In conversation with Konkona

Apr 29, 2015, 11:32 IST




Konkona Sen Sharma is one actress who has never been able to be stereotyped. She has always gone against the trend as far as choosing roles is concerned. Take her portarayal of an interpid reporter in Madhur Bhandarkar's Page 3 or that of a writer in search of her identity in Wake Up Sid or her turn as a troubled teenager in Subrata Sen's Ek Je Achhe Kanya (2000), a Bengali production. The list of course doesn't end here - she delivered one stellar performance after another in films such as National Award-winning Mr & Mrs Iyer, Omkara, Rituparno Ghosh's Dosar, Vishal Bhardwaj's Ek thi Daayan and other acclaimed offbeat and mainstream films over the past 15 years or so.

She will be playing a 60-year-old woman in Ananth Mahadevan’s Gaur Hari Dastaan, a film about freedom fighter Gaur Hari. Playing a sexagenarian would be a daunting proposition for many actresses in their 30s in the Indian film industry. But not for Konkona.

What's more, she will be essaying the role of a Muslim woman who has a double life in Prakash Jha Productions’ Lipstick Waale Sapne, directed by Alankrita Shrivastava. Then there is Meghna Gulzar's Nyodda, which is apparently based on the Aarushi murder case. She continues to do meaty roles in Bengali films. Her performance in Sajarur Kaanta, a recent Byomkesh Bakshi whodunnit in Tollywood, was widely appreciated. Kadambari, where Konkona plays Kadambari Devi, Rabindranath Tagore's sister-in-law, will be releasing soon.

"I liked the character of Deepa Bhatta in Sajarur Kaanta where we get an older Byomkesh who lives in our times," says Konkona. "Deepa is a theatre actress who is a question mark herself. You cannot make up your mind about her - is she an accomplice or a perpetrator of a crime?"

So, what's her take on Dibakar Banerjee's Byomkesh Bakshy! as the Bengali audience seems to be divided on the Bollywood film's attempt at repatterning the quintessentially Bengali sleuth? "When we started filming Sajarur Kaanta, we didn't know that so many films on Byomkesh Bakshi would release at the same time. But this is not new. A few years ago, a couple of films on Bhagat Singh released close to each other. And I don't know why anyone should object to Dibakar's Byomkesh - it's his intepretation," says Konkona.



The thinking actress will soon be directing a film herself. "The working title is Death in a Gunj. It's set in 1979. I have finished writing the story. It's now with the Script Lab (NFDC). Now I will be looking for funding," reveals Konkona. Apparently, it will be a dark film.

So, will her style of filmmaking be radically different from her mother Aparna Sen's? "I can't define my kind of filmmaking. My film will of course bear the imprint of my own sensibilities," stresses Konkona. "In any case, this film is going to be in the indie space - it's not going to be a mainstream film. So expect something unconventional. I have always been that - against the grain."

But how big is the space for indie films in Bollywood or the Indian film industry for that matter? "Anup Singh's Quissa released in just one hall in Kolkata, for one week with one 4'o clock show per day. How many people could watch it because of such constraints? What's the point in making offbeat films if people don't watch it," says Konkona. "I think you need big star producers such as Karan Johar or Kiran Rao attached to films made in this space. Efforts have to be made to get distributors and bring people to theatres to watch such films. No mafia system will do. It's very tough for these films to get a foothold."

Her five-year-old son, Haroon, is a bundle of joy. "He visits me on the sets," says Konkona fondly. "It's tough being a working mother. Most women have to work or like to work. I like to work. It's a great example for my son - seeing a strong, independent working woman as a role model."

Needless to say, Konkona is indeed a role model for many, many women across India today.