She was just 16 when she made her debut as an actress in Satyajit Ray’s Teen Kanya. She went on to do many critically acclaimed films in both Hindi and Bengali. But Aparna Sen found that her true calling was behind the camera. She turned director with the National Award-winning 36 Chowringhee Lane. Several other acclaimed films like Sati, Mr and Mrs Iyer and 15 Park Avenue followed. Now, this three-time National Award winner is getting good reviews for her film The Japanese Wife.
What would you do if Superman paid you a visit?
Ask for funding for my next film!
Your typical Sunday?
No different from a weekday. Mostly I never know when it’s a Sunday when I’m working on a film, unless it’s a second Sunday, which is a forced holiday in Kolkata.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could keep five things with you, what would you choose?
A torch; a box of matches; an iPod with the films Smiles Of A Summer Night, Babel and La Strada on it and the soundtrack of Three Colours Blue; Marquez’s novel Love In The Time Of Cholera; and many sleeping tablets so that I could ‘cop out’ when the batteries of the torch and the charge of the iPod ran out!
The wickedest prank you ever pulled on anyone?
When this guy from a garage called me, mistaking me for someone else, and asked what he should do with my car, I asked him to take the engine down! Actually, it wasn’t me who said this, it was someone else – but I found it so funny and so wicked, I like to pass it off as my own!
If you could go back in time, which period of history would you go back to and why?
I’d go back to pre-history. The time of the Mahabharata. They had the most amazing sex lives back then. Anything we can imagine now pales in comparison!
The craziest rumour you have heard about yourself?
That we’d smuggled a Maoist back in our car when we were returning from Lalgarh!
What do you do in a crisis?
Take a deep breath.
Three places you love shopping in?
Weavers Studio in Kolkata, Pierre 1 Imports in Manhattan and Good Earth in Mumbai.
If you had to make a comedy film, who would you cast?
Govinda and Moushumi Chatterjee, though rumours of the former’s delays in reporting on the sets might also scare me off!
One film dialogue you love?
Rhett Butler’s Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn! in Gone With The Wind.
One household chore you’d rather do yourself?
Ironing clothes. I could’ve been a launderette if I hadn’t been a filmmaker!
The one show you don’t like to miss on TV?
Barkha Dutt’s We The People.
The best joke you have ever heard?
Two cannibals sit chatting by the fire as they eat dinner. One says, ‘Know what, I can’t stand my mom-in-law!’ His friend replies, ‘Then why don’t you try the fish instead?’
The one thing you love about your partner?
That he loves crafts as much as I do and that our tastes exactly match!
You have faith in?
Your exercise routine?
Stretches and abs in the morning and a walk after dinner listening to the soundtrack of Three Colours Blue.
What drives you up the wall?
Lots of people talking at the same time and all of them expecting me to listen!
The one thing that you always like to get as a gift?
An African mask, but not of the cheap ‘tourist’ variety!
Your favourite indoor and outdoor game?
Scrabble. Sadly, I don’t play any outdoor games.