As an actress, her choice of roles have been atypical and Konkona Sensharma says she wants to continue telling unconventional stories even as a director. The 37-year-old actress, who has turned director with A Death in the Gunj, says she will probably never make a Bollywood potboiler as it does not come naturally to her.
“It seems quite unlikely that I’ll make a masala film. Even as an actor, I haven’t done those kinds of films and it is largely out of choice. “It is also true that I haven’t been offered the gamut of roles. I’ve tried a few roles here and there. But when I have, I feel most comfortable in the other kinds of films,” Konkona told PTI in an interview here. She, however, understands that choosing not to do a mainstream movie may not be as profitable as a project is expected to be, but says it is a conscious choice.
“A Death in the Gunj is slightly off-beat in part, not financially lucrative as one would want. But that is a conscious choice that I have made. It’s the person that I am. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to do it for. Let’s see.” It is generally a norm to take a more secure route and romantic comedies are considered a safe bet for new directors. But Konkona says she chose to bring A Death in the Gunj on the celluloid as she felt compelled to tell the story of this place lost in time. Set in the late 1970s, the movie is about a Bengali upper middle-class family who travels to McCluskieganj for a vacation that goes wrong.
“The film is based on some true events. My parents used to own a place in McCluskieganj back in the time, which they had to sell off. “I had heard many family anecdotes about that place. But there were some stories which weren’t funny; they were chilling, eerie and of a forgotten time.” Konkona says she loved the “specific atmosphere” of the remote hilly town in Jharkhand and this is why she decided to set the story there.
“Set in 1933, the place was found by ET McCluskie. It used to be a haven for Anglo-Indians. After Independence, most of them went off to Canada and Australia due to lack of economic prospects. They used to call it the Ganj, which started dying out soon after.” In the 1980s, a lot of the Anglo-Indian population had left McCluskieganj and their houses were in shambles in the absence of governance and infrastructure.
Konkona says poverty was so deep-rooted in the place that the Adivasis would come out of the jungles and steal the pristine doors and windows of the cottages. “But you don’t steal the doors and windows unless you have to,” she says. The actress-turned-director is more relaxed about its reception in India as the film was well-received at international film festivals. Starring Vikrant Massey, Kalki Koechlin, Tillotama Shome, Ranvir Shorey, Tanuja, Jim Sarbh and late actor Om Puri, the film releases tomorrow.