Konkona Sen Sharma announced her directorial powers to the world through a seemingly innocuous moment in her debut feature, A Death In The Gunj (2018). A cook, scraping off every last bit of chicken curry in a utensil, licks the serving spoon before setting it aside. It’s a well- observed moment in a sublime film, lending humanity to this ‘peripheral’ character and indicating the sensitivity that characterises Sen Sharma as a director.
She’s similarly immersed in the world of The Mirror – one quarter of Lust Stories 2 – which explores the unspoken desires of two women belonging to different classes. It’s another sharp-eyed film by Sen Sharma, in which she peeks into the messy crevices of ‘civilised’ society.
She was most recently seen delivering a sophisticated and nuanced performance in Neeraj Ghaywan’s queer love story Geeli Puchhi in Ajeeb Dastaans – but Sen Sharma has already established herself as a director to follow.
Having been approached by producer Ashi Dua to contribute one segment for Lust Stories 2, the idea of The Mirror came out of a chance conversation. “My assistant Disha (Rindani), who is enroute to becoming a director herself, and I were discussing the ‘watching’ of lust,” Sen Sharma told Film Companion.
Instead, those scenes underline the longing and loneliness in Isheeta. The most erotically charged scenes in the film aren’t those in which Seema and Kamal are having sex, but one in which the camera focuses upon Shome’s face, recording Isheeta’s candid, wordless reactions to what she’s watching, and another in which Kamal realises his wife has a little streak of exhibitionism in her.
The surge of films and shows on streaming platforms has meant we could be seeing perhaps the most productive phase of Sen Sharma’s already storied career. However, with the range of roles comes the possibility of being slotted as an OTT figure. “I’m not terribly concerned with any of this,” Sen Sharma said, when asked about the label.