An Indian actress par excellence, Konkona Sen Sharma needs no introduction today. She is not a quintessential Indian ‘heroine’; much rather she is a stellar ‘sustained’ actress who can be identified for her groundbreaking filmography and her prolific range of acting. Her performance is defined by her nuanced manner of presence, her piercing gaze, and exemplary portrayal of her characters. She was ‘discovered’ by the Indian film industry a little after she got on in the Bengali films. Primarily making appearances in arthouse independent films, Konkona is a well-established name in contemporary parallel cinema. Besides, the uninhibited selection of her films, rife with fierce themes and social issues, have earned her enough laurels in the commercial Indian film industry as well.

Daughter to the filmmaker-actress Aparna Sen, Konkona is the recipient of two National Film Awards and four Filmfare Awards. Other than a singular child debut in the film Indira (1983), Konkona Sen Sharma primarily started her career with a Bengali film Ek Je Achche Kanya (2000) but gained instant accolades and fame in 2002 with the release of critically acclaimed English language film- Mr. & Mrs. Iyer directed by her mother herself. Soon after, she started making her mark in commercial Bollywood films like Omkara (2006) and Life in a Metro (2007), etc. which earned her wider recognition and international appreciation. In 2017, she also stepped into the directorial stream with ‘A Death in the Gunj’. And how!

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Since she is a powerhouse of such talent and artistry, and she plays each character with such tenacity and adroitness, it was particularly hard to rank her films in order of her performance. Nevertheless, we did give it a try. So without further ado, let’s dive straight in and find out the top 15 films of Konkona Sen Sharma in the order from the least good to the best.

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15. Saari Raat (2015)

15 Konkona Sen Sharma

Directed by mother Aparna Sen, Saari Raat is based on a play by Bengali writer Badal Sircar. The film features a couple- Konkona and Ritwick Chakraborty, who get caught up on a stormy night and take refuge in a dilapidated house. Here they are met by an elderly man- Anjan Dutt, who tries to extract life secrets from the couple. What begins as a spooky night turns to be more cryptic than one can expect. Other than the eerie setting, the air around the house is impregnated with a sense of mystery.

Konkona’s character has various shades to it- she starts off as a docile, chatty wife who transitions into a more composed person pondering on her bygone life. Towards the climax, this changes to her huge declarations of love and a passionate outbreak of expression. Played with much gusto and relish, Konkona’s performance is nothing short of enchanting.

14. Life in a Metro (2007)

14 Konkona Sen Sharma

Life in a Metro was a multi-starrer film that explored parallel narratives of different characters. Konkona’s Shruti was more of the romantic comedy dissection of the film that played the young Indian unmarried woman on a lookout to find a husband. Paired against the late wonder Irrfan Khan, Sharma’s Shruti was the bemused representation of several other Indian girls who go through this conundrum at least once in their adult lives.

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Shruti is confident and not ready to settle for less, but the neverending search for a groom brings out a certain pathos in her character. And it wouldn’t be wrong to say that none other but Konkona could have played the ambivalence in Shruti’s character with such conviction and certitude.

13. Luck by Chance (2009)

13 Konkona Sen Sharma

Directed by Zoya Akhtar, Luck By Chance is a film about the film industry where Konkona plays the character of Sona Mishra- a young struggling actress trying to make her mark in the very delirious and uncertain film industry. During the course of it, she meets Vikram Jaisingh (Farhan Akhtar) who she gets romantically involved with.

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Sona’s character is borrowed from the millions of women who go to Mumbai each day in the pursuit of their dreams and who are also continuously manipulated for personal gains. Sona also faces the sudden detachment and change of interest from her boyfriend who luckily rose to fame overnight. 12 years later, it is still a sheer delight to watch Konkona as Sona, who is simply a natural in front of the camera- a feisty, flawed, and yet a lovely character.

12. Omkara (2006)

12 Konkona Sen Sharma

Konkona Sen Sharma plays a small, supporting character but a very memorable role in Omkara as Indu Tyagi- wife to Langda Tyagi. Based on the Shakespearean play ‘Othello’, Omkara follows the tragic love story of Omi (Ajay Devgan) and Dolly (Kareena Kapoor) who fall in love and almost get married. But thanks to the politics of the community, Langda Tyagi sows a seed of jealousy in Omi that blooms and eventually ends up making him kill Dolly in cold blood. All this while, Indu (played by Konkona Sen Sharma) stands as a bystander as a simple village woman torn between brotherly love (for Omi) and loyalty (for her husband) till she finally realizes the heinous crime that her husband has committed with her aid.

Indu is a plain village woman who finds joy in the mundane things of life- she is accustomed to the culture and plays the role of a responsible elder daughter-in-law. Contrary to the length of the film where Indu’s character is slightly linear, the climax gives Konkona wings and a platform to channel all her energy which she did. And how! Another notable and appreciable factor about her character is the language and dialect which Sen Sharma aced with such mastery and skill.

11. Talvar (2015)

11 Konkona Sen Sharma

Based on true events of the Arushi Talvar Murder Case in Noida, Talvar is a hair-raising and terrifying tale of the Talvar family who got caught up in the double murder case of their 14-year-old daughter- Arushi Talvar and their domestic help- Hemrak. Directed by the very talented Meghna Gulzar, the names in the movies have been changed for identity purposes however, there is no big secret about it. Sen Sharma plays the character of Nutan Tandon, wife of Ramesh Tandon (Neeraj Kabi) and mother to the deceased Shruti Tandon. Although most screen time is taken up by none other than the remarkable Irrfan Khan, as the hardened investigator, Konkona nails the character in a way that a not-so-big role stands out, credit to her natural flair and caliber.

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Konkona Sen Sharma, as Nutan, gives a super sharp performance right from the start displaying the ambiguity of grief. Her horror on discovering her daughter’s murder, her wrath and agony on her husband being convicted, her numbness in the inefficiency of the system, and her subdued relief on being cleared from all charges, are just a few of the many highlights of her brilliant acting in the film.

10. Page 3 (2005)

10 Konkona Sen Sharma

Directed by Madhur Bhandarkar, Page 3 is a film based on Mumbai’s elite where Konkona plays the character of Madhvi Sharma- a young journalist trying to find her voice. Coming from a small town, Madhvi starts as a celebrity reporter who has to attend Page 3 parties and feature them. During the course of it, she discovers the gory details and grimy truths of the film industry. A few special incidents like her depressed pregnant roommate trying to commit suicide and her boyfriend secretly being gay puts her off to the extent that she changes her stream and moves to the crime beat section of the newspaper. Contrary to what she thought, the high and wealthy of the B-Town control that aspect as well and she soon realizes that there is only so much that one can do.

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Considering the year that the film was released, the role was not only a challenging one but also threw a blinding light on the film industry. Konkona’s performance as an ambitious outsider in search of the truth (inside and outside of the film) was received with much aplomb. Madhvi’s plight of not being to fight against the system or her agony of constantly being let down is superbly captured by Konkona and that is what makes the film a persuasive and compelling watch.

9. Mr. & Mrs. Iyer (2002)

Directed by the writer-director-actress Aparna Sen, Mr. & Mrs. Iyer is one of the most critically acclaimed films of Konkona’s career and also for Indian cinema. Based on the sectarian violence between Hindus and Muslims in India, the film was a larger comment to end communal riots all over the world. It’s almost been two decades but the film is still relevant and unfortunately, the communal riots still continue. Konkona plays the character of a married Tam Brahm woman- Meenakshi Iyer who was en route to Kolkata with her infant son Santharam. On her mother’s request, a family acquaintance Raja (Rahul Bose) who was also traveling in the same bus, agreed to ensure the safety of Meenakshi and her baby. Mid journey, riots break off and alternatively, Konkona ended up safeguarding the life of Raja by pretending that he is not a Muslim but her husband- Mr. Iyer.

Although Mr. & Mrs. Iyer is one of the early works of Konkona yet nowhere that reflects in the character. In the role of Meenakshi, Konkona comes across as a tamed, docile Tam Brahm married woman. Her character grew from being a stereotypical upper-caste Hindu who had her reservations about having a Muslim man’s water to the woman who experienced a beautiful bond with the same man over the course of her journey. The tenacious pain in her eyes at the last railway station scene was enough emotive validation of her brief but the honest relationship with Raja. And also a testament to Konkona’s extraordinary craftsmanship and acting flair.

8. Kadambari (2015)

Kadambari (2015) is an adaptation of the namesake short story written by the legendary author Rabindranath Tagore. Kadambari (the film) is based on Rabindranath Tagore’s sister-in-law of the same name who inspired his early works of poetry and prose. Here Konkona plays the character of Kadambari and brings a captivating disposition to it through her amicable acting prowess. Wedded to a much older man at the young age of nine years, she found her relief in Rabindranath (her husband’s younger brother of the same age as her) to dispel the loneliness and isolation that was subjected on her by society and her husband.

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Konkona plays the character of Kadambari with much grit and verve, be it the friendship between herself and Robi, or the playfulness in the way she chides him, or the insecurity she feels for him, or the heartache that she feels on discovering her husband’s mistress’s pregnancy. And although the first shot of the film determines the climax, you will still be as moved by Kadambari’s fate towards the end, thanks to Konkona’s genius and expertise.

7. Wake Up Sid (2009)

07 Konkona Sen Sharma

Wake Up Sid is one of Konkona’s more commercially successful films where she plays the role of Aisha- a young, aspiring writer from Kolkata who is a newcomer in the big city of Mumbai. Here she meets Sid (Ranbir Kapoor)- a privileged, college boy who lives off his father’s riches. Obviously, the duo falls in love without realization and eventually unites in what we can call a coming-of-age climax. Ayesha’s character is nuanced in her own way- her struggle of settling in the new city, her ambitions of being a writer, and handling a man-child in the form of Sid.

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Of course, Konkona does justice to the role in her very quintessential Konkona way- her brief pauses in between sentences represent her hesitation against helping Sid, her dull eyes on getting recognition from her boss, her outburst of anger when she couldn’t take it any longer and lastly, the sparkle in her eyes on realizing that she is unconsciously in love with Ranbir. All in all, once again Konkona delivers a remarkable performance and makes Aisha one of the most memorable characters in the history of modern Indian cinema.

6. Dolly Kitty Aur Wo Chamakte Sitare (2019)

Alankrita Shrivastava’s ‘Dolly Kitty’ is a feministic faith film that explores the repressed sexuality and journeys of two women based in the urban concrete jungles of Noida. Konkona plays Dolly- wife, mother, and sister to the other complex characters in the film. A performance-heavy character, Dolly is struggling with an unrequited relationship with her mother, a sexually inactive dynamic with her husband, a cross-dressing sensitive son, and a sister who is repeatedly being hit on by her husband. She faces a constant dilemma to choose between what is making her happy and what is ‘right’. Unfortunately, there is no one correct answer to that and that’s what furthers the film.

Dolly finds her solace in a young Amol Parasher and that becomes the first rung of the ladder of liberation for Dolly. The ill-fated and untimely death of Parasher also gives her the strength to stand up for herself towards the end of her film. Boasting a remarkable representation of all these emotions and more, Konkona delves deeper into the complexity and emotes the intricacies with much poise and aplomb. The coming-of-age film for Dolly does have its loopholes but thankfully the same cannot be said for Konkona- she has outdone herself yet again and we’d give her full 5 chamakte sitare for this one.

5. Iti Mrinalini (2010)

05 Konkona Sen Sharma

Directed by the filmmaker-actress Aparna Sen, Iti Mrinalini (aka The Unfinished Letter) is a story about a veteran actress Mrinalini Mitra who is writing a suicide note in the final hours of her life. While the present-day version of the protagonist is played by Aparna Sen herself, the youth is played by her daughter Konkona Sen Sharma. And mind you the resemblance is striking. Both women have nailed the performances with such mastery that you will be awed just by watching them on screen. The film goes back in time to explain the many reasons for Mrinalini’s decision to kill herself. It explores a very important theme in a very subtle way- a ‘heroine’ being a mistress to her married director.

Konkona enacts the extremely emotionally challenging and chaotic role with natural ease and artistry. Mrinalini was first chided by her ‘activist’ boyfriend for accepting a commercial film role, later she was emotionally manipulated by her director (with whom she had an extramarital affair), and then she was taken advantage of by her younger director. Konkona brings to light the inner turmoils of a woman who has not been wanted and valued despite being so desirable, so wealthy, and so successful. Sen Sharma fits into and depicts different shades and milestones of Mrinalini’s life with extreme sensitivity and aptitude; be it the joy of her stardom, or the dilemma about her relationship with Sidhartha, or her pain about the loss of her daughter.

4. Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016)

With a controversial theme and primarily an all-female cast, Lipstick Under My Burkha created quite a stir on its release and was eventually endorsed as one of the best feministic films of our times. Konkona plays the key role of Shireen Aslam who is a combination of an oppressed Muslim woman and a hopeful symbol of feminist faith. Considered to be one of the most complex characters, Aslam is a woman who is dealing with her patriarch husband who not only mishandles her but also rapes her. If that was not enough, he also had an extramarital affair going on the side which is eventually discovered by Shireen.

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In between domestic oppression, non-consensual sex, multiple abortions, and an abusive husband, Shireen finds her respite in her part-time job as a sales rep which she keeps a secret. Konkona portrays the compelling helplessness and hapless fate of Shireen with much acuity and brilliance in a very unassuming way. In the skin of Aslam, she leaves indelible impressions on the audience not just by the vigor of her character but also by her moral fiber and intelligible acting prowess.

3. Ajeeb Dastaans (2021) (Segment: Geeli Puchi)

03 Konkona Sen Sharma

Directed by Neeraj Ghaywan, the short film ‘Geeli Puchi’ is part of the four shorts anthology ‘Ajeeb Daastaans’ which features Konkona Sen Sharma in a leading role. In what is considered a social commentary on the deep-rooted prejudices of our times, Sen Sharma plays Bharti Mandal- a Dalit girl who works as an assembly line factory worker and is struggling to climb up the ladder of success only due to her lower caste. Her competition is an upper caste, conventionally feminine woman ‘Priya’ who gets the white-collar data operator job despite her being less efficient than Bharti.

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Bharti Mandal is an extremely skillfully fleshed-out character that stands at the intersectionality of caste, gender, and sexuality, thrice as marginalized. And Konkona has taken on Mandal with such adroitness that it is difficult to tell one from the other. Her expertise as an actor reflects in Bharti’s body language, her agency over herself and others, and her expression of anger, love, and revenge. Konkona deftly plays the part of a miffed co-worker that eventually softens to give space to the blooming of a wonderful bond between the two women. And yet again, she is strong enough to not be misled and take a stand for herself when she feels that Priya is never going to take a stand for her. The transition in her character is as smooth as it can get resulting in making it one of Konkona’s best performances to date.

2. Dosar (2006)

Dosar is yet another exemplary Bengali film shot in monotone and directed by Rituparno Ghosh. Sen Sharma plays the character of a married woman Kaberi whose world comes shattering down on finding out about her husband’s long ongoing affair. A more biting fact is that she discovers it when the husband and the mistress met with an accident while returning from a vacation. While the mistress dies on the spot, the husband survives and is rushed to the hospital where he is gradually nursed. Kaberi is a woman who is constantly struggling with the afterthoughts of being a peripheral presence in her husband’s life while his mistress was alive. And that comes out in various shades throughout the length of the film.

While she maintains her calm at most times, there are instances when her inner clash is very evident. Konkona, in the skin of Kaberi, tries really hard to come to terms and deal with the caustic incident and at the same time, she struggles to nurse her bereft and bereaved husband. The balance gets overwhelming for her when she breaks up in the hospital. Dosar is a remarkable representation of a betrayed woman without victimizing her or antagonizing the partner, and Konkona’s representation of Kaberi’s emotions from denial to anger to acceptance to empathy for her husband is what makes her stand out.

1. 15 Park Avenue (2005)

01 Konkona Sen Sharma

We have said before that ranking Konkona’s films has been a task, to begin with, owing to the brilliant canvas of her filmography. But when it came to deciding the best of the lot, we did not have to think twice- that is how good 15 Park Avenue is. Touted to be ‘hauntingly’ beautiful, Sen Sharma plays the role of a 30 something-year-old ‘Mithi’ in 15 Park Avenue who is a patient of schizophrenia. The film follows the life of Mithi in time and back to reveal how the tragedy came about and how she deals with it. As a schizophrenic woman living in a parallel universe, Konkona Sen Sharma portrays the character with such unnerving grit and verve that as an audience your heart will go out for Mithi.

Mithi is a victim of gang rape, who has undergone depression and shock therapy (just to name a few), and yet in no way she succumbs to her environment. She believes in her reality as much as anyone else. She believes she is married with 5 kids and so it is, and she only rests when she has found her ‘home’. As a viewer, you can almost feel Mithi’s pain when she is not allowed to go visit her husband and kids. Other than a questioning delusion from reality, there is a constant tug of expression between the docile mannerisms that are a hallmark of her character and the angst that she has at the present, and Konkona aces it with extreme proficiency and prowess. In short, Konkona’s portrayal of Mithi is nothing short of phenomenal, and saying anything less than that will be an understatement.

Konkona Sen Sharma Links: IMDb, Wikipedia

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