Thursday, April 25, 2013

Konkona Sen Sharma

“I’ve never been bothered about tags, definitions and images”

By Ankita R Kanabar

(This interview has been published in the April 20, 2013 issue of Super Cinema)

To be an actress of Hindi cinema, and essay roles that go beyond the regular song-dance-looking glamorous fare, and yet survive here for so long, is no small feat. But here we have Konkona Sen Sharma doing so, with utmost panache. She’s done a variety of roles in her career, but each one completely distinguished from the other, and roles that are so very strong and meaty. While apparently, these days box office numbers are the most important when it comes to judging a film, that’s not something she has bothered about, and yet received immense love from the audience, and carved a different niche for herself. Her next film, ‘Ek Thi Daayan’ shall see her in a new side, yet again. Amidst maddening promotional activities of the film, I get few minutes of peaceful conversation with the lady. Donning a simple, classy cotton saree, and looking as graceful as ever, she also displays a childlike glee as we speak about films, characters, motherhood, and about Konkona herself:

‘Ek Thi Daayan’ is your first supernatural thriller; that must be exciting?
Yes, I’m very excited. I saw it last night, I’m very happy. Because I’m doing a film, after a long break, after I had a baby. I think it’s nice and scary. I’m happy. I like horror films and thrillers, but I get scared very easily, so it’s not like I watch a lot of scary movies.

But you seem like this really strong woman…
I am very strong! I’m very strong morally, emotionally. I’m not a coward and all. But sometimes you know, paranormal stories and all if I think too much about it, I get freaked out (Laughs).

And after a long break, what made you do ‘Ek Thi Daayan’?
It’s a great character! You see, I’ve always done these characters that are very good, very earnest, very sweet, straight-forward, with not many shades of grey. But with this film, all the three women characters have grey shades, since we want to keep the suspense of who the ‘daayan’ is. So my character is quite grey too. And it is something I haven’t really done, so that’s what really excited me!

Lately, we’re seeing that the line between arthouse cinema and commercial cinema is fading away. But you’ve always been a part of niche films even when such films weren’t received that well…
Now a days, everyone is doing everything, which is great but that doesn’t bother me very much. It’s true that may be earlier, in the 70’s and 80’s, there was a very definite movement, and definite genres of films – traditional, mainstream, and alternative. Now the line has blurred. But I’ve always done films that I wanted to do because I’ve never been bothered about tags, definitions and images. Image and all is something outside of me, outside my control. It’s what other people think of me. It doesn’t matter. I want to do the kind of films that I find interesting. Then whatever image is made, it is made.

So, you’ve always been very sure about the kind of films you want to do, even before you were a part of films?
I don’t plan things or think about things. I don’t even know what I’m doing on the next weekend. I don’t really plan my life like that. I didn’t really set out to be an actor, that’s something which just happened to me, and I’m very grateful that it turned out the way it did. I don’t think you can take these things into account. It’s very hard to say because things never work out according to plans; you keep changing your mind. So, I just thought, let me do things which seem true to me, the choices that seem true to me. Those are the kinds of films I have done, and I like to do a wide variety of films. I don’t only want to do one kind of thing.

Despite doing the kind of films you have, is there still any genre that you think you haven’t explored and wish to? 
I haven’t done a biopic. I’d love to do a biopic. Because, when a film is based on a real person, there’s so much to it, there’s so much you can do. It’s not usually a flat characterisation, which makes it so interesting.

So when you read a script, what do you usually seek for? Or are you a method actor who goes thinking about how you would prepare for the role?
I’m not a method actor. Method acting is something very specific, and I don’t really follow a specific route. But when I read a script, I read it as a story to see how it touches me, or does it affect me at all. If it’s supposed to make me laugh or cry, and is it successful in doing what it sets out to do. If it touches me or touches the chord somewhere then it’s really nice and then those are the kinds of scripts that I like to do. And I like characters which have some movement, some evolution, some transition, some change, and some flaws. So, those are the characters which are interesting. There’s no solid criteria but these are some of the things. Then, you also look for a good rapport with the director, whether it’s a good producer. These are the kind of things I look for.

Seemingly, you haven’t really been deterred by the commercial viability of a film while doing it…  
I have done all kinds of films, but for me personally, it’s not important to do only what is popular, because what is popular is not necessarily what is good, or what is quality. Popular doesn’t ensure quality. Though sometimes, things which are good that also become popular, is the happiest combination. But, to do something only because it’s popular is not a good enough reason. So, you have to find other reasons, more artistic, more creative reasons, that satisfy you somewhere, and then you hope it becomes popular as well. And you know, even if it doesn’t, that’s okay, because there are things to be done. I’ve done a Bengali film, which speaks about the problems of villagers and the minor community, Maoists and the Government, and I think that’s very important. Those issues are important to me and 70% of the country. So, films like these may not be as popular as, may be ‘Mr. and Mrs. Iyer’ or something, but that’s okay.

When you do roles that are complex, and tough, don’t they drain you emotionally?
No, I don’t think it really drains me. You make a film for so long, by the end of it, you completely forget about it. Filmmaking is such fragmented process! It’s truly a post-mortem kind of a process because there are 100 people on the set and there’s so much to do. One day you’re shooting one minute of the beginning of the film, next day you’re doing one minute of the end of the film, and the whole day you hardly shoot for few minutes but you end up spending time in make-up, rehearsals and all that, the actual filming is so little. It’s a very unconscious thing with me. Even when I watch a film, if I like the film, or the main character, I start thinking like that person or becoming like that person for a few days. So, even if I’m reading a script which is really nice or even shooting a film, so from inside, unconsciously only I start behaving like that person. But once you’re done with the shooting and the dubbing, for a film that you’ve been doing for so long, you’re like finally it’s over now. It’s out of your system, at least for me.

Which means you’re one of those actors who can get detached from their characters easily?
I’m a very detached person. I do feel, detachment of everything is a very under-rated virtue and I like to be detached. I admire that. It provides objectivity and perspective. But I am emotional about people I’m close to. It’s not like I’m not an emotional person. Just that I try not to be sentimental. I’m moved easily, I’m touched easily by things, like when somebody does some gesture, words not so often, but by a book or something. So, I’m touched, but I like to be detached also. I do think it’s a great quality. And it’s something I work towards. It’s not like I’m just detached. I’ve worked towards it. May be I’m inherently like that, but I’ve also worked towards it.

It may be difficult to choose, but which one of your characters or films is really close to your heart?
Right now, it’s my mom’s film, ‘Goynar Baksho’ which has just released. It was a difficult role for me, because it was very different for me. It was a scared kind of a character. She was scared, quiet, meek, shy, accepting-of-patriarchy kind of a girl, which I totally wasn’t. But I also kind of try to understand her point of view. That character stayed with me, I really like her very much, unlike other characters I’ve played. And right now I’m super excited about it, since it’s releasing on the 26th, here in Mumbai.

Language has been no bar for you, literally, while choosing films…
Because language is not a bar actually, it’s just communication. Often, it’s non-verbal and it’s just about communication, in whatever language. If I’m able to communicate to the audience, it doesn’t matter. In our daily lives, we’re all multi-lingual. We speak in Hindi, Marathi, English, or I speak Bengali. It’s going to be like that in future you know, where the language of a film wouldn’t really matter.

So, you’re enjoying every little moment of this beautiful thing called ‘motherhood’?
Motherhood is awesome. It’s been amazing. You know the thing is, definitely my plate is full now. Sometimes it’s a bit of a struggle to balance everything but I do try manage. I’ve recently started working and I do try to spend time with him. I don’t work as much as I used to work before. But I’m waiting to do some interesting roles since I really enjoy working. And I think it’s important, especially for my son, to see an example of a strong woman who’s working, so that he can also appreciate and respect that when he grows older. 


  1. Awesome muvie.....ek thi dayan

    and konkana ji is in every roll

  2. Have not seen this movie but she has done justice to the roles she has done (of the few that I have seen)
    And I have never missed out on the articles by Mukul Sharma in the Illustrated Weekly of India.