Filmmaker Aparna Sen has a small but niche audience; and she will tell you so herself. She will even convince you that she doesn’t do experimental cinema. “I don’t make experimental films, I remain well within the narrative format. My stories have to have a coherent narrative,” Sen asserts.
Her latest film, Iti Mrinalini, has already had its share of festival tours. It features Sen herself and her daughter Konkona Sen Sharma, and traces the life of a famous actor through flashbacks till the point when the now aged star decides to commit suicide. The film also features Rajat Kapoor and Priyanshu Chatterjee. And no, the film is not a story of her life, Sen clarifies.
She is all praise for her daughter. “Konkona has great confidence and tremendous screen presence. She was always a good actor, but she wanted to be a journalist.
It was only when she got a National Award that she began to think that she could give acting a try. As a director, I think she’s an honest actor, which even Ranvir (Shorey) is,” says the filmmaker. Ask her if being Konkona’s mother gives her an added edge to direct her daughter and Sen says, “Being a director and mother are not two different roles. They both scold and they both hug.”
Although she doesn’t always have an actor in mind while writing a script, she does admit that a star cast does help draw audiences to the theatres. But then there are disadvantages too. “You can’t shoot on the streets with them. You also hesitate to correct them, whereas, with the not-so-known ones, you can mould them. But then with big stars, you have an assured audience and the funding immediately goes up,” she says, adding that she had to wait for word-of-mouth publicity to catch on for Mr And Mrs Iyer (2002) due to the lack of a star cast.
Among Bollywood’s new faces, Ranbir Kapoor is the filmmaker’s favourite. “There’s something about him that I find quite appealing,” she smiles. But she insists on keeping mum asked whether she had a script for Konkona: “I’m considering several ideas, but I don’t like talking about my films so much in advance.”