First Cut

Interview: Konkona Sen Sharma

Konkona Sen SharmaClad in a grey cotton saree Konkona Sen Sharma looks completely poised as she takes on questions about her forthcoming film ‘Ek Thi Daayan’. As we settle down for a quick chat in a dimly lit auditorium, Konkona talks about playing wicked for the first time and how it is to balance motherhood and acting.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. You are doing a Hindi film after a two-year break. Isn’t ‘Ek Thi Daayan’ an unusual choice?

A. From my point of view, it was very hard to say no to this film because the original short story was written by my dad (which was just a 3 page story, it’s the essence of the film) and also there is Vishal Bharadwaj. Which actress wouldn’t want to work with Vishal Bharadwaj? I have worked with him before and I really like his sensibility. And Balaji is producing this film; as far as scary movies are concerned they have done ‘Ragini MMS’ which has been quite successful in terms of horror. And then there is Huma, Kalki and Emraan. So I think altogether it was a great package.

Q. Horror as a genre has not really done well in Bollywood. Where you comfortable doing this film?

A. Ya, it’s true that horror in the past has been dominated by the Zee Horror Show or the Ramsay brothers and they have their own niché. This film is more of a supernatural thriller, it’s definitely a scary film but for me personally it was really nice to not play a do-gooder, a good earnest boring girl because I have only been playing that. So for me, to get a chance to be wicked was great fun,  it was uninhibiting and liberating.

Q. I know you want to maintain suspense because this is a thriller but tell us a little about your role in the film?

A. Well, you don’t have to be a daayan to be evil (laughs) Right? We have enough proof of that in our world. I can’t tell you whether I am a daayan or not because that would be no fun but Emraan’s character has to deal with evil in different manifestations and different levels. You can definitely say that there is a twist and it’s not a straight forward victim or a good girl.

Q. What were the challenges of doing this role?

A. Like I said, I haven’t done this kind of film before, I have not done a horror film…the thing is I want to answer in detail but I don’t want to give anything away. So I will suffice it to say this role for me was something different, something more twisted and more wicked than I normally do.

Q. Last year has been a great year for Hindi films and for women-centric roles. Do you think we are finally moving away from formulaic roles?

A. I think we get excited very quickly. I mean I loved ‘English Vinglish’ and I love Sridevi but ‘English Vinglish’ still needs a Sridevi to get made, it’s not like it’s just any unknown actor. I definitely think we do have more films like ‘Kahaani’, I think Vidya has done a lot for this cause, which is great. So I think it’s happening, it’s probably happening very slowly and also more than our actors or actresses, we are very heavily dependent on our star system because to get funding you need a star. That’s very unfortunate, kind of ‘Catch 22’ situation to be in.

Q. We know you have been very busy with the promotions of ‘Goynar Baksho’ but for your Hindi film fans what else is in store for the rest of 2013?

A. There is also another patriotic film that I have done, it’s called ‘Gaur Hari Dastaan’, it’s about Gaur Hari Das who was a freedom fighter and he is trying to get his papers from the government. He needs to prove that he was a freedom fighter but then he gets Alzheimer’s, so it’s a very touching story. It also stars Vinay Pathak, Ranvir Shourey. I play a much older character, which was quite a challenge for me.

Q. Any mainstream Bollywood film in the offing?

A. I have off-and-on done it but even in my career so far I have never been known to do mainstream films.

Q. What does it take to lure a Konkona Sen Sharma to do a mainstream Bollywood film?

A. It’s not about that. My sensibility is such that I automatically get drawn to films that have a good story, good characterization. Sometimes it has been a good match, sometimes it hasn’t. It’s not like I have anything against it, I just chose the kind of films that appeal to me, and mindless entertainers don’t often appeal to me.

Q. How difficult is it to juggle a toddler and your professional life?

A. It is quite hard. But you know I have had a great example of my mother, who has been a working mother and who has always made it look so easy. So I have had a great role model. Also, I realize that millions of women are doing it every day. So, initially, I was like this is really hard but I realize that you have to take it a day at a time, it is a challenge but millions of working women are mothers including my bai and she doesn’t have the resources that I do for childcare. So, I think hats off to all working moms, its hard but we can do it, we are strong.