How does one describe Konkona Sen Sharma? When she broke into India's so-called parallel cinema universe, she brought with her a sense of disarming effervescence. She was the plucky Mrs Iyer in Mr & Mrs Iyer, a woman who knew her mind, a woman who was incredibly comfortable in her skin. But when she chose to be a Dharma heroine, she was sassy and vulnerable at the same time in Wake up Sid.
It would be safe to say that Konkona Sen Sharma, who has inherited the incredible film legacy of the Dasgupta family (her grandfather Chidanananda Dasgupta was a film scholar of great repute and her mother Aparna Sen is still one of the most respected filmmakers of the country), was clearly born to be a filmmaker. Which is probably why, she tackles even the most volatile issue with the calm, practical voice of a rationalist. Her latest acting assignment was the controversial Lipstick Under My Burkha may have had a run in with CBFC, but Konkona Sen Sharma has a very interesting take on the Pahlaj Nihalani inc. In an exclusive interview with ScoopWhoop News, Konkona tells us about the her recent win at the New York Film Festival, her directorial debut and the many struggles of making a 'lady-oriented' film.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Q. Tell us about you big win at the New York Indian Film Festival. You bagged two awards there.
A. I am quite excited. This was quite unbelievable. It was the first time that I have bagged two awards at the same event. Best Actress for one and Best Filmmaker in another. Earlier, I have had the privilege of being nominated for a film that I have acted in. But the other award was for my directorial debut and I can't explain how excited and blessed I feel to receive this honour for my debut film as a filmmaker.
Q. So now you have all your energies focused towards getting 'Death in a Gunj' a smooth release in India. Tell us more about the film, something besides what we already know from the trailer of the film.
A. It's a drama. A film about family vacationing in the 1970's in a hamlet called McCluskieganj in Jharkhand. The location plays a pivotal role as it has something very mysterious about it. We don't have a release date yet, but sometime this year for sure. Earlier it was hard to release smaller films which didn't have the budget or an A-list starcast in it.
Q. As a filmmaker are you concerned about the way our censor board functions? Are you not worried that your story-telling ways will change because you have a norm to adhere to?
A. I am concerned about the future of Indian cinema. We have to be more progressive, tolerant. We have to acknowledge diversity. I personally feel, we should just make films the way we want and let adults decide if they want to watch it or not.
Q. There are talks of CBFC banning the portrayal of violence against women in films. Apparently they are contemplating that any scene where a woman is shown as physically abused will not be allowed. Your thoughts on it?
A. I feel that besides being regressive, CBFC is also being myopic. To understand how a misogynistic society works, one has to really get to the roots. We need to understand what causes this kind behaviour. I can't even really believe this that they are contemplating such thing. But then again, I am not surprised.
Q. You were once looked upon as the quintessential art-house cinema actor. Don't you think the line between art and commercial cinema is blurred today?
A. There's always scope for stories. The future of cinema depends on us. It's like what we want to see, what we want to make, what we want to give money to.The ball is literally in our court. What we support will thrive and what we patronise will obviously meet its end.
Q. Tell us about the shooting process.
The film was shot at a stretch of 31 days. We were staying in Ranchi and would daily have to travel by road for 3 hours to reach the location. There is something very raw about the place. It's untouched and beautiful. To recreate the past, you know like a sleepy and magical remote town, became easier in a place like Mclucksiegunj.
Q. Anything that you see in Bollywood films that has left you appalled?
A. There are so many films, but I don't want to take names here. But what leaves me appalled is the mind-set. The way we make fun of homosexuality. The way we endorse fairness creams and of course, the way we portray our women. Some of it is more subtle than the others but at the end of it all of this is dangerous to our society. These things add up.