How does it feel to be back in Bangladesh?
It feels fantastic and it is really wonderful to receive such appreciation and love from everyone, especially the fans. The warm hospitality that I have been getting since the first BPL and every time after, is very inspiring as an artiste; it is a bond like no other. They started referring to me as the “BPL girl,” and from then on, the journey has been beautiful.
What do you love about Bangladesh most?
There are three things that I love most about Bangladesh. First, the people of this country are like no other. The amount of warmth they hold in their hearts is extraordinary, and I am saying this from the bottom of my heart. I have travelled all over the world, and I just returned from the US, but there is something about the people of Bangladesh that really sets them apart from everyone else. The warm hospitality and the way they embrace me as an artiste is very encouraging. I am thankful to the Bangladesh Premier League since it is through BPL that I have been able to connect with the people here.
Second to that is, of course cricket, for obvious reasons. Third would be the arts and culture of the country. Working in (Mostofa Sarwar) Farooki's film, Pipra Bidya (Ant Story) was also a very strong connect to the industry in Bangladesh.
Working so close with the cricket scene, have you notice any changes over the years?
I think there has been huge improvement as far as the level of cricket in BPL is concerned, with so many young talents emerging through this platform. Also that, ever since it has started it has grown to become much more than a tournament, a festival, if you will. I was crossing the road the other day when I noticed that every shop had a television and a number of people glued to the screen when BPL was on. I was astounded by the sheer amount of love for cricket and BPL that has wonderfully grown over the years. It is amazing to see this now and reflect on the first edition when it was a mere baby, to scale the growth.
What keeps you busy these days?
I may come across as an actor and presenter first, but I am also a humanitarian. I work with an organisation named Youth for Human Rights and I am currently their ambassador for South Asia. I have set myself a goal before arriving this time, that I wish to raise awareness regarding the 30 basic human rights everyone is entitled to as declared by the UN. More importantly, I wish to concentrate on stopping the violations of said rights because I believe that if the youth take on the responsibility in our own sphere and do our bit, we can create a lot of changes in society. For instance, it is possible for the youth to stop child labour, human trafficking, inequality, eliminate discrimination while raising awareness even if it is something as simple as giving them the knowledge that they are born free, or that they are innocent until they are proven guilty, which would allow them to stop such violations and in turn, empower them and contribute in making a fair and just society.
On my trip this time, I met the Human Rights Bangladeshi team here who are working at grassroot levels and in universities and I asked them what I can do to help with their cause to raise awareness. So I decided to get a lot of actors, singers and performers together whom I have met through BPL and while shooting my film. We asked them to make an informative video where they talk about human rights and their importance on social media. We've hit up universities where we talked about raising awareness and it has been great since I am getting to do something that I really care for.
Any new Sheena Chohan films in the pipeline?
I am going back to finish shooting a film titled Krishnogohobor, directed by Ayan Chatterjee, where I am playing a scientist as a lead character in a story that has a lot of drama in it. While I will greatly miss Bangladesh, I am also excited to go back to acting, which I believe is my first passion.
How was it like shooting for Pipra Bidya?
I am grateful towards Mostofa Sarwar Farooki for thinking of me when casting for Rima, my character in the film, who was an actress. It was a challenging role that required a lot of effort but it breezed by since both Farooki and Tisha were extremely cooperative all throughout the process of shooting. It is the genius of Farooki that he managed to bring out the character from me in a very organic and spontaneous manner. I have worked with national award winning directors but never anyone quite like him; he has got a very different, instinctive approach towards film-making which brings out more creativity. The film was nominated as the Best Film and I was nominated as the Best Actress in multiple reputed international film festivals all over the world.
As for the industry, there have been massive improvements in terms of quality of films, with extremely talented makers whose works are being well received internationally, and which makes me eager to work more here. If I come across a good script, you never know!
If you were to chose a team to support in a match between India and Bangladesh, you would choose...
Good cricket. (chuckles) It's really hard to choose because I love both the nations. It's like choosing between your parents!