Interview - Konkona Sen Sharma

By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service

Mumbai, (IANS) Talented actress Konkona Sensharma is upset that her latest release "Mixed Doubles" is being compared to a sex comedy.

"I completely object to the term sex comedy. If it was a sex comedy I wouldn't be in it," said Konkona of the film that deals with the controversial subject of spouse swapping.

"To me 'Mixed Doubles' is a marital film. What works for it is that it doesn't take itself seriously in any obvious way. And yet there's a lot of dignity in it," Konkona told IANS in an interview.

She also denied she was romantically involved with Ranvir Shorey, her co-star in the Rajat Kapoor-directed film.

"I don't want to respond to these rumours. Let people say what they want."

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: You were outstanding in "15 Park Avenue". I wonder who will get the National Award you or Rani ...

A: I hope she (Rani Mukerji) gets it. Rani was very good in "Black". I adore Rani. And I've already got one for "Mr & Mrs Iyer".

Q: You worked really hard on your character in "15 Park Avenue"?

A: Yes, I did. You know, people don't really make me work that hard. I wish I could be motivated by myself or by my director to work harder. I'd love to. I'm basically lazy. I need that push in the right direction. My mom knows how to get me motivated. She believes in a lot of preparation before shooting.

Q: Well "Page 3" looked easy.

A: I could've been better in "Page 3". It was shot over a long period of time. That always dilutes the graph of a performance. You know, different directors give such different directions. It's only after the film you realise why certain things are done. For example, my mother is very particular about certain colours on the set. During shooting I wonder what the fuss is about. Only later do I realise what she wanted to achieve with that colour.

Q: And now you move into a light sex comedy in "Mixed Doubles".

A: I completely object to the term sex comedy. "Mixed Doubles" isn't just about sex, much in the same way that "Mr & Mrs Iyer" wasn't only about communal issues, and "15 Park Avenue" wasn't only about schizophrenia. If it was a sex comedy I wouldn't be in it.

Q: But a sex comedy doesn't have to be dirty.

A: Oh, to begin with, I don't have any problems with dirty movies at all. They should be made if people want to see them. But I don't think I'd be comfortable doing one. To me "Mixed Doubles" is a marital film. What works for it is that it doesn't take itself seriously in any obvious way. And yet there's a lot of dignity in it.

Q: How did you react when the director narrated the concept of wife swapping?

A: I didn't get nervous. I've too much respect for the director, Rajat Kapoor. I had heard so much about his plays. I had seen him in "Monsoon Wedding", and his first film as director "Raghu Romeo". I didn't think he'd make something sleazy or banal. And even if he did I couldn't imagine why he'd come to me with it.

And it isn't as if I trusted Rajat blindly. I read the script. I did have a couple of reservations. But it was a sweet and funny script. I was concerned that the theme of a marriage gone sour may not come through. But it did. You know many marriages do go stale.

Q: Is that the point that attracted you to the script?

A: Also, the fact that it says women also have a libido, that women also want to have sex. Very few films address themselves to a woman's sexual appetite.

Q: But your character comes across as immensely docile?

A: Yes, but there're women like my character in "Mixed Doubles". And I've played very strong characters also. But I'd rather play my characters compassionately than be judgemental about them. People are weak and fragile and strong at the same time. There're so many people who are like the girl in "Mixed Doubles". And who knows, somewhere deep inside she might actually want to know what wife swapping is like.

It's quite funny. I don't think it's a cinematic breakthrough. I'd be lucky to have one or two of those in my career. I was so comfortable doing the film. It was made on a shoestring budget, so I knew I wasn't doing it for money. I just wanted to work with this crew and cast, including Naseeruddin Shah in that little cameo as my father. I had a blast.

Q: Ranvir Shorey and you are being linked together?

A: I don't want to respond to these rumours. Let people say what they want. As a co-star... I've worked with new actors before. Rajat and Ranvir knew each other well from beforehand. So initially I was the odd one out. We shot on two locations, and both were Rajat's homes. Everyone was a friend on the set. Koel Purie and I were the two outsiders. It was fun to work with her. I get along quite well with her. It didn't seem like a movie set... no one had her own hairdresser or van... It was a very intimate atmosphere on the sets.

Q: "15 Park Avenue" required a lot of performing; "Mixed Doubles" seems easy?

A: It's true a lot of things happen to my character in "Park Avenue" - she's epileptic, she's raped and she converses with non-existent people. Shabana and my mom helped me with that. Thankfully it was a dubbed film, so they would speak to me off-camera as my imaginary voices. And a lot of my responses came from people I had observed in similar predicaments. It's sad that schizophrenics are hidden away from social interaction. I also spoke to psychiatrists...You're right. "Mixed Doubles" is far more normal. She cooks, washes clothes....

Q: And goes spouse swapping.

A: Ha, ha! But that apart the things I had to do in "Mixed Doubles" were far more normal than an epileptic fit. So it's quite a contrast.

After this is Rituparno Ghosh's Bengali "Doshor". My next Hindi release should be "Deadline" with Irrfan Khan. It's my first Hindi thriller. So I'm quite thrilled.

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