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‘I have more responsibilities now’

Konkona Sensharma’s directorial debut film A Death In The Gunj has been travelling to many film festivals and making a mark on the global platform. The film, which hit the Indian screens last week, has impressed the audience as well. Here Vikrant Massey in a freewheeling chat with Rohini Nag Madnani, about the film, the director and more

On The Brief

Konkona (Sensharma) has lived this character for a really long time, so we had a lot of discussions about the part. The first thing she told me was that Shutu was a very sensitive and receptive boy. He is also extremely intelligent and always on the periphery of things. I was told that it was most important that people love Shutu; the audience has to feel for him. He is naïve and fighting his inner demons. We did a lot of workshops. I would like to say that my character is a very ordinary guy but extraordinary in his own way.

On His Role

It was not difficult to get into the character and I did follow a process to get out of the character. Shutu is a very vulnerable boy and falls into a downward spiral. In a way, I feel the core essence of the part is Konkona. On a personal level, I believe Konkona is Shutu and to be able to play this part, all I needed to do was study her.

On Challenge

There were day-to day challenges due to the location we shot in. McCluskieganj is an active Naxal area. It was physically challenging as well as we were staying in Ranchi, which was nearly two to three hours away from our shooting location. Apart from being emotionally drained due to the locations, we were physically drained as well. Apart from these geographical difficulties, it was not too difficult to play the part as an actor.

On Konkona Sensharma

I owe everything to Konkona. She is fantastic as a director, and there were times when I wondered whether she is a better actor or a better director. She is one of the finest actors we have and now one of the finest directors as well. She knows what she wants from the actors and how to draw performances from them as well. She comes from a certain lineage and class, and she has lived with this story forever. I mean, her father had written this story and she transformed it into a screenplay.

On Co-Stars

I was lucky to have had this opportunity to work with finest actors of our industry. Ranvir (Shorey) and I got on board in the early stages of the film, so we have lived with the film the longest. I have learnt so much from him. In a way, his character becomes the motivation for my character. From Ranvir to Gulshan (Devaiah) to Kalki (Koechlin), Jim (Sarbh), Tillotama (Shome) and Tanuja ma’am, this film has been a learning experience for me as each one of them approaches their parts in such an unconventional yet conventional manner. Omji (Puri) used to say that I went too far with my character as I dove deep into being Shutu. He was always concerned and made me relax and sit between shots.

Audience Response

It feels great and it adds to my confidence that the audience really appreciates my work. It just adds to your responsibilities as an actor when the audience has expectations from your work. I have worked in the industry for 14 years, I have done televisions soaps, advertisements, small parts in films and now I am getting much more work. I feel blessed.

What’s Next?

I have two films, Lipstick Under My Burkha and Pujya Pitashri. Apart from that, I am also working on something for the digital platform but it’s too early to talk about that.

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