Sheena Chohan moving on up
After triumphing as a beauty queen, Sheena Chohanís cinematic star continues to rise with Bangladeshi comedy-drama Ant Story
HAVING DEBUTED OPPOSITE Malayalam film icon Mammooty in 2011’s The Train, Indian model-actress Sheena Chohan is expanding her CV with a starring role in the Bangladeshi movie Pipra Bidya (Ant Story).
Directed by Mostafa Sarwar Farooki, one of Bangladesh’s foremost upcoming filmmakers whose 2012 effort Television was screened at film festivals from Gothenburg to Sydney, the tale follows young Mithu as he strives to get ahead in the urban madness of Dhaka through fantasy and fakery.
Sheena is already known to the nation’s cricket fans as the face of the Bangladesh Premier League – having previously picked up the Lakme Miss Kolkata title as well as an honour at the Miss Universe India – I Am She ceremony in 2010, where she was mentored by Miss Universe 1994, Sushmita Sen.
Ant Story, Sheena’s first film outside of her homeland, screened at the Dubai International Film Festival on Sunday and Tuesday as part of the Muhr AsiaAfrica Feature segment. Sheena attended the fest, and sat down with City Times at the Mina A’ Salam hotel to talk about her blossoming career.
How easy did you find it to pick up the Bangla language for your role as Bangladeshi actress Rima in Ant Story?
I’m Bengali-Punjabi so I know the language a little bit. But the Bangladeshi language is a little different, so I had to learn the dialect with a coach. I worked hard at it and my director was the magician.
Are you hoping to enter Bollywood at all?
Why not? I’ve always been very passionate about acting, it’s been my dream since I was a child and I did a lot of theatre at school. After winning Miss Kolkata, I did more theatre in Delhi with the guru Arvind Gaur, then I shifted to Mumbai and enrolled myself in an acting school there.
Is there a set path to Bollywood and beyond, or are you happy to let your career route decide itself?
I’m just looking for good directors, good scripts and good roles. Language doesn’t matter, country doesn’t matter. I really believe that cinema is universal and it breaks barriers, which is why we’re here at DIFF today.
How have you enjoyed your time in Bangladesh for both your movie and cricket commitments?
It has been like a home away from home for me, and it never felt like I was in another country. I was so comfortable and it was so hospitable.
What do you think is the central theme of Ant Story?
It’s about how we complicate our lives and how we forget that simplicity is at the core of who we are and what we do. It’s about how Mithu and Rima’s paths intercross, and the traps they get into because of their actions.
Which directors would you ideally like to work with?
I really like Dibakar Banerjee, and one of my favourite directors is Shekhar Kapur. I love his films from Mr. India to Elizabeth, and it would be a dream to work with him.
Has your time competing in pageants helped you in your acting career to date?
Miss Universe India gave me a lot of confidence to present myself and my country. You are trained in how to speak and how to present yourself, and I was very lucky that I received that training from the best of the best, Sushmita Sen. That confidence becomes a part of you and you take it with you into whatever you do – be it a lawyer, a doctor or an actor.