Interview: Konkona Sen Sharma talks about being a director, finding humanity through cinema, A Death In The Gunj and more

Konkona Sen Sharma says that cinema binds the people from all over the world. Here, she talks about A Death In The Gunj and her spooky experiences

Konkona Sen Sharma is brought up in a world which belongs to films. Having established herself as one of the most performance oriented actresses today, the Wake Up Sid star has set on a new journey. Her new film, A Death In The Gunj, is her debut feature directorial. Konkona, who has also written this film, says that this film is the story which is etched in her memory since childhood.

Talking to InUth during her Delhi visit, she opened up about many things. She talked about ‘her’ kind of filmmaking, the issues that interest her and why despite knowing almost everything about films, she is not self-sufficient. Excerpts:

You have directed this new film. It’s your debut feature film. A Death in The Gunj. What is so special about this film that you decided to direct it? You’re not in front of the camera this time.
Yes, too liberating that’s been, not being in front of the camera. It’s very specific time and place. It’s 1979 in McKluesic Gunj which was a remote corner in Bihar, now Jharkhand. It was a 10-hour drive from Kolkata. and my parents used to own a house in McKluseic Gunj where my grandparents used to live. So, they would go all the time on family vacations and family functions, family friends and things like that. I was very young at that time. I grew up her in all these family anecdotes and funny stories. ‘Remember when that happened, and he fell down…’ But, because it was remote and a quiet, sleepy little village, there were also some spooky and haunting stories. Stories that you know, give you the chills. This is one of those stories, which never left me.

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Do you feel actually inclined towards these spooky subjects because I remember you did an incredible job with Ek Thi Daayan?
I do. I am actually quite a scared person. I used to be worst earlier, but I am not so bad now. But I generally tend to get scared. There’s a part of my brain which likes these twisted kinds of stories.

Has there been any experience (spooky)?
No. Thank God.

Konkona, you created a storm outside with this film. It got released abroad at various film festivals and you also got recognition for the same. Did you see this coming? 
Not at all. I mean one can’t. You know what is with awards, it’s great if you get them. We are grateful and honored, privileged. But if you don’t get them, it’s okay, because so many deserving people don’t get awards. And so many undeserving people do. So, it’s okay.

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But, you tasted this kind of success from the beginning, Konkona.
No. The first film I did was a Bengali film while I was still in college called Ek Je Aachhe Kanya, which did well but it was not like on this level.

But, Mr and Mrs Iyer got such a big recognition.
Yeah. That’s true. Mr and Mrs Iyer changed my life. It was an English film and people all over saw it. Like it was just not a Bengali film.

What are the other issues, apart from gender equality, feminism, sexism that you strongly feel for?
See, when you say issues like that noe, I mean I know what you mean but the issue is not the point. I think for me, it’s to kind of record, to capture or demonstrate this kind of shared experience we have as human beings. To capture some kind of authentic human experience we all have. And that common humanity binds us all together, more than anything else that can divide us, which is why films from different parts of the world appeal to (people in) different parts of the world. People love Bollywood cinema abroad. We, over here, watch so much of cinema and TV shows from all over the world. That’s what brings us together. We should focus on things that bring us together because there are so many of us. We are going to be different from each other and I think we should accept that we are different from each other and that’s okay.

Also read: Watch interview: Blaming Bollywood is not the solution, says Kalki Koechlin on bringing gender equality in the film industry

When you direct a film, you have also written a film. And you have been acting in other films. Do you somewhere want to be that self-sufficient person who knows everything?
No. I didn’t act in my film that’s why. And I have an additional screenplay writer who has been given a due credit. I certainly don’t want to do everything on my own because it’s so wonderful to collaborate with interesting people. I mean that’s a joy, it’s a gift.

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