Very few actors have the capability of surprising the audience consistently over a long period of time. Konkona Sensharma has been doing this for more than a decade now. Watching her brilliant act in Geeli Pucchi I was struck by the fact that I was surprised by her performance. After having followed her career for the longest time and having been an admirer, I never thought surprise would be the prevailing emotion.
I remember first watching her in Rituparno Ghosh’s Bengali movie Titli, playing a teenager with a crush on a Bollywood superstar. Acting alongside her mother Aparna Sen, she brings the right amount of chirpiness and emotions to her character. It was a surprise to see her immediately after that in Mr and Mrs Iyer as the conservative Tamil Brahmin mother of a toddler who struggles with her prejudices. Where Titli does not hold back on speaking her mind, Mrs Iyer is a more muted and mature performance. Both those movies came out in the same year.
Here career graph is filled with roles as diverse as they could be for an actor. When she entered the consciousness of mainstream Hindi cinema, she left an indelible mark in Page 3, one of Madhur Bhandarkar’s better made movies. While some of the more mainstream movies she was a part of were unwatchable – Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, Aaja Nachle, Deadline, etc. – she never was. Even in the badly written parts, there was always a subtle expression here or a smartly delivered line there that would bring out her presence. She has straddled the worlds of mainstream and parallel, Bengali and Hindi cinema, and created a filmography that would be the envy of the greatest actors. She stood out in brilliant ensembles and mediocre cinema with equal ease. Sometimes I wonder if she has got the recognition her work deserves. In a different industry, paeans would have been written in her praise.
The schizophrenic Meethi in 15 Park Avenue, the stammering young bride interacting with the ghost of a widow in Goynar Baksho, the terrifying witch in Ek Thi Daayan, the struggling actress in Luck by Chance, Ranbir’s spirit animal in Wake Up Sid – all these characters happen to share the same physical space as Konkona but each of them is a separate entity that shares no traits with the others. This is probably the reason she surprises with each performance. You go into the movie hoping to see Konkona but are engrossed by a Meethi or Diana or Bharti. Bharti in Geeli Pucchi (part of the anthology Ajeeb Daastaans) is such an outstanding performance. She is soothing as a lover, primal when in a fight, melancholic with Old Monk when spurned, and scheming when pursuing her dream job. All this within the duration of a short film. The sheer fact that in an industry that invented ‘stereotyping’ she has managed to escape it is a testament to her choices and the brand she has created for herself. Her acting talent is a gift that keeps giving and I look forward to many more surprises.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.