Actress Konkona Sensharma recently starred in the quirky and twisted web series Killer Soup, co-starring Manoj Bajpayee and directed by Abhishek Chaubey. Though it was promoted as being a crime thriller, it is laced with dark humour, which has become one of the highlights of the show.
In a candid conversation with The Free Press Journal, Konkona shed light on her time on the sets of Killer Soup, censorship on OTT, her approach towards choosing the right script, and more.
How was your experience working with Manoj Bajpayee?
It was fantastic! I had been wanting to work with Manoj Bajpayee for so many years now and I was thrilled when I got the opportunity. But when the shoot commenced, I was a little nervous, because he's a legendary actor who has had such a celebrated career. I thought he'd be a very intense kind of person, very intimidating for me, but he was nothing like that. He has a very easy and casual vibe. He has a certain warmth to his personality, which I love very much. He would cook for us on set. Sometimes, all of us would get together and play games while waiting for the shots. So we had a wonderful bonding experience during the shoot.
In Killer Soup, you had some intimate scenes with Manoj Bajpayee. Are you comfortable performing such scenes on screen?
It depends. If I feel that the scene is not there just for titillation or just to be sensational, then I don't mind. It's also the people you're working with. Abhishek and Manoj made me so comfortable. The atmosphere on set was very easy and it was very private. Everything had been discussed in advance about what I'd be wearing, and how they'd shoot it, so I knew what was going to happen. I didn't feel uncomfortable doing something like that.
Some people have been accusing OTT of promoting violence and vulgarity, and are demanding censorship. What is your opinion?
I don't believe in censorship at all. Of course, shows must be rated U/A or PG-13, so that parents will know what can children watch and what not. But when it comes to adults, there should be no censorship. If people over 18 can vote and choose their leaders and life partners, then why can't they choose their content? There should be a clear warning that it is not suitable for children or that it is violent or sexual, but that's that. After that, I believe adults can make their own decisions.
Do you think the Indian audience is open to exploring the genre of dark comedies?
I was not sure initially, but I am getting so much love for my character Swathi that I feel maybe they are ready. People have rooted for Swathi despite the fact that she's not always behaving in a very correct way. I think people do understand that this is not real life, that it is a work of fiction, that it is a crime thriller. It's supposed to be a dark comedy. Slowly, these things are starting, Especially thanks to OTT, we are getting different kinds of content, and that is very heartening.
In Killer Soup, your character Swathi is borderline obsessed with pursuing her dream. How did you strike the right balance between empathising with her and dreading her?
Honestly, I didn't dread Swathi at all. In fact, I was rooting for her. I never judged her. Also, because of the beautiful way that it's written, I could really see things from Swathi's perspective. And I felt that a lot of women and a lot of viewers will actually understand her. It is a story at the end of the day so nobody is saying that this is the way to behave or anything. Nobody's saying that you have to become like that. But I think people are relating to Swathi because there are a lot of women who have spent their lives devoted to their families and children and looking after the domestic side of things. And then in their later years, in their early 40s, they may have their own dreams and aspirations, which they try to fulfill. That is all Swathi wanted too -- to open her restaurant.
You are a director yourself. So did you exchange some footnotes with Abhishek Chaubey during the shoot of Killer Soup?
The one thing which I discussed with him a lot was the tone of the show, because it was a very unusual script that I had not done before. On one hand, it is a dark comedy, it is a crime thriller, but on the other hand, it does have romance and music, so overall, the show has a very whacky tone. And that is something they have handled quite well. In the beginning, I was not sure about certain things, because it's not like Swathi is finding anything funny or is seeing the humour in her situation. It's the objective audience. For her, it's all very serious where she is dealing with all the horrible things happening to and around her. So striking that balance is something that I discussed with Abhishek about and he helped me a lot.
What is the secret ingredient in your recipe for the perfect act?
When I take up a role, the first thing I check is if there is some merit to the character and if I like the script and the director. It has to excite me, creatively speaking. And once that happens, then I completely devote myself to it. I never think of the outcome. I try to relate to my character as much as possible so that the audience too find it real. I want to be a conduit between the character and the viewer. I have to make that bridge happen with the help of my director, co-actors and the whole crew. That's how I look at it.