Still from the film
Award-winning actress Konkona Sen Sharma has the amazing ability to straddle varied languages, genres and narrating styles. All this reflects in her peculiar choice of cinema. We all remember her in Mr. and Mrs. Iyer which got her the much deserved national attention, although that was long after she made her debut as a child in Bengali cinema. Today, she effortlessly juggles both Hindi and Bengali cinema, balancing turns in Omkara, Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge, Wake Up Sid, Luck by Chance and Page 3 with Bengali movies such as Ek Je Aachhe Kanya, Titli and Dosar among others. Last year her admirers saw her in Talwar and the power-packed Akira. A Death in the Gunj came into the scene sometime later, when Konkona was spending time with her father Mukul Sharma while her house was under renovation. The movie opens today!
Forty kilometres northwest of Ranchi, McCluskieganj is a small town in Jharkhand state. It is perhaps the only Anglo-Indian village in the entire country. The town, not very popular with the average tourist, once housed Konkona’s grandparents who played host to Sen’s entire family every once in a while. Their shenanigans on such getaways played the principal inspiration for A Death in the Gunj. ‘Lots of stories were born during those trips. My dad is a very charismatic man; he used to tell me some very funny family anecdotes from those vacations and some slightly odd ones too, but there was one particular story that was more interesting than the others. There was something eerie about it. I used to tell him to repeat his accounts again and again. So he eventually wrote a short story on it, which was a few pages long and then finally from that I developed a screenplay.’ At the crux, the film is about unraveling the mystery behind an unexplained murder in the remote rural home where the family has gathered to celebrate New Year. The 110-page script that Konkona finds hard to shrink to a blurb has a very promising cast. An ensemble of veterans such as Om Puri and Tanuja take the lead and the younger lot comprising Vikrant Massey, Kalki Koechlin, Tilotama and Ranvir Shorey add the edge that you would expect from a Konkona Sen Sharma film. With Abhishek Chaubey turning producer for the first time, the film’s world premiere took place at the 21st Toronto International Film Festival earlier last year; its Asian premiere was held at the 21st Busan International Film Festival and it was also chosen as the opening film for the 18th Mumbai Film Festival.
Text Hansika Lohani Mehtani