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Chüzho Zhokhoi: From school drama to Bollywood

Morung Express News

Success and conquest are mostly tasted by those individuals who with their hard work and perseverance break all constraints and stereotypes to achieve their goals. People who get to experience the most extraordinary lives often come from past with the toughest of circumstances.

One such achiever from Nagaland who has made a mark in the Indian film industry with sheer hard work and determination is Chüzho Zhokhoi. 

Zhokhoi, belonging to Thipuzu village of Phek district, is an actor by profession and has Martial-arts background and National Gold Medalist.

Very recently, he has also launched a production called “BZ entertainment” with his friend Bokavi Swu (One of the founding members of Dreamz Unlimited).

In an exclusive conversation with The Morung Express, Chüzho Zhokhoi who was lately in news for his performance in Tollywood production titled ‘Saaho’ shares about his career, life and more. 


The Entry 

In the initial years of his career, Zhokhoi says whenever he was approached for any production- big or small, his response was always “This is it.” 

“It did not matter if monetary fee was involved or not. For my career, I was always prepared to face any kind of challenges and struggles and yes I did and I faced them. With the grace of God, today those challenges and struggles have turned into achievements,” he testifies. 

Armoured with passion and dream, the aspiring actor was in his early 20s when he was offered the first role in a movie. “I was offered a side negative role in the Nagamese movie titled ‘Dukhya Manu’ directed by Ajay Kumar back in 2001. I did it for free.” 

Zhokhoi has worked in many local productions including ‘Dukhya Manu,’ ‘Revenge,’ ‘Khushi Din,’ ‘My Brother Jack’, ‘Lichaba's Daughter,’ ‘Butterfly Life,’ ‘Tales of an orphan boy,’ ‘Nana (A tale of us),’ and  ‘Enter My World.’


The calling to acting 

Almost twenty two years back, as a young student, Zhokhoi was one of the participants representing his school, St Edmund School, Dimapur in the All Nagaland Private School’s Association (ANPSA) drama competition in 1997. 
He still remembers telling and promising himself that he would become an actor when he was in standard 7.

“I was one of the artists and our school won the competition. (Surprisingly, I still remember my lines as we have this conversation). The play titled ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ was directed by one of our teachers, Miss. Lima. That was when I realised that “if I am good at something than it is acting” and so I decided to make acting my career,” Zhokhoi recollects. 

In the Naga society where only a white-collar job is considered as a ‘career’, Zhokhoi says that he is grateful for the support he has received from his parents and family for his choice of career. He says that it is all because of the support especially his mother and wife (Azi), he has made this far. 

“There were times I would fall into depression and frustration but my wife was always there to encourage me giving hope and faith. That is all a person need to get back on their feet,” he states with a thankful heart. 


Bollywood episode  

In a previous interview with The Morung Express, Zhokhoi shared that “the journey has been a tough and long one specially getting a break in Bollywood films and yet, according to him, the challenges have made him stronger and tougher.”

Narrating about his introduction to Bollywood industry, Zhokhoi says that after attending an intensive drama workshop for 45 days organised by National School of Drama (NSD), New Delhi in collaboration with NEZCC, Dimapur in 2008, he I got an opportunity to teach in NSD New Delhi as a Martial Arts teacher with the blessings of Prof. Robin Das.

It may be added here that Zhokhoi earned his black belt 1st and 2nd degree from Thaikick Boxing and Wushu Martial Arts. He also won national gold medal in 10th National Thaikick Boxing Championships.

“After my contract with NSD was over, I decided to go to Mumbai to try my luck in Bollywood,” he added. After having gone through several auditions Zhokhoi got a chance in Bollywood. And today he has worked in few Bollywood productions such as ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshi,’ ‘Force-2,’ ‘Bose,’ ‘Death/Alive,’ ‘Nani Teri Morni,’ ‘Happy Pheer Bhag Jaygee,’ and ‘Little Boy.’ 


Tollywood episode 

Sharing about his experience working in the South Indian film production (Tollywood), Zhokhoi assumed it would be similar to his previous experience. 

Zhokhoi featured in the multi-lingual action thriller film “Saaho” which was released worldwide simultaneously in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu on August 30, 2019. He essayed the role as the gang leader of “Octopus Gang,” one of the bad guy gang in the movie.

Unlike his assumption, the actor said he found the “Saaho” production team more “sensible and systematic”. “The hospitality and treatment, I would say, was one of the best so far,” he adds. 


Skills and challenges 

In order to develop his acting skills, Zhokhoi says he would do mimics and over the years the practice has helped sharpen his acting ability. “When we try to imitate someone, we transform ourselves into that character. To become a good actor, we have to be able to enter into another character and engage with an audience,” he stated adding that “good understanding of dramatic techniques” also appends to the advantage of an actor. 

As an actor, one of the greatest challenges for Zhokhoi is ‘diet.’ “When I get a role where I have to lose weight, my life stops there! But of course, it is important to maintain balance diet to stay fit and healthy.” 


Film industry in Nagaland 

Commenting on the film industry in Nagaland, Zhokhoi lamented that we still depend on selling DVDs which is already outdated. He pointed out that Nagaland needs to improve especially in the technical aspects of the production to make it marketable in the theaters. 

“If not in India, we can at least cover the theatres in North East, get our own satellite channel, start engaging the local talents and develop our movie industry,” he suggested. 


The ultimate dream 

Stating that there is so much unpredictability in the film industry, Zhokhoi said “it is hard to tell what will happen next to the fate of an artist. I want to end well and big and I am ready to work harder in Bollywood and Tollywood industries but more than that, I wish to build a bridge between Nagaland movie industry and the other Indian film industries.”

In conclusion, the actor says that one should remember the words “I am possible” and “to achieve something in life, we need to be patient, prepared and positive.”


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