Konee's comeback

That a good actress will never be out of work is a myth — Andarmahal actress Koneenica Banerjee shoots from the lip

  • Published 31.01.18
Picture: Biswajit Kundu

A days off means a visit to a salon, eating out with her mother and meeting friends. On work days, it’s hard for Koneenica Banerjee to catch a breather ever since she’s returned to television as the feisty Parameshwari in the Zee Bangla TV serial Andarmahal. The actress chatted with t2 at her Bhowanipore home about striking a work-life balance and one year of her marriage.

Almost a decade after quitting TV serials, you’ve returned with the lead role in Zee Bangla’s TRP topper Andarmahal. And what a comeback it has been...

Thank you! Yes, I wasn’t doing mega serials. I was only getting offers to play small roles in films. The main reason why I decided to do a mega serial again after 10 years was because I got married!

Marriage inspired you to make a comeback? People usually take a break post-marriage!

After three months of marriage, I realised that there is more to life than being married. Being happily married forever is a myth and for me the myth broke pretty fast. Marriage comes with a lot of baggage. My identity is my work and only through my work could I become a more confident person. I would often question myself about who I was. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter but I was constantly probing deeper. At this juncture, I got the offer to play Parameshwari in Andarmahal. I read the script and immediately said yes.

Andarmahal has kind of merged the reel and the real for you, isn’t it?

Absolutely so. [Koneenica’s Parameshwari is an uneducated woman married to a rich and traditional household. She is stepmom to a teenaged daughter and her husband is very indifferent to her.] The concept of the mega was so similar to my life post-marriage that I immediately said yes.

Parameshwari and Koneenica are different people but, honestly speaking, playing Parameshwari has at times helped me grow as a person. While reading the script I had a lot of self-realisation. She is my mirror image. As Koneenica, I haven’t been able to tell the bitter truths to some of my closest people which Parameshwari has said to her near and dear ones. So she is my alter ego. But there are differences too. She is uneducated, doesn’t have a career... but it has been deeply satisfying playing her because she is a silent rebel. She stands up for what is wrong. At times Parameshwari has helped me improve my marital life.

Koneenica and Surajit Hari

Like Parameshwari, who is stepmom to a teenaged daughter, you too have a son from your husband’s (Surajit Hari) previous marriage. How do your in-laws react watching the show?

I am not sure if they watch. I haven’t been able to watch all the episodes on TV myself. I watch them on my phone. But my husband has supported me. We have a very erratic schedule. It wasn’t like this 10 years ago when I quit TV.... My parents have been very supportive too because I live with my in-laws in Baguiati now and my shooting happens in Dassani Studio in Tollygunge. So I have breakfast at home (Bhowanipore) and then head for work. The third person who has silently supported me is my pet dog Boxer.

To answer the first part of your question... well, our son Dron is 12 years old and studies in St. Xavier’s. Earlier he used to call me Konee. But post-marriage everyone else forced him to call me Ma. I was very happy being addressed as Konee. Honestly, he is sharing his dad with me. I am not sure if I could have accepted this if I were him because I am extremely possessive and jealous. He is in touch with his mother and despite that he calls me Ma. I am grateful.

Are you very ambitious?

I was at one point of time but not any more. People have always liked my work and I have always worked with all my heart. I went to a party where there were people from Philadelphia and London and all of them watch Andarmahal. But believe me, all these things don’t flatter me because I know maybe six months from now I will be out of work again. Maybe I will start being a socialite again, go to parties all dolled up and do PR! (Smirks) That a good actress will never be out of work is a myth.

Koneenica in a selfie on the sets of Andarmahal

But some of your contemporaries like Debleena Dutt Mukherjee and Chandreyee Ghosh have continued to work...

Yes, they have been working non-stop. For me monotony had set in and my work was suffering. So I took a break. I have done at least seven-eight mega serials. From Ek Akasher Nichey to Ei Toh Jibon, Chena Mukher Shari, Kokhono Megh Kokhono Brishti, Raat Bhor Brishti, Nir Khonje Mon and a couple more and I just couldn’t work any more... I was so bored! But it’s a good thing... because I made a comeback after so many years.

How have you stayed so young all these years?

Yes, it’s been 18 years since I started out as an actress. I am very old, do you know that?! I don’t think I am as good-looking as I was 10 years ago. I don’t fit into my old jeans any more. Maybe you are talking about my looking fresh most of the time. That’s because even though my life is full of sorrow, I have tried to find happiness and live my life instead of sitting and wondering why I have so much sorrow! Believe me, no amount of dieting or beauty treatments can make you look good if you are not happy from within.

Your fave TV show

F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Sex and the City, The Big Bang Theory.

Fave TV actor and actress

Anasuyadi (Anusuya Majumdar), Santu Mukherjee and Sabudi (Sabitri Chatterjee)... their dedication over the years....

Your dream destination

Anywhere in the world with my husband.

Favourite lipstick shade

Mac’s Russian Red.

A film that teaches you life lessons

Koni, and that line, ‘Fight Koni, fight’.

What makes you the happiest?

If I can make someone smile.

A person whose company you enjoy the most

Either my hubby or my Ma... I can’t choose one.

A piece of jewellery you have an emotional attachment to

My shakha pola... it’s very special as it changes my look completely.

Kushali Nag
What’s your message for Koneenica? Tell t2@abp.in