring as a film for children. The posters too indicate that with two school kids (Akash and Sourav Basak) staring at the sky and Sohini (Sarkar) walking past them. Phoring has got a ‘UA’ certificate. So if children below 12 years want to come, they should be accompanied by adults.

Phoring is an unusual title...

See, the name of the protagonist is Phoring because his father’s (Shankar Debnath) name is Ganga! As we know there’s an insect called Gangaphoring. But if you try and get into the layers then Phoring has a deeper meaning. A grasshopper is basically very weak. It has wings but cannot fly high. Phoring, my protagonist, is also like a grasshopper, he wanted to fly very high but his journey is cut short.

How much of Phoring is about your adolescence?

Not only mine, Phoring is an assortment of various other adolescent lives. We stumbled upon the idea when one day my friend Saugata Sinha (co-scriptwriter) and I started discussing about ours and many of our friends’ growing-up years. We thought why not make a film on this subject?

How awkward was it explaining the masturbation scenes to Akash?

Akash was 14 when we shot Phoring. Believe me it wasn’t difficult for me at all because I had opted for a few techniques while explaining the scenes to Akash. And he wasn’t bothered about the film and the story. For him it was one big picnic where he had a lot of fun. So for the ejaculation scene I told him that he pees in his pants and he believed me. We haven’t shown him masturbating. We see him panting against the wall. I told him that the scene is required to show him running away from his angry father! So you see I cheated him! But after watching those scenes Akash is a little apprehensive how his parents, who live in the Andamans, would react. We will take it as it comes!

Did you cast Sohini as the pretty teacher because she is not yet exposed on the big screen?

Yes, true. I had earlier thought of casting a star for her role but then decided to cast her because she brings in a kind of freshness to the character. Sohini is a director’s delight.

What seemed like a film on teacher-student relationship in the beginning takes a very different turn. Was it deliberate?

It’s better we don’t talk about the twist. Let that be a surprise. Besides, Phoring is not about a teacher-student relationship, Phoring is actually a story about growing up. The teacher is just a catalyst who pushes Phoring out of his boundaries and then there are plausible turn of events.

Are you making a documentary on prof-rocker Bertie Da Silva?

Yes. I have started shooting it. What fascinated me about Bertie is his wait. As we all know, he didn’t sing publicly for 20 years. I think a true artiste needs to wait. Even I waited for 18 years to make my film but when I made it I made it with completely no interference. Bertie has seen Phoring and has liked it immensely, which is very inspiring.

Who else has seen the film?

Professor Shibaji Bandopadhyay (ex-JU professor) and he too had good things to say. Also, Anik Dutta, Arindam Sil, Roopa Ganguly and Atanu Ghosh have seen the film and loved it.

Tollywood is still stuck in the safe zone making either sleuth films or relationship tales. Are you a brave first-timer?

It’s not brave for me. I think we underestimate the audience. They are ready to accept experimentation, it’s we who need to be convinced. Look what Bhooter Bhobishyot or Shabdo did. They broke the myth that the audience don’t want to see new things. It’s time we break free from the same old pattern and try and make diametrically opposite films.

Will Phoring inspire other filmmakers to think differently?

That would be lovely. It will be my biggest reward. I know many who are armed with a great script but because they don’t want stars they don’t get financiers. I just hope one day they make their films and people make them superhits, irrespective of stars.

Kushali Nag

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