Konkona Sen Sharma is one of the most highly respected actresses in the Hindi film Industry. That she has amazing talent is acknowledged by fellow actors, critics, her fans, and by the two National Awards she has won: One for Mr and Mrs Iyer and one for Omkara. Other highlights from her career are 15 Park Avenue, Life in a Metro, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag and Aaja Nachle. She has such a command over her craft that she gets lost within her character, and you don’t see Konkona anymore. This Friday she is playing what she does best, an actress in the Hindi Film Industry in Zoya Akhtar’s Luck By Chance. I got the lucky chance to speak with her and she talked about Zoya, Farhan and working on the highly anticipated film!
What made you want to become an actress in the first place?
That is a very interesting question because I did not always want to be an actress. I come from a very filmi family. My mother was an actress and director. My grandfather was also a director in the Bengali film Industry. I did a few films as a child, and then in college a few films fell in my lap. Then I did more, and I was in denial for a while, I think, but it continued on and now I love what I am doing and can’t imagine doing anything else.
Has your job been as rewarding as you thought it would be back in the beginning?
You know, it really has been. I never wanted to do mainstream films, the typical Bollywood films, though I love watching them now and again. I like to do more off-beat films, and today there is a nice mix of the two being made in the Hindi film Industry.
How do you go about selecting a script?
You know, I usually just read the script. I really go by my gut, I rely on my instinct. I read the script and see if I have enjoyed reading it and how I react with the script. I also try and meet the directors and have a few discussions with them to see what kind of rapport I have with them and whether I agree with their vision of what they want to execute. That is how I go about it.
What prompted you to say yes to Luck By Chance?
Well, Luck By Chance was a script that I had already heard about. I had already heard that it is a fabulous script as well, so I was curious about it. When it came my way I was very excited. I had known Zoya a little bit from before and I knew that she had a lot of experience in films for many years, and I knew she would do a good job directing any movie. Then when I read the script, I loved the script. I think it is a very unusual kind of premise for a film, with unusual leads. It is a crowded script, it has a lot going on, a lot happening. It’s funny, it’s entertaining, it’s sad, it’s touching; there is a lot of that going on. So this was a film I immediately responded to and I was very excited to do.
Who is your character?
My character’s name is Sona Mishra. She’s someone who is not from Bombay – she has come from out of town. She has come from a small town. She is fairly ambitious; she fought with the family to come to Bombay to become a Hindi film actress. She has not quite made it yet, she is still a struggler. She is a vivacious young woman who doesn’t let much stand in her way. She has done a few B grade movies. She still hasn’t quite made it into Bollywood A grade films. She plays the peripheral roles of the heroine’s best friend or the hero’s sister. She is trying to make it in the industry but she is a brave young girl, not quite made it. Looking forward too, very ambitious and all of that.
How close to real Hindi film life is the story of the film?
Well, definitely when I read the script there are things about it which I immediately smiled to myself, because these are things one knows about, thing that happen. I think she has captured the Hindi film industry in a very nice, unique way, because of course at times it is spoofy and fun, but at the same time it strikes the right chord, you know. It captures it accurately as well, so there is that right balance between the two.
How was it working with Farhan? What do think of him as an actor?
It was wonderful working with Farhan. I’ve liked the films he has directed in the past. He is a wonderful actor. You know, if I hadn’t known anything about him, if I didn’t know he was a director, I would have thought he has always been an actor, because he is very natural and he is a nice person to work with. We have a good vibe between us. He is very funny – keeps cracking jokes between takes – and is full of these funny anecdotes of old Hindi movies. Good fun.
What’s something about Farhan that we would be surprised to know? We asked him the same question about you.
I think firstly you would never know he is a director. The fact that he is someone who has mainly been behind the camera, and now he is acting, I mean, you would never know. Not once have I seen him trying to put in too much input, unless, you know, Zoya asks him something or I discuss the scene with him. He is just completely non-interfering. Does his own thing with a smile and cracking jokes and doing his own business in the acting department. Even though he is very, very clued in, because you know he is very clued into the technical aspects of filmmaking. You find that he knows just how to take the light, where to stand; all that he is very, very good with. I was pleasantly taken aback with that. So what did he say about me?
He said, that you had to work on your Hindi for the dialogues.
Right, right. That’s true because Hindi is not my mother tongue. I am always struggling with Hindi [laughs].
What do you think of Zoya’s vision as a director? What did you think of her work as director on the film?
I think Zoya is a director to watch out for. I think she is very clear, she has a clear voice, she has a clear vision. She knows exactly what she wants, which is really helpful to an actor. She gives you the right kind of guidance, she steers you to the parts she wants. I think that is what makes the film unique.
Do you have a favorite memory from the shoot that you would like to share?
Well, I don’t know about a favorite memory, but one fun aspect of shooting this film was because I play a struggling actor, I mean someone who plays bit roles in films. I got to dress up as many different kinds of characters. I got to dress up as a nurse, because she does a big part of a nurse in the film, then she is a gypsy in another one, then another she is playing a 1930s character with that hair and that sari style during that period, and so that was fun because I have not really had to do that a lot.
Besides talent, do you think it is by luck or chance that some people become stars and some people extras?
I think it is a mix between having the right kind of luck and being at the right place at the right time, and having talent, because I don’t think that you can survive only on luck, and unfortunately I don’t think you can survive only on talent, either.
Do you believe in luck?
Um, yeah, I actually don’t understand this question. I have been asked this a lot and I don’t really know what there is to believe in luck. I mean luck happens. It depends on where you are, what choices you make, how that affects other peoples choices. I mean, whatever choices you make in life have a series of ramifications on the rest of your life, however trivial they are, and your choices correspond to other people’s choices. I think all of that is luck, because you don’t really think about what I have so much control over. It depends on where you are at this time, so I guess that is luck, at least how I understand luck. I think luck and chance are the same thing to me.
What is your favorite thing about being in the film industry?
That every project comes to a quick and merciful end. I like that I don’t have to do the same thing every day. I mean if I am in a project and I am not enjoying it I know it is going to end within a few months. Then I can move on to the next one.
Do you ever get nervous before starting a film?