Phoring / Dragonfly

The award-winning Bengali drama about a country boy nicknamed Phoring, who struggles daily with an alcoholic father, misunderstanding from his family and friends and with his awakening sexuality. His life changes with the arrival of a young and attractive teacher from Calcutta, to which he feels very attached. But soon he finds out that this nice and modern-minded woman is hiding an unpleasant secret.

Trailer with English subtitles.

2013 – 127 min – drama
Directed by: Indranil Roy Choudhury
Cast: Akash Adhikary, Sohini Sarkar, Sejuti Roy-Mukherjee
Language: Bengali, Hindi
Subtitles: Czech, English
Format: DCP

The Bengali region has long been one of the main centers of Indian culture and philosophy, a feature well noticed by British colonizers, who stereotypically regarded the Bengalis as a nation of intellectuals. In any case, the significant contribution of Bengali film-makers to the Indian cinema is undeniable – with for instance world renowned authors such as Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak or Mrinal Sen. Bengal is also the place of birth of socially realistic Parallel Cinema, a movement started in the late 50’s which openly defied mass entertainment flicks produced by the Mumbai studios.

Although today, the Bengali film industry doesn’t boast the same prestige it used to have over thirty years ago, it is still strongly oriented towards socially critical films based on an elliptic style and flowery dialogues (they are often stories adapted from the rich Bengali literature). Even Phoring presents on the second level a critical look at phenomena such as the social status of women, unemployment or left-wing radicalism, but at the forefront stands – quite uncharacteristically for a Bengali film – the growing up process of a little boy.

In the first part of the film, the main hero is primarily dealing with his awakening sexual desires that drag him towards the young teacher Doel. She takes interest in Phoring mainly because unlike other teachers, she perceives his admirable sense of curiosity and imagination. Their totally innocent relationship soon brings outrage among the teaching staff and villagers – in the conservative rural setting, a cosmopolitan and open-minded girl from the city simply becomes a cause of conflict.

In the second half of the film, Doel disappears under mysterious circumstances, and Phoring goes looking for her on his own to Calcutta. It is the beginning for him of a much tougher test, than that of dealing with his sexual instinct, because he is forced to take care of his own survival. He pretends to be an orphan in order to evoke pity and win the sympathy of people he meets. This part of the story contributes to remind us of much older Indian films, where the heroes were orphaned children trying to make a living in the suburbs of big cities.

Author: Miroslav Libicher

About the director

Indranil Roychowdhury studied Film Direction at FTII Pune, where he graduated in 1995. He then worked as a freelance writer /director in Kolkata from 1996 to 2000. Since 2000 he has been directing and producing TV commercials, corporate documentaries and television shows for Tropical Blue Entertainment. In 2008 he founded his own production company, Flipbook, which incidentally produced Phoring, Indranil’s first full length feature film.