An evening with Tonthoi

By Rorrkychand *

Leishangthem Tonthoingambi Devi (stage name, Thonthoi


In an interview with Hueiyen Lanpao, Manipuri actor Leishangthem Tonthoingambi Devi (stage name, Thonthoi), who won the national award for Best Supporting Role in 'Phijigee Mani' in 2011), reveals her journey to stardom and many more hush-hush about herself to Rorrkychand.

Here is an excerpt of the interview...

Rorrky: When I talk to your mother, she told me that your obstinacy made you a star. Is it true?
Tonthoi: Really, (Smile), my parents' aspiration is to make all of us educated and settled in life independently. Contrary to that, I was very interested in art and culture since my childhood. So, my parents, especially my mother (L (O) Leibaklei Devi) is against all such activities. Inspite of that I stealthily completed a dance diploma course in J N Dance Academy, and later participated in Miss Manipur and DAWN (2006). The DAWN Actress title paves my way to stardom.

Rorrky: But how do you manage to attend all these classes and competitions against your mother's wishes?
Tonthoi: Well, while I was in my sister's house at New Checkon for my graduation in DM College, one of my brothers, Homendro informed me about DAWN. Even though I wish to participate and was preparing mentally, I was not able to decide. After some days, I called up my father (L Ibungomacha Singh) informing that there is an acting competition and I want to participate in it and need some guidance from him. My father, who is also a singer and an art lover agreed. So, I joined the contest and luckily won the title.

Rorrky: Any acting class or training session before entering into film industry?
Tonthoi: Not really, after DAWN, Tamo Bishwamitra of Bright Films offered me a film. The truth is that, I was ignorant about even the basic terms of filming. What I know at that time was to stand in front of the camera and act according to director's instruction. Following the film, which did not do well in the box office, I decided to make a comeback after having some knowledge of acting and filming.

Rorrky: Recently, I watch your national award winning film, 'Phijigee Mani'. In it, your look and performance is so natural and fantastic. Is it a breakthrough?
Tonthoi: Simplicity is one of my inseparable characters and probably an attribute that I always wanted to be with me. My character in the film is something that appealed to me.

Thonthoi receiving the FAM award

Thonthoi receiving the FAM award

Rorrky: Some section of the society seems to consider that morale among the film fraternities is lousy. As an actor, how do you observe?
Tointhoi: In our state, blaming on women for all bad accounts is common. However, time has changed and people are supporting Manipur film industry and people who are working in it. We should always bear in mind that real life and filmy world could not go altogether; both are separate entities. So, it will be wrong to judge or perceive the character of an actor through his/her on-screen portrayal.

Rorrky: You have done more than 13 films, what is your key to success in a film?
Tonthoi: I had never thought about making my film famous. My focus is on the character and I try to get into the skin of the character. Success of a film entirely depends on the dedication and efforts by other crewmembers as well. Performances given by the artistes and proper synchronization of the whole works are important to make it a success.

Rorrky: How do you okay an offer and its script?
Tonthoi: I am little bit choosy, particularly on this part. Reviewing of the script thoroughly, looking into the versatility of the particular character I am going to play, how much I can contribute in it and how far I have to work on it, all these considerations are pivotal for me to select a script.

Rorrky: Offer from any other Indian film industries?
Tonthoi: A few are there but will need some time to make it official.

Rorrky: How do you see the working condition of artistes, infrastructure, technology, budget and fees in Manipuri film industry?
Tonthoi: It's a common knowledge to all what is the working condition of artistes especially silver-screen. We are deprived of better infrastructure, budget, market and technologies. In spite of less fees and other facilities, we are working in the industry only because of our interest in the "aesthetic value of the art." My suggestion to all the new comers in the industry is, "Please do come after knowing what is acting."

Rorrky: It seems that you are also better known for ghost roles.
Tonthoi: (Smile) Even some children from neighborhood are still calling me as nene (aunty) Thoicha because of my performances in some supernatural movies mainly 'Thoicha' and 'Sakhenba Bhoot'.

Rorrky: I heard that you speak Kuki and Burmese, how many languages do you speak?
Tonthoi: Being a Manipuri and a Hindi graduate, I speak Meeteilon, Hindi, English and I got an opportunity to learn other languages during the making of 'Nungshibi Kabow Valley'. For this film, I learned Burmese and Kuki languages and speak a bit.

Rorrky: Is it true that apart from acting you are also a sportsperson and a percussionist?
Tonthoi: Since childhood, I always accompanied our neighboring brothers when they go out for playing football and other sports. Moreover, while studying in DM College, I participated in inter-university women football in Kolkata representing Manipur University. I also learned Pena while I was in J N Dance College for my dance class.

* Rorrkychand conducted this interview and published at Huieyen Lanpao (English Edition)
This article was webcasted on September 21, 2012


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