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‘I was happy to explore a lighter side’

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 Tillotama Shome in a freewheeling chat with Rohini Nag Madnani, about the film, the director and more

On The Brief

Konkona (Sensharma) had told me that Bonnie and Nandu had been married for a while, they had a child and had settled into the familiarity of domesticity without being utterly boring. However, they were a progressive couple and Bonnie was in no way the submissive wife. She told me that my character looked out for Shutu, the protagonist, perhaps more than the others did.

On Her Role

‘Bonnie’… the name itself indicates a certain joy. A film about a bunch of friends who go on a holiday was in itself a far cry from the intense and brooding characters I have played in the past. I am aware that I have a propensity for intensity and I enjoy it too. But I was afraid that perhaps I was incapable of exploring the lighter, more joyous facets of life in my work.

On Challenge

Once shooting commenced, a sudden bandh disrupted the shoot. For an independent film made on a shoestring budget, every day lost is like a page of the script gone. In playing Bonnie, the challenge for me was to crack the balance between the ‘caring mother’ and the woman who wants to have fun with her friends. In fact, modelling Bonnie on Aparna Sen and Konkona helped me get the tonality of languidness that I wanted.

On Konkona Sensharma

Gentle but firm. She sees the world of the film with a certain intimacy that a writer has. She had her moments of doubts, being a first-time director, and she reached out to those she trusted. But the most reassuring thing about her was her meticulous pre-production preparation and her ability to go with her gut in extremely challenging situations. She knew that the buck stopped with her, she was responsible for the film and she owned it like a general and led us all to fulfill that vision.

On Co-Stars

Mimi’s freewheeling sexuality with its accompanying irreverence was an extremely alluring character to play. Besides I would get cast for a part like that in an alternative universe. The  lack of judgement in Konkona’s writing of this character and vulnerability that Kalki brought into the part was so layered. Working with this cast was such a joy because we’re already friends and I felt supported and the need to support each other. Working with Omji and Tanuja were of course the most surreal part of it. Omji’s stories, his laughter will remain with me forever.

Audience Response

It seems people are enjoying the film. I am literally far removed from it all as I am in Vietnam. I have been eagerly awaiting this film to release for so long. But you know how milk never boils when you are looking at it. I had booked my holiday, and 15 days before I left, I found out both Hindi Medium and A Death In The Gunj were releasing while I would be away. That’s life…strange but beautiful.

 What’s Next?

Nila Madhab Pandey’s Kadvi Hawa with Ranvir Shorey and Sanjay Mishra and Rohena Gera’s Sir with Vivek Gomber.

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