'I have changed and matured.'
'There is still a certain kind of detachment but I have far more appreciation and gratitude.'
Konkona Sensharma seems keen on exploring opportunities in the digital space because she feels not all stories can be told on the big screen.
Her new short film, A Monsoon Date, is streaming on Eros Now. Directed by Tanuja Chandra and written by Gazal Dhaliwal, it talks about love and acceptance.
Konkona looks back at her long career and tells Rediff.com Contributor Mohnish Singh, "I think I am a nicer person today, more patient than I was 15 years ago."
How did A Monsoon Date happen to you?
Tanuja Chandra offered me this role and I really like her. She’s so talented and has so much warmth as a person.
The script also drew me in; it’s an unusual story.
It’s about people you don't normally see on screen, so that really excited me.
I was excited to be a part of A Monsoon Date, to work with Tanuja as well as (scriptwriter) Gazal Dhaliwal.
Do you think after the Supreme Court decriminalised Article 377, things will change for the LGBTQ community?
I hope so.
But the change depends on us as individuals because all kinds of laws have existed.
We still have old and draconian and archaic laws from the British era.
There was a time when it was unlawful for women to vote, there was a time where it was lawful to have slavery.
There have been times where injustice has been done under the guise of law.
So, as citizens, we have to see what is important and make our voices heard, what we think the law should be, whether the law adequately represents us and are the laws providing justice to everyone equally.
A lot of times, citizens are only concerned about themselves and you have the majority views on what’s okay and what’s not.
So minorities like Muslims or Christians or homosexuals or transgender people are often marginalised and their voices are not heard.
We have distinguished ourselves from the animal kingdom.
We do not only look out for ourselves but we also look out for the people among us who may not have a voice or who may be weak.
When somebody approaches you for a role, what do you look for?
If it’s an established director, there is obviously no question because you would like to work with such people.
When you don't know much about the person, like you don't know his previous work or he’s done one thing which may not have been so successful... it does not mean he won't do good work in future.
A lot depends on the director’s personality, what kind of person he is and how much can I relate to him.
If I find it easy to communicate with that person or if I like what he has to say through the film, I am open to that film.
Or if I really liked the script.
What have you learnt over the years?
I have learnt a lot about myself.
When I started off 15 years ago, I really did not take acting very seriously because I did not want to be an actor.
So I didn't really care, which can be a good and a bad thing.
It’s good because it puts you at a certain ease and gives you a certain detachment.
At the same time, I don't think I really value what I had -- I didn't have any appreciation for the kinds of roles I was getting.
And I was getting a lot of roles, a lot of work; I was very easily accepted.
It was very easy for me to move to Bombay.
I thought let’s try out Bombay, I’ll do a few years and then leave.
I didn't have any fixed plans anyway.
In that also, I have changed and matured.
There is still a certain kind of detachment but I have far more appreciation and gratitude.
Also, generally, I think I am a nicer person today, more patient than I was 15 years ago.
I have never been an ambitious kind of a person, especially professionally.
I just drifted along.
Which of your films do you think have been career-defining for you?
One was definitely Page 3 because it started off very well for me.
Many people really enjoyed it.
Mr And Mrs Iyer, because I won a National Award for it. I don't think too many people were aware of me before that.
Once I got the National Award, people started offering me work.
Also, Life... In A Metro. A lot of people have a lot of love for that movie.
Does the director in you come out when you act in other filmmakers' movies?
No, no, I don't think there is a director in me all the time.
Early on in my acting career, I understood that I have to detach a little bit because, in my first three films, I made myself so miserable!
I was like, ‘Why are they doing this like this? Why am I just like this? Why is this character's room looking like this? Why have we taken this decision?’
I realised, I think with some experience, that it's okay.
Let them do their job how they want to and let me do my job well.
I developed this early, which was very useful because you cannot constantly tell people what to do. That’s not very constructive ideally.
Besides, as an actor, you can give opinions.
Are you working on your next directorial?
You know, I did a short film before I directed A Death In the Gunj, and then I did an ad.
I wanted to see what that was like and keep my options open.
I am thinking of a story. I'll cook it in my head for some time and see how it goes.
Even A Death In The Gunj was in my head for a long time.
I am just trying to figure out what to do next.
I would also like to do some ads. That's more feasible and a much more viable option for me.
A feature takes so much time to think of, write it, get the funds, do the prep, shoot and do the post. It's like a year or two.
Is direction creatively more satisfying than acting?
It's difficult to say because I have acted in more than 45 films but have directed just one feature film.
My directorial debut will be special to me because it came from my experiences in my head. So, obviously, that's a different kind of satisfaction, a different kind of high.
Also, it’s very liberating not to have to be in hair, makeup and wardrobe because you can just wipe your face when it’s hot or wear layers when it’s cold or just tie your hair up if you want.
That kind of freedom over your physical self is great.
Are you open to web series?
Yes. There's no way you cannot be open because that’s what is happening now.
I am getting some interesting offers to act and direct web series.
I have been having meetings and reading scripts for web series. I hope I will do something interesting.
I don't know when my next directorial or acting in a web series will be.
Do you think digital cinema will be a blow to cinema?
Things keep changing in life and that's normal. You have to update yourself according to the times.
Once upon a time, we were watching black-and-white movies. Then came colour TV, then there was the VHS and then DVDs.
Cinema has been there for a long time but, frankly, it's not financially feasible by and large.
It’s important to communicate experiences and ideas in new ways.
This kind of content (A Monsoon Date) will not have a theatrical release and that's the reality of our times. Unless have a big star or you have a lot of money, it's not possible to have a theatrical release.
But that's okay because you can still reach people, thanks to the web.
Why should people see A Monsoon Date?
All of us -- regardless of whether we are straight or gay, young or old, or men or women -- are seeking love and seeking to belong.
And we all experience loss along the way.