National Award-winning actor Konkona Sen Sharma has been part of the film industry for almost three decades, having started as a child artiste in Bengali films. Despite being born to ace actor-filmmaker Aparna Sen, Konkona says she never wanted to become an actor. So, how did she end up as one eventually?
Here’s what Konkona shared about landing her first film as an adult:
1. What was your first project? How did it come to you?
I did a small part at the age of four in Bengali film Indira, which featured my mother in the lead role. After that, I did many small roles in my mother’s films and other movies. When I was 19, I did my first film as an adult – a Bengali movie titled Ek Je Aachhe Kanya (Once There Was a Girl). It was a copy of Hollywood film Crush, about a psychotic teenager who is obsessed with an older man. So it’s was a negative role. I did that during the summer vacations between my second and third year at Delhi University.
My mother used to run a women’s magazine called Sananda. There was a cover story they did on youth suicides. I remember I was on the cover. The director of Ek Je Aachhe Kanya, Subrata Sen saw my picture and got in touch with me when I was in Delhi. Subrata said he had a script, and asked me to read it. I did some college plays here and there, but I had no serious interest in being an actress. I read the script and found it to be quite a bold role. I remember my mother saying that it’ll be very challenging. I didn’t think too much about it honestly. I was studying theatre at that time. I was quite a snob, and this film was a commercial potboiler. It did very well, and I got some regional awards also.
2. What do you remember of your first day on set?
We shot in Calcutta – some of it was in a studio, some of it was real location. I don’t really remember what the first shot was. What I remember is that I had to shoot on a bicycle and I didn’t know how to ride one. I tried to learn, but I was terrible. And I also had to use a gun. So I had to train for both.
Initially, I was very judgmental about this girl. I was very uncomfortable with her sexuality because I was not even comfortable with my own sexuality at that age. My mother told me this is her arsenal. She doesn’t know anything else or how to get attention. And then I started feeling very sorry for her. That was very helpful because then I wasn’t judging her. I was more compassionate in my approach. So my mother really helped me, right from how to stand to what to do, my look and everything.
3. Were you nervous? How many retakes did you take?
I had done three-four films as a child actor. I’d been on my mother’s film sets. Because I was from this world, I was very comfortable. So there was no fear of the camera or a film set. Also, I always had this at the back of my mind, that I’m not going to do this for the rest of my life.
4. If given a chance to go back to your debut role, what would you like to change?
I don’t think I have that raw kind of instinct that I had at that time, which worked well for the part. You get away with a lot because you’re innocent.
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5. One film or role that inspired you to become an actor?
I never wanted to become an actress. But I do remember as a child, having read Gone with the Wind, I was very taken by the character of Scarlett O’Hara. Even though it was set in 1860, I felt it was a very unusual depiction of a woman who does things on her own terms. Of course, now I feel there are many better roles and characters, but at that impressionable age, it had left quite an impression on me.
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