Konkona Sensharma© HelloIndia

Konkona Sensharma On Her Film Choices, Parenting And More

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Puja Talwar

“When I was four years old, my parents asked me if I wanted to be Konkona Sen or Konkona Sharma, and that gave me agency to be my person and have my own opinion.”

This more or less defines Konkona Sensharma, who stands out in the film industry as a multi-talented individual with a distinctive voice. She credits her diverse skills to her mother, the acclaimed director Aparna Sen. Interestingly, Sen was a strict parent during Konkona’s formative years and notably disapproved of mainstream cinema. “I did sneak in the odd masala film in the ’80s and ’90s, but we watched a lot of Indian regional and world cinema together. She also instilled in me a love for reading and encouraged me to imagine the world for myself. This positive influence provided me with ample space to develop as a person,” expresses the 44-year-old actress, who has recently starred alongside actor Manoj Bajpayee in the crime caper Killer Soup, directed by Abhishek Choubey for Netflix.

Navigating Life Without Expectations

Konkona shares that on her mother’s side, there is a long history of independent women who were well-educated and chose to marry late, having children later in life. “Thanks to my mother, I realised I don’t need to live up to other people’s expectations of me,” she says.

Aparna Sen and her second husband, the late writer and journalist Mukul Sharma, have two daughters, Kamalini Chatterjee and Konkona, but they later divorced. “My mom was a single working mother, and I had a lovely relationship with my father all my life,” Konkona says, reflecting on her parents’ dynamic. They supported each other’s work, with Mukul even playing a brief role in his director wife’s celebrated films 36 Chowringhee Lane and Parama.

Konkona Sensharma©HelloIndia

In 2010, Konkona married actor Ranvir Shorey, and their son Haroon was born in 2011. The couple announced their separation in 2015 and finalised their divorce in 2020.

Candidly discussing the co-parenting their 12-year-old son, Konkona emphasises the absence of rigid rules for his upbringing. Their primary focus is on shielding Haroon from public scrutiny, ensuring their schedules never disrupt his well-being and interests. “Ranvir and I co-parent, and our differing ideologies add richness to the experience. It’s wonderful because I believe our child is becoming a free thinker, exposed to various perspectives, allowing him to choose his own beliefs,” she says.

Staying True To What Suits Me

The actress, who earned a National Award for her understated performance in Mr And Mrs Iyer, is renowned for her elegantly minimalist sartorial style, characterised by a vintage aesthetic. Her enviable collection of saris, ranging from basic cotton to intricately embroidered threads, is frequently complemented by floral blouses or short tunic-like shirts.

“I am lucky to have inherited a lot of lovely saris from my mother and grandmother [costume designer Supriya Dasgupta]. I wear what resonates with me. There are times when people call my look ‘boring’ but that’s okay by me because I prioritise wearing what brings me joy and what I find aesthetically pleasing, rather than seeking to entertain through my fashion choices,” she states emphatically.

Konkona Sen Sharma with President Pratibha Patil©HelloIndia

Konkona confesses that she takes her health more seriously now in her 40s than in her 20s and 30s, and she considers herself the healthiest today. “I used to eat and drink freely when I was younger; now I’ve started intermittent fasting,” she says, outlining her routine. “I continue with my regular walks and yoga practices, but I’ve added strength training three times a week, something I never did before. I try to meditate most days, read, and spend a lot of time with my son,” says the performer, who cherishes her close-knit circle of friends.

She sees pleasure in understanding oneself and staying attuned to what suits her. Like many women, she admits to limited choices but believes in making the best of situations, shaping one’s character along the way.

Embracing New Possibilities

Adopting a “go with the flow” approach extends to Konkona’s screen career as well. “In the early days, I was never focused on the outcome,” she claims, calling herself an accidental actor, uncertain about her path in the industry. “During that period, there was no pressure to achieve or succeed; it was never part of the equation. I simply felt I was getting roles, so I might as well take them and find another job. That’s how I began—being an actor and director was never my ambition.”

This approach seems to have served her well, earning acclaim for her compelling performances in films like Mr and Mrs Iyer, Page 3, 15 Park Avenue and Wake Up Sid. Not confined to a conventional mold, she has garnered the admiration of critics and fans. After two decades, Konkona has evolved into a celebrated actor, renowned for her deeply nuanced and authentic performances. Simultaneously, she has established herself as a storyteller with a knack for insightful narratives. As a director, with works like Death In The Gunj and Lust Stories 2, she has carved a distinct niche for herself in the industry. In recent years, she has made a mark across streaming platforms with notable performances in films like Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare and Ajeeb Daastaans, and series such as Mumbai Central and Killer Soup.

Konkona Sen Sharma©HelloIndia

“I’ve been fortunate to be a part of many films that hold personal and meaningful significance, not just for me but also for the audience. So, I have been very lucky. Now, with the rise of OTT platforms, I find it even more satisfying.

“In recent years, complex characters have emerged, and perhaps it’s a result of aging and not being confined to romantic roles alone. There’s a surge in the creation of intriguing roles for women across different narratives, providing ample substance to bite into,” she shares.

In Killer Soup, Konkona plays Swati, a talentless chef who, in a crime of passion, convinces her lover to replace her husband. Stepping into the shoes of a complex character, one that is both convoluted and strangely relatable, was a new experience for her. “Ek Thi Daayan was the only negative character that I had played before; typically, I’m cast as a morally upright and honest girl exuding integrity, which is not really reflective of human complexity. The uniqueness of Swati lies in her relatability, even as her life unfolds as a tragic comedy,” reflects the actress.

Though she enjoys being in front of the camera, Konkona openly admits to having a stronger affinity for directing, expressing a genuine love for the craft. The question naturally arises: has her mother played a role in shaping her passion for directing?

“For me, the joy comes from the control of world-building and designing, my favourite aspects of directing. The thrill of turning abstract thoughts or feelings into something tangible that can be shared with others is, in my words, truly amazing,” she says.

In a good place, both personally and professionally, Konkona is content with herself. What would she say to her 20-year-old self today? “You are doing great,” she responds with a smile.