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Athhoi: I am not as innocent as Desdemona, says Sohini Sarkar
Image by Avishek Mitra/IBNS

Athhoi: I am not as innocent as Desdemona, says Sohini Sarkar

| @indiablooms | 10 Jun 2024, 03:16 pm

After playing Lady Macbeth in web series Mandaar, actress Sohini Sarkar features as Desdemona in Arna Mukhopadhyay's cinematic adaptation of William Shakespeare's Othello- titled Athhoi- slated for June 14 release. IBNS correspondent Souvik Ghosh speaks to Sohini about the film and more...

Q. You have played Lady Macbeth in Mandaar and now Desdemona in Athhoi. Do you feel that you have emerged as a Shakespearean leading lady?

A. It would have been great to be a Shakespearean lady considering the kind of characters he has crafted. We have been discussing it a lot during promotions. I have always wondered why so much is talked about Shakespearean dramas. I didn't read Shakespeare growing up because it was not in my school syllabus. But I read it for my work. Even in the age of development and technological advancement, people are still dwelling in power struggle, hate, envy and that makes Shakespearean dramas still so relevant.

Arna Mukhopadhyay as Othello and Sohini Sarkar as Desdemona in Athhoi | Photo courtesy: Screenshot grabArna Mukhopadhyay as Othello and Sohini Sarkar as Desdemona in Athhoi | Photo courtesy: Screenshot grab

Q. You have played period characters previously like Satyabati. How are Shakespearean women characters different from the others?

A. I feel Shakespeare has worked more on the soul and inner world of a person. I think most people feel the same. And this is why Shakespearean dramas are so relevant in every era. His works are relatable, not a cult which is beyond reach. I read Pather Panchali in my childhood. I loved the world of Apu and Durga and tried to emulate it in my life. But it was not my inner world. In Pather Panchali, virtue has been celebrated unlike in Shakespearean dramas where darkness, hate, lust prevail.

Q. Which type of period characters interest you more?

A. We all have innate darkness but we shouldn't indulge it. Having said that, we can't completely erase them but can always have control. We have to indulge in our virtues rather than darker sides to live in this world.

Q. Was there anything you could connect to Desdemona?

A. Firstly, I am not as innocent as Desdemona. Secondly, Diya Mona Mukherjee- the character inspired by Desdemona- is one such woman, who leaves her own life, career and choices and accepts the ones of her partner, Athhoi. I am not that kind of a person. I believe in my belief and ideology. I respect my partner's ideology but not at the cost of my own identity.

Image by Avishek Mitra/IBNSImage by Avishek Mitra/IBNS

Q. Suchitra Sen had played Desdemona in a famous Othello scene in Saptapadi. Was that your reference point to any extent?

A. No, it was not my reference point because I was already into the Athhoi play. I have been a part of 6 out 48 shows. I had gone through an extensive rehearsal which prepared me for the character, Diya Mona Mukherjee. I didn't need to refer to Suchitra Sen's scene as an added effort.

Q. You always wanted to be a part of commercial, mainstream films but now you are known for meaty, crafted roles on-screen. How does this irony seem to you?

A. We have no hold on our journeys, actually. My existing philosophy about people, life and films may alter with time. The graph of our thoughts change with time. I have always been a fan of commercial cinema. Govinda's films are still my favourite. I am a big fan of comedy films. I used to watch whichever film was telecast over the weekends on television channels, which were limited when I was in my childhood.

But my first film- Phoring- led me to a stereotype. The first film is very important in defining the kind of roles an actor is offered over the years. Moreover, commercial films were on the decline when I started working. I have no regrets. I was not meant to do Phoring. The makers had almost signed up a very popular actress but couldn't cast her for certain budget issues. As a result, I slipped into the role as the makers were in search of someone new.

Q. How do you balance the effort to not get stereotyped and opting for a role like Diya Mona Mukherjee which could be repetitive but equally worthy?

A. I can't give it a miss as such opportunities seldom come our way. I have been lucky to be roped in for such strong women characters in consecutive projects across the genre and media. I have restricted myself when I had nothing new to offer to a particular kind of a character. Since I have always played women with virtues, I wanted to play a negative character like Lady Macbeth. Having said that, it is impossible for me to let go of films like Athhoi.

Q. We have come across the word 'troll' in the teaser. Do you handle trolls better now?

A. Going by the current scenario, both the trollers and myself forget such things fast. It's not long lasting. Moreover, there is no mass protest against the culture of trolls. People have forgotten the scamsters in West Bengal, who would remember me? So no one cares. 

(Images by Avishek Mitra/IBNS)

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