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Konkona Sen Sharma interview On Killer Soup that Wake Up

Konkona Sen Sharma interview: On Killer Soup, that Wake Up Sid ad and more | Web Series

Konkona Sen Sharma has always been mesmerising to watch onscreen, and in Killer Soup, the actor has delivered another unmatched performance. Right from the beginning, her Swathi is the one with the ‘killer’ instinct- plotting, scheming and avenging her way to get what she wants. It’s a nerve-wracking performance, given there are so many things that she feels, hides and suspects at the same time. (Also read: Killer Soup review: A delicious dark comedy saved by Konkona Sensharma)

Konkona Sen Sharma's latest release was Killer Soup.
Konkona Sen Sharma’s latest release was Killer Soup.

In an exclusive chat with Hindustan Times, the actor opened up about the detail that went into creating the character of Swathi- how she had to keep track of the several turns of the story during the shoot, shoot action like she had never done before, and more. Excerpts. (Spoiler alert)

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Congratulations on Killer Soup! I think Swathi is one of the most ‘unhinged’ characters you have played in a while! Talk to me a little bit about your reaction when you first read the script, and whether you had any questions related to the character which you asked in the first place.

(smiles) I was thrilled to get this role! I have been wanting to work with Abhishek Chaubey for a long time, ever since I saw his first film Ishqiya with Vidya (Balan) and I loved it so much. I knew that I could connect it to my world. He has consistently done such interesting work. So, when this came to me I was so excited and reading the script was just a formality to me because I would have agreed to anything that Abhishek wanted me to act in.

Then of course, I was getting to act with Manoj Bajpayee, who I have been such a long time admirer of his work! So, I was thrilled to get this opportunity and I would have agreed to even a cameo with Abhishek but it turned out to be a series! Such a long, interesting, complicated character in a series- and I have not done a crime thriller before! I love crime thrillers, I love the genre. So, I was absolutely eager to explore this character and I knew with someone like Abhishek I would be in good hands. This is the kind of tone that we have not seen too much of- dark humour and the kind that I have not done before so I was eager to do this!

Konkona on working with Abhishek Chaubey.
Konkona on working with Abhishek Chaubey.

Talking of a complicated character, I was stunned how there were eight hour-long episodes with so many twists and turns! I was wondering while I was watching it that did the shoot happen in order? And if not, then how did you even conceptualize everything because that is a different headspace whenever you are in a different scene…

It is so complicated, ya! (smiles) The thing is we can never shoot in order, because what happens is when you are shooting a film its a finite thing. You know that it is a two-hour long film so you can have a grasp of the plot. But here because it is an eight-episode long series and such a complicated plot in terms of its unpredictability, with twists and turns… with things you cannot anticipate. So keeping track of what all Swathi is doing and keeping track of the police investigation… not only Swathi is doing all this but how much the cops are keeping up with it in their investigation, with Nassar Sir’s whole track, his interactions with other people.

That is something that one had to work hard to work hard to be on top of it. Specially because you could be shooting something from Episode 1 in the morning to shooting something for Episode 8 in the evening! So, one had to be very clear about the plotlines. I used to take breakdown of the script from the ADs, they have an one-liner always. To keep track of where we are, ‘Achcha now we are doing Episode 5,’ you know where the character is and you are not just guessing. That is something you need to be on top off in a crime thriller particularly. Plot is important. It is what the characters are doing, why they are behaving in a certain way, what are the consequences of their actions… these all were related. So that was very interesting and quite a challenge as well.

It was quite a task (smiles) but I got a lot of support from the crew! The crew spent so much time with the script that they always know the breakdown really well! So, of course as an actor you have to prepare that tomorrow I have these lines and you have to see for yourself what has happened before and the ADs, the script supervisors and Abhishek was on top of the plot! I used to joke and say that we need to do a pop quiz on the schedule and see who knows the most! (laughs) Because we all have to really know what’s happening.

I was also fascinated with the way Swathi is styled. Even the way her hair was done, and how the vermillion on her forehead was a plot point in itself! I was wondering whether all of it was included from the beginning or whether there were any changes, or suggestions that came along the way…

See, all of this was, as you said, was written into the plot! Her bindi had to be that rising sun! Our look tests were very detailed and extensive. Of course for Prabhakar and Umesh, and both of them which I christened Pramesh as the third character… but, even for Swathi, her look was something that Abhishek, Anuj Dhawan who is our cinematographer, Shivang Kapoor who did the costumes, designed. Just fantastic work! They did so many tests for the bindi! They had different kinds of bindis, how much is registering in the close, what it is looking like from far and then we had to make all those bindis like a tattoo… like a sticker tattoo so that it looks the same. It’s not something that you can draw because it can erased or wiped away.

It was a very challenging series actually, because I have never had to do so much action… even though I am not actually killing or cutting or pushing people as such, but you know I am falling, I am under water…Tamil I had to speak…. then getting slapped around! (laughs) Dragging bodies, injecting morphine… I never had to do things like this before! But it is the attention to detail, the thoroughness of the prep that the team had. We were there in Kerala for three months and it was such a wonderful team to work with. We got to know each other really well! Every department was so thorough, starting from Abhishek Chaubey, who really set the tone, and the prep was so thorough that it made the actor’s job easier.

I really did not improvise very much, because how can you improvise when you have to make sure that you are hitting those points in the plot perfectly and it makes sense! You can’t really improvise except for a few lines here and there which also I have hardly done because I have tried to stick to the lines and dialogues written by our wonderful writers.

On working with Ranbir Kapoor for an advertisement.
On working with Ranbir Kapoor for an advertisement.

I wanted to ask this question since some time. I don’t know if you have noticed but since the last few weeks, there were so many reports of Wake Up Sid 2! Because there were pictures of you with Ranbir and the cast of the film. And then it came as an ad, but still such a wonderful surprise! It’s been 15 years, since Wake Up Sid released, and how was that experience getting back with the team, shooting with the team again?

So lovely! (smiles) Actually, its mainly the actors! You know, Ranbir (Kapoor), Namit (Das), Shikha (Talsania)… four of us were working again, and we were like, ‘Oh my god! We were such babies back in the day! (smiles) Ranbir had just Saawariya I think, so he was also a baby you know! And I was working with Ranbir after Animal and he has become such a big star. Even Namit and Shikha, they have all done such great work. We were meeting after such a long time, and it was a great reunion of sorts. We missed Ayan (Mukerji, the director), but we had the wonderful Shakun Batra, with whom I have been wanting to work with. He is a wonderful director, so I was so lucky! I was so surprised when they approached me for the ad, I was like, ‘Really, Wake Up Sid 2 ka ad you are doing?’ But, I did not anticipate that it would be so popular and so many people would want a sequel!

Isn’t that lovely and wonderful that the audience still want to see these characters…

It is a lovely and warm feeling! (smiles) People really relate to that film, people really relate to Aisha Banerjee, because Mumbai is also the city of migrants you know! It is full of young men and women who come from towns and cities to fulfill their dreams, hopes and ambitions and they really relate to these characters. It is their journeys! As an artist you want to connect to people, that’s the main thing!

I am also Aisha Banerjee’s biggest fan! I am one of those people who has put that picture of you decorating the wall. I did that when I shifted to another house!

That’s too lovely! (smiles) It is there in the ad too! It goes across gender, class and kudos to Amrita Mahal, the production designer of that film! She is so talented, that even today people use it as inspiration. That look! (smiles)

Killer Soup released on Netflix on January 11, 2024.

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