Actress Konkana Sen Sharma, who made her acting debut at the age of three while hanging out on a Bengali film set with her actor-turned-director mother Aparna Sen, says her relationship with films changed after she did ‘Mr and Mrs Iyer’.
Sharing her Bollywood journey with a packed audience at Australia India Institute’s Satyajit Ray memorial lecture, Sen said the movie that got her the National award for best actress gave her a chance to see all the aspects of acting in films.
“I was not sure about acting, so my mother offered this role and she is very good at tricking me. She said, ‘You help me and be my research assistant’. I went to Chennai to research on Iyers which was great fun and experience,” said Sen, who is also attending the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne.
“I was looking for jobs in Delhi after doing ‘Mr and Mrs Iyer’, and then the film won awards and I won the National award and my life changed. Suddenly people were aware that I was acting. And I realised that this is something that I enjoy. My relationship with acting changed a lot,” the 34-year-old actress said.
Sen, whose resume boasts of a number of Bengali, Hindi and English films, describes herself as the champion of the underdog, and said Bengali films were her real children and Hindi films her step children.
Reminiscing her first debut film ‘Indirah’ as a child artist in 1983, Sen said, “They needed a little boy. They did not have a child so they cut my hair and put me in film. That was the inglorious beginning of my acting career.
“I would love to be a boy in a film. We are really disadvantaged. Women don’t get as many roles as men. They don’t get paid as much as they do either. These are the inequalities that most industries have,” she said.
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Even after doing two-three Bengali films, Sen said acting was never on her mind as a career option.
“I saw my mother as an actress and I saw her life as an actor and director. It is a hard life particularly when you make unconventional choices for example when you are following your heart. I really never wanted to be an actor,” she said adding she was planning on to career like journalist or a psychologist.
“I studied English Honours but infact I was so shy that in my first year of college I didn’t audition for any plays. While I was in college got offered a mainstream Bengali film, a copy of Hollywood movie ‘Crush’, which was spectacular bad film… My mother asked take the challenge,” Sen said.
The film received many accolades and Sen said it was whole new experience for her.
She also recalled her relation with late filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh, who had directed her in films like ‘Titli’, ‘Dosar’ but she turned down ‘Shubho Mahurat’.
“Nandita Das did that… Such an idiot for not having done that,” Sen said.