Exclusive: Rohini on debutants and the pros, cons of streaming platforms

Y.Sunita Chowdhary

The trailer of Addham (an anthology) winds up with a thud, a crack on the mirror. Is there a betrayal, a shock or a let-down that creates fissures in the relationships? One is called a Lorry Story and as a lorry hits someone, Rohini appears distraught. She says in the Nellore dialect, “When he is asleep I wanted to throw a stone at him and kill him.” Was that line about the man who troubled her and has had an accident? She doesn’t tell. “Connect is this the theme, what you think is right is not sometimes right, life reveals many aspects and springs surprises at you. Here there are layers that spring surprises. It is a short story and there is a punch line,” is only what she reveals.

What did she do during the lockdown and did she make best use of it? “There was an opportunity to read and write a lot. I had written many Tamil and Telugu stories, this pandemic has given us a breather to our otherwise busy lives to gauge the situation. If we eliminate the fear factor, people will flock theatres. Going to a cinema collectively is a beautiful experience. Life has changed a lot, and we are taking many things into account. Going to a neighbour’s house is not done these days, no interaction with them.”

We learn, Rohini had followed all the guidelines mentioned by the government and shot for the web series written by Siva Ananth and directed by Sarjun. What are her thoughts on the streaming platforms? “The high you get while watching a film in a theatre is different. We get totally engrossed into the character without any distraction while in a theatre. I don’t accept television serials, I get worried that it might get diluted. Also I never got great opportunities on television to have tried anything. OTT is another platform, it is not as if you go clueless, if it isn’t available. It can never replace the magic of the big screen but it gives a chance to reach many people across the world. There will be certain subjects that are not meant to be watched on a big screen, you can do it here. This anthology or the short story I am doing is something we won’t attempt on the big screen in Telugu in coming years. The kind of stories we handle on OTT platform gives a lot of freedom and that is exciting,” she says.

Did she get to listen to many stories during the lockdown, especially from newcomers and short filmmakers? Yes she did but she is not too impressed. The honestly speaking actor shares, “There are many wannabes coming to narrate stories. Only when I find something really interesting I will do it but unfortunately I didn’t get anything worth taking up. I would point out areas where I am not comfortable doing it and would ask them why they didn’t look into it. There is so much potential on this platform and many short filmmakers are indeed approaching just not me but others too but what I noticed was that they don’t have any prior experience in film making and have tried it on their own. There were people who came like that, Kartik Subbaraj is one such example but not all can be like him. When we listen to the story for a few minutes, we can gauge a little bit if that works or not.

Rohini further says there was minute detailing and care taken during the shoot too. It was a little more intense because of the women who were the producers. “If homework is done well, surprises can be handled but there were no surprises on the set at all. We were very sure about everything and any minute crease was ironed out. Sarjun was asking JP to practise driving the lorry for a week before the shoot begins. This ensures there is no wasting of time and not exposing people to adverse consequences etc. For other films too, a lot of care is being taken,” she signs off.

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