'I never wanted to be an actress'
Interviewing Konkona Sen Sharma is not as exciting as watching the actress on screen. On screen, she's a wonder as she completely transforms herself to the character that she is playing. Off screen, she usually appears disinterested, bored and moody.
Patcy N caught her in a similar mood when she met Konkona at the promotion of her comedy Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge, releasing this Friday. Excerpts from a conversation:
You have never worked in an out-an-out comedy before. What made you sign this one up?
Yes, I've never done out-an-out comedy before. But that's not a good reason not to ever try. In fact, that's all the more reason to try something (new).
I would like to think that I have done a comedy film before -- in Life... In A Metro, where my story was funny. I made a fool of myself in Aaja Nachley too. There's also The President is Coming, which was also a comedy. But I have not done any mainstream comedy film.
What is Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge about?
It is exactly what the title says. It is about a contemporary working couple with a busy schedule, who suddenly have an atithi (guest). Initially, they're happy but then this guest refuses to leave. That leads to a different kind of situation, which we have exploited for comedy.
Image: Konkona Sen Sharma in Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge
'I don't think acting can be taught'
How comfortable are you with comedy?
It is the same thing, regardless of any film. You still have to come on the sets, do your make up, learn your lines, interact with your co-star and then deliver.
What about comic timing?
Timing should exist regardless of whether it is a comedy, a drama or a thriller. When someone says something, when you react is something that should be inherent in you -- either you have it or you don't. I don't think you can learn that. I don't think acting can be taught either -- you can hone your skills. If you have the basic gift of acting, then you can master that craft. But you can't learn acting.
You worked with Paresh Rawal in this film, who is know for his comedy. Did he give you any tips?
To make a scene work, you need good writing, good direction and good actors. It is a combination of different factors.
It was wonderful working with Pareshji. All of us had a great time working together. But Pareshji did not give me any tips.
Image: A scene from Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge
'I have not consciously tried to sort out films'
What kind of comedy films do you like to watch?
I like Birdcage very much. It is probably one of the funniest films (I've seen). It is warm and compassionate as well. I watch Saturday Night Live because they do a lot of funny skits.
When I was in college -- I studied English literature -- they would say comedy is a corrective mechanism. You ridicule something to correct something in society. It can teach you a lot of things about yourself and other people in society. It also makes you look at things from another perspective.
Off late you have turned to commercial films like Aaja Nachley, Lagaa Chunari Main Daag and Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge...
People see me as someone, who does art house cinema and now trying to do commercial films. But it has never been like that. I have not consciously tried to sort out films.
Actually, you should credit that to the changing times. You can't imagine Dharma Productions and Yash Raj Films offering films to actors, who are not mainstream like me. But nowadays, they do.
Image: Konkona Sen Sharma in Lagaa Chunari Main Daag
'I didn't want to shift to Mumbai'
When you shifted to Mumbai, were you sure that you would be accepted in Bollywood? Or did you just decide to try your luck?
I did my first film when I was four years old. Everyone used to tell me that I should become an actress. But if you keep telling me something, I usually don't want to do it at all. So I never wanted to be an actress.
I did my first film Ek Je Aachhe Kanya when I was in college. It was a Bengali film. I did the film without thinking of the consequences, whether people would have an opinion about me or whether it would affect my life in any way. I did it just for a lark, during my summer vacation.
Then I did another film called Titli. Even after Mr & Mrs Iyer, I would look at the the classifieds for jobs because I never wanted to be an actress.
I didn't want to shift to Mumbai either. I was okay with Kolkata. I did not want to enrol in a Delhi college but my mother (filmmaker Aparna Sen) told me to go. After Mr & Mrs Iyer, I went back to Delhi.
When I was offered Page 3, I started staying in hotels. Many months after Page 3, I was offered Mixed Doubles and Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota, both shot in Mumbai. It was becoming difficult for me to constantly travel and live in hotels. So one thing led to another. First, I rented a house, then I bought one. So I have no idea what will happen in future.
I tend not to regret anything. Plus, I don't look at life like it is over. And I don't plan anything. I tend to live in the present.
Image: Konkona Sen Sharma in Page 3
'Production interests me'
Since your mother is an actress-turned-director, do you think you will follow in her footsteps?
Production interests me. I like administration. I always wanted to work in a office, sign files, pick up phones... So that would be fun for me. I am very strict and organised as well. So production may be interesting. But I don't deal with stress very well.
Direction is something that you can't say.
Are you happy with this year's National Award winners?
I would not like to comment on it. You can't please everyone. I think one should not take awards seriously, just like you cannot take praise and criticism seriously. These awards are given by a group of 12 people and it is just the thoughts of those 12 people.
Image: Konkona Sen Sharma and Rahul Bose in Mr and Mrs Iyer