Following in the footsteps of her actor-filmmaker mother, Konkona Sensharma debuts as a director
Konkona Sensharma, seen as a conscientious pregnant cop in last week’s release Akira, is best known for her powerful performances in Mr and Mrs Iyer, Page 3 and Talvar, to name a few. She has also appeared in Bengali and English films. The daughter of celebrated filmmaker Aparna Sen and writer Mukul Sharma, 36-year-old Konkona has grown from being a child actor to becoming a National Award winner. Adding another feather to her cap, her first film as a writer and director, A Death in the Gunj, premieres today at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The strong ensemble cast includes her estranged husband Ranvir Shorey. The actor-writer-director talks to us about her latest venture:
How did A Death in the Gunj happen?
It’s a coming of age drama set in 1979. The events take place during a family vacation. It’s based on a story I had heard my father tell us when I was young. It was set in McCluskieganj where we used to go for our holidays from Calcutta.
I have shot the film in the same town. When I would tell the story to my friends they would tell me I should write it as a
film script. I did write it and then ended up directing it too. There was no conscious decision to direct.
Was it intimidating directing the likes of Tanuja, Om Puri, Kalki Koechlin, Ranvir Shorey and Vikrant Massey?
I worked with a really good casting director and the actors read the script before getting on set. So everyone knew what they had to do. We also did some workshops with Atul Mongia (casting director). As it turned out, most of the actors knew each other from before, and I knew most of them too, so the energy on the set was great. As a director, the most difficult part was having to make decisions all the time and getting by with very little sleep.
What is the plan for releasing the film?
I think we hope to get into a few more film festivals first and then find a general release by next year. My first priority was to get the film ready for TIFF and to ensure I have made the film well. But I also hope some good acting work comes my way.
A Death in the Gunj, premieres today at the Toronto International Film Festival
— Udita Jhunjhunwala