She’s an actor first and not really a career director, says Konkona Sen Sharma, fresh from the critical acclaim for her "Lust Stories 2" segment “The Mirror” directed by her.
“The Mirror” comes almost seven years after she made her directorial debut "A Death in the Gunj".
And she’s in no hurry to direct again.
"I have to say that I'm really not a career director in that sense because I really consider myself an actress first. So I don't feel like I have to immediately direct something. I don't mind if a few years pass because the main thing is that I should be excited about the subject," Konkona told PTI in an interview.
Konkona, who has built a reputed filmography in both Hindi and Bengali cinema as a performer, said a lot of hard work goes into directing and she would not like to take on the responsibility just for the sake of it.
"I don't know that I'll direct so often. I'm hoping I'll also get some good roles to act in," she added.
Konkona has acted across languages and genres in films such as "Mr and Mrs Iyer", "Omkara", "Life in a... Metro'', "Luck By Chance" and "Wake Up Sid", "Goynar Baksho" and "Kadambari".
Many reviews hailed "The Mirror" as the standout segment in the Netflix anthology on lust for the way it takes on issues such as class divide and voyeurism through the story of a house owner walking in on her maid having sex in her bedroom.
It's "encouraging and nice" to see that people have connected with the story, Konkona, the daughter of filmmaker Aparna Sen and writer Mukul Sharma, said.
She just wanted to tell a simple story on lust without complicating it with something else.
"It's not like I have this notion that I want to show this from a female point of view. Honestly, I never thought about that because I guess this male gaze is internalised mostly in a way that we don't realise... I wasn't interested in this male gaze. I didn't think about all that," she said.
Tillotama Shome plays Ishita, the homeowner, Amruta Subhash, her maid Seema, and Shrikant Yadav, her husband, in the story set in a Mumbai apartment.
Konkona, who was inspired to make the story from a story that she had come across from one of her friends, said most of the sex scenes in “The Mirror” are from the outside and that's by design.
"It's only when Seema's character invites us inside that the camera goes inside the bedroom to witness Seema's pleasure, the pleasure that she derives from her exhibitionism. Before that, the camera is never inside the bedroom.
"So, both these are transgressive acts that both women are doing something wrong. Both have done something wrong. I say it's like two thieves stealing pleasure from each other," she said, recounting the basic premise for the story.
Asked about portraying intersectionality through this story of two women belonging to different classes of society, Konkona said it comes from real life.
"It's just how we choose to portray it. Everything is already existing, like they are not two equal women in that sense. They don't occupy equal positions in the world. One has a huge amount of privilege and the other doesn't." Shome, who also featured in "A Death in the Gunj", was the first actor who came to Konkona's mind when she wrote the script. Shome then recommended Subhash.
"I can't think of anybody else who could play Ishita. Tillotama had suggested Amruta Subhash and the moment she said her name, I was like, 'Oh my god, that's a brilliant suggestion'. She is just divine as well. Through Amruta, I found Shrikant Yadav.
"There was something about Shrikant's face, which somehow, for me, held a lot of kindness and dignity in his eyes. And I wanted to have someone like that," she said.
Konkona said she also did not want to show perfect bodies in her story of desire.
"Usually, we have very limited kinds of bodies experiencing desire, like who is allowed to feel what, in films that are limited," she said.
Konkona the director may take time to come up with her next but as an actor, she will next be seen in "Metro... In Dino", the second part of "Life in a... Metro". She also stars in Abhishek Chaubey's Netflix series "Soup" with Manoj Bajpayee, her mother's film "The Rapist" and the second season of "Mumbai Diaries" on Prime Video.
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