Konkona Sen Sharma on Bollywood dancing and more.. in conversation with Roshmila Bhattacharya
Pradeep Sarkar, the director of Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, rhapsodizes about Varanasi’s surreal mists and it’s bhool bhulaiya gallis. It’s mouth-watering chaats and saffron-clad sadhus.What are your memories of the Holy City?
It’s crowded, dirty and we were working too hard to explore it. ( Chuckles ) Hey, I was only joking. The fact is that I was blown away on the very first day itself. However, that bit about being made to slog by dada (Pradeep Sarkar) is true.
I wish we had more time to take in the sights, sounds and smells of the city. Fortunately, we did a lot of shooting on the streets and ghats. So I was able to experience a little bit of the magic that draws people to Varanasi, again and again.
Aren’t you a lot like the chulbuli Chutki?
Nooo…I don’t think so. In fact, I was a little unsure about how to play her initially. I used to ask dada what he wanted me to do. He would shrug carelessly and say, “Nothing much. Just some tering biring.”
( With a laugh) It’s a typical Bengali word for masti.. jumping around. Dada speaks Benglified Hindi. Fortunately, most of the cast and crew were Bongs, so we didn’t have much trouble figuring out his strange lingo.
<b1>Did the camaraderie we see on screen spill over into real life?
When we were shooting in Mumbai we would go back to our respective homes after “pack-up”. But in Varanasi we were all living in the same hotel, so after shooting we’d sit down and chat and even took our meals together. There was a lot of bonding happening.
With Jayaji it was almost like a mother-daughter relationship since we had been shooting for Rituda’s (Rituparno Ghosh) Sunglasses just before we started LCMD. She’s a lovely person... very warm. Abhishek, though we didn’t have too many scenes together, is nice too. He had us in splits with his tongue-in-cheek quips.
And Rani Mukherji?
I got off to a bad start with her. I’m a clumsy dancer and since it was the first day of doing and we were shooting a song, Hum to bhai aise oh bhaiya, I was doubly nervous.
Suddenly, the wooden toy I was whirling flew out of my hand and caught Rani straight on the nose. I was mortified, more so when I noticed that she was bleeding. I was profuse in my apologies.. and even sent her flowers in the evening. Luckily, despite the incident we became friends.
Rani’s the main protagonist of LCMD, but even in the promos your exuberance and talent for histrionics shines through. Another strong supporting performance, like Omkara ?
( With a sigh)Why do you have to bring up all this? Omkara and LCMD are two different stories. In fact, no two films are the same. Some revolve around two actors, some around 10. And always it’s a collaborative effort.
You’ve seen Parineeta ?
I have, many times. It made me cry. Only I didn’t like the end.
<b2>I’m told you cried during the narration of LCMD too?
Yeah, I had tears in my eyes towards the end. It’s a very emotional subject and rooted in reality.
Next up, Aaja Nachley. You got to dance with Madhuri Dixit?
I did, but more on that later.
You’re doing a lot of dancing for someone who on KoffeeWith Karan had insisted that you’d never be caught dancing in a Bollywood film. In fact, you’d said that your idea of a perfect film was no dance and no drama. That’s a far cry from what you’re doing today?
That’s the kind of film I’d like to direct some day, if someone would finance it. As for dancing, it’s something I still feel stupid doing.
But what do you do when you’re offered a great role like
? When you want to work with a director you admire? When the production house is a professional unit like YRF and you know they’ll make sure the film is released well? You can’t let an opportunity like this pass because unfortunately, for you it has a little bit of dancing. ( With a laugh) I tried to convince dada to keep me out of the song sequences, but he couldn’t be persuaded.
Tell me..is Pradeep Sarkar really the perfectionist he’s made out to be?
Dada is quite mad! Even if the curtains are fluttering, and they’re not supposed to, it’ll bother him no end. I used to wonder, “Why’s he doing this to us?” Then, I saw his exquisite frames and now I’m a convert.
Aparna Sen.. Rituparno Ghosh.. Pradeep Sarkar. How would you rate them?
Every director has his own style but actually, these three are pretty similar. (Laughs )They are all neurotic Bengalis with a perfectionist streak.
You missed out on The Japanese Wife, and Raima (Sen) still can’t believe her luck.
( Smiling) Anyone who gets to work with my mother is lucky. I’d have loved to be in The Japanese Wife, but the dates clashed with the two Yash Raj films. Anyway, my mother says Raima’s a better choice.
With Abhishek Bachchana and Saif Ali Khan being signed on, Gulel’sall set to be revived.
Nothing has been finalized yet. But I hope Gulel happens.
Years ago, soon after Picnic, I remember your father, Mukul Sharma proudly telling me that you were going to be the star of the future.
( With a smile) He liked Mr & Mrs Iyer, 15 Park Avenue and Omkara. And that’s about it. He hasn’t seen half my films. Not that I’ve read half the articles he’s written.