'Women's sexuality has been unexplored in our films'
She is currently made redundant because of her big belly. Yes, Konkana Sen Sharma is expecting.
Though that happens mostly in the early months of next year, what she's currently energised about is the release of her coming film, Vinay Shukla's Mirch that is partly erotic but not even remotely vulgar, revolving around the under-estimated women libido.
Knowing her atypical choice of films coupled with the novel and uncultivated theme that Mirch presents, it could as well be the surprise and path-breaking hit of the year.
Here, the two-time National Award winner gets in an outspoken conversation with Ankur Pathak on her opinions about sexuality in films, her career-plans post the impending motherhood and why she's kept the wedding a diminutive affair. Excerpts:
Do you personally feel that audience in India is ready for an erotic comedy like Mirch'?
Eh, see it is not that erotic. Thematically yes it is, but it doesn't have a lot of adult scenes or it hasn't been handled in a very vulgar way. I mean the amount of sexuality one sees in Hindi films and the item numbers and things like that, I don't think, Mirch is beyond that. In fact it is not even that much.
So, what does the film exactly deal with?
It is not one story; there are four stories in it. In one of the story, there is this film-maker and his girlfriend who are narrating this script to a producer. The producer rejects it stating that only sex sells and he'll have to spice it a little more and make it saucy for the audiences to enjoy.
So, he goes back and comes with these four stories in which he has added the needed flavour and presents it to the producer. And these four narrations are shown in the film. All four are based across all ages. I'm in the two of them and Raima Sen features in the other two.
Image: A scene from Mirch
'Being morally right all the time is very boring'
But do you think families can come together and enjoy Mirch?
I really am not sure whether children can come and see but that again depends on the parents. If they allow them to watch shows like Bigg Boss and Emotional Attyachar , they might as well come and see Mirch.
What roles do you essay in two of the stories?
I play a Rajasthani queen in one of them in a very old era, maybe like 18th century since the time period isn't specified. I'm married to a much older man (Prem Chopra).
All the stories are linked thematically -- of women taking their sexual destinies in their own hand. It's a much unexplored genre since we've seen cinema dealing only with the male libido.
So, it talks about sexual liberation of women? Would you agree?
Eh, I wouldn't because when you use the term liberation, it immediately puts a moral connotation to it, whereas the film is not a moralistic story telling you what to do and what not to.
On the contrary, it is more like a fun story with lot of funny moments. I feel being morally right, all the time is very boring.
Image: A scene from Mirch
'There aren't really many love-making scenes'
Then, there aren't any sexual scenes?
There are but maybe like one or two. Since I am married to an older man, I am set to seduce a much younger man, since in those days you couldn't really send a dirty message. So, there aren't really many love-making scenes. The few there are have been aesthetically shot because the script is penned ingeniously.
What exactly made you agree to do such a film?
I found it extremely funny. See, firstly we pretend that women don't have a libido, and thus we've seen a lot of films dealing with male sexuality. So, I was immensely pleased that a film came to me dealing with women's libido and that too, in a funny way. I didn't find it cheap or vulgar as I wouldn't be a part of such a thing at all. The script was engaging and witty, and thus I agreed to do it.
And what do you've to say about director Vinay Shukla?
I also loved the way he made his earlier film Godmother and I was aware of his sensibilities as a film-maker. I know him as a person, as we met through a common friend (Shabana Azmi) I think he's got this amazing sense of what works and here as well, he's done a phenomenal job by tackling the entire women thing in a highly sophisticated yet funny manner.
Image: Konkona Sen Sharma
'No one wants to hire an actress with a belly'
Previously have you done films just because of sentimental reasons with the makers, barring your mother, Aparna Sen?
Barring my mom, I don't think so. My priorities have always been the content. And with mom, obviously I'm ought to do the film. Moreover, I don't remember that a lot of makers have approached me with a sentimental mentality.
Most of the time the character you play is very real, pragmatic and relatable, like Madhvi Sharma in Page 3, or Aisha in Wake up Sid, or even Shruti in Metro, is this a deliberate choice?
No. It is not that I go on and choose only such type of roles. But, maybe the makers feel, that I can pull of such realistic roles very convincingly. So, I don't think so it is deliberate on my part, I only look for the script that has to strongly appeal to me. Moreover, in the three films you mentioned, I totally admired the directors and the characters, they were great and so I went ahead with them.
Are you content with the way your career has shaped up?
Well, I feel so far, so good. I still look at it as a continuing journey, like work in progress. I hope I still get more interesting offers, so let us see.
So, we are going to see more of Koko, even after motherhood?
Yeah, of course, it is not that I've suddenly become handicap (laughs). I've not been 'not' working for such a long period, and I'm badly looking forward to doing work pretty soon. I cannot wait!
But you aren't shooting for any film right now?
I've been getting interesting scripts to read and I'm keen on a few, but shooting right now, of course not! No one wants to hire an actress with a belly but second half of the next year is when I plan to resume work.
Image: Konkona Sen Sharma
'I am an individual, I got married and there is nothing more to say about it'
Are you very superstitious as a person?
Sometimes, I can be and sometimes I forget. I've this childhood tendency that when I see one myna, it implies sorrow, and if you spot a couple, it signifies joy. It is totally ridiculous, and I don't know why I do it. (Laughs)
You've kept your marriage and impending motherhood a low-key affair, why is that?
I've never been the person who would talk much in detail about his or her private life. So, I don't think anybody has been really surprised. People get married all the time, everywhere. What is there to say and create hoopla out of it?
So you believe in keeping it close and personal...
Yes, I mean that is what comes naturally to me. I can't live my personal life as a public figure. I am an individual, I got married and there is nothing more to say about it. What is there to see anyway? I don't believe in having gala weddings et al. It's not me, not that I detest people who go gung-ho about their weddings (laughs). I think, it is a highly personal opinion. I can't sit and judge people on the way they choose to live their lives.
How open are you to expose on the big screen?
See, I'm not aware of your parameters of boldness, but I wouldn't subscribe to full-frontal nudity, ever. That should settle your query.
Back to Mirch, it has been showcased in a number of international film festivals; do you've this notion that fest films aren't exactly worshipped at the box office?
(Thinks) No. I think it is highly different for every film. Udaan did well even though it went to so many reputed festivals. Devdas, which went to Cannes, is a celebrated movie today so I cannot comment on how Mirch will work with the audience.
I do not know its box office fate because nobody can predict any film's fortune. I think we are in a business where you've to take both fame and criticism with a pinch of salt. I don't generally try to keep a track of box office figures. If my film does well, I'll be overwhelmed and if it doesn't it is highly unfortunate and that, without doubt, would be a disappointment for me.
Image: Ranvir Shorey and Konkona Sen Sharma