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Exclusive! Konkona Sensharma: Mumbai Diaries 26/11 gave us a different perspective of the terrorist attack

Konkona plays a social services director in the upcoming Amazon Originals series Mumbai Diaries 26/11

Sunidhi Prajapat
Aug 31, 2021
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Konkona Sensharma

Konkona Sensharma has been winning the hearts of the people with various roles in her recent films and shows. Whether it’s Ajeeb Daastaans’ Bharti Mandal or as Dolly in Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare, the actress is known to portray distinctive characters in all her projects, which turn out to be extremely impactful. The Life in a Metro actress is gearing up for her upcoming release on Amazon Prime Video Mumbai Diaries 26/11, a medical drama based on the real-life events of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

OTTplay caught up with the actress about the forthcoming show and her character as well. Konkona also revealed her thoughts about OTT censorship, upcoming projects and more. Excerpts:

Earlier this year, Konkona has played two distinct characters in Ramprasad Ki Terhvi and Ajeeb Daastaans. When quizzed about her character in Mumbai Diaries 26/11, the actress tells us that her character, Chitra Das, is not exactly a doctor in the show but she comes from a medical background.

“She is a social services director who looks after the patients in this government hospital who need financial help. This character is not very fiery or fully confident but is someone who experiences self-doubt many times due to her dark past. However, when needed, she displays exemplary courage,” she added.

Talking about the prep and research that went on for the project, Konkana firstly that though the horrifying event happened 12 years ago, most of the people related to the show happen to be residents of Mumbai who have a memory attached to the incident.

"For the show, often one needs to research when your character is very different from you, geographically, economically, socially and culturally. Yet, that was not the case here. This is not something like Omkara, where it's a very rural character, speaking in some UP dialect where you have to do more research. Here, in this case, she's not that different from my real self,” the actress revealed.

Furthermore, she added that all actors who were playing characters related to the medical field (including her) had a great experience at the workshop where they learnt to behave naturally as medical professionals. “So, that was a fun thing to do. We did a lot of reads, rehearsals, discussions with the team etc. And it was a lovely icebreaker, for all of us,” she concluded.

While there have been quite a few movies and shows based on 26/11 attacks – they’ve mostly highlighted the perspective and story of the police and the commandos. How important do you think it was to bring this side of the incident to light, where the focus is on the doctors and hospitals? "Yeah, that's actually what I found new and interesting about this show; that it's really a medical drama," Konkana replied in the affirmative.

“It's really a homage to the frontline workers. And even though as Mumbaikars, we all know about this incident, we know the outcome we've lived through all these years, we have the memory of it. We've survived it.  It's in our collective consciousness but I never really thought of it from the inside or from the point of view of somebody who's in the hospital (when it was under siege). So, that was quite challenging and eye-opening and gave us a very fresh perspective,” she added.

When asked about any role/character she had missed out on playing or wants to, the actress said, “I feel very blessed that I've got so many different kinds of roles and have played so many different kinds of things. I have to say that I feel blessed that now later in my career, I'm still getting some interesting roles to play and I think it's because of the OTT space. We have some diversity in content. Now, because there's so much content, we are open-minded about the different kinds of characters we can portray. We don't only have to see young women, we can see older women, we can see women as villains and I would love to play a villain."

Konkana has predominantly worked in both Hindi cinema and Bengali cinema. Ask her about how different she finds both the spaces in terms of work culture, she replies, “I've heard from other people that the work culture in Bangali cinema is kind of very relaxed and very slow. And they do their afternoon siesta and things like that. I've never really experienced it myself personally. We have shot a full Bengali feature film in 15 to 17 days. So, I don’t see any difference between the two industries."

When asked if we can see her on the director’s chair again after her 2017 directorial debut A Death In Gunj, the actress jokes that she has no idea about it. “These days, I think of myself primarily as an actor and luckily I’ve got some great roles to keep me busy. And also I have a 10-year-old son, so I don’t have much time on my hands. Also, direction is such a hard job, for which you are not very well paid, especially the kind of movies that I want to make. So, I’m not sure for now,” Konkona shared.

Ask her what matters the most while taking up a new project, the actor replies, “I first and foremost, try to see if it's a well-written script because that is the main thing that guides you through what kind of thought has gone behind creating this world with these characters. Sometimes I see if it's a director with whom I can get along well or have a good rapport.”

Konkana, discussing her views about the sudden burst of content on OTT platforms, said that the scenario is much better than before. “Now, more and more people are getting work, because one has to produce that much content for so many platforms. Many good performers may not have got their due in the mainstream space and now due to OTT, they are getting good work. It’s nice that more, writers, technicians and aspiring actors are getting work too,” she added.

There’s a lot of debate going on about censorship on OTTs. What’s her take on that? “I’m completely anti-censorship and I feel that we do not need to have any kind of censorship. I only understand the rating that says that certain content is adult content or so. Now, it depends on the parents what they want their child to watch, my parents let me watch all sorts of films and shows and I think it brought a certain maturity to my perspective."

She further added, “We are adults who vote for our leaders, so surely we can decide what to watch.”

Talking about her upcoming project, the actress revealed that she recently completed a project with her mother, Aparna Sen, which is a film based on a hard-hitting subject. Apart from Konkona, it also features Arjun Rampal and Tanmay Dhanania. “The film is going to screened the Busan International Film Festival soon,” Konkona signs off.

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