08 Jun 2024  |   04:43am IST

Goa has been really special for me in many ways: Anasuya Sengupta

Anasuya Sengupta became the first Indian to be awarded best actress in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ segment at 2024 Cannes Film Festival. The Siolim-based actress was offered the role while living in Goa and one year down the line, she didn’t expect to walk up the stage at set a record for the country at the most prestigious film festival. Speaking exclusively to HERALD CAFÉ, she shares her love for Goa and her journey at Cannes
Goa has been really special for me in many ways: Anasuya Sengupta

Dolcy D’Cruz

From an actress walking the red carpet, to actually walking up the stage and receiving the best actress award in the Un Certain Regard Award category of the 77th Cannes Film Festival or her performance in ‘The Shameless’, Anasuya Sengupta describes this experience as a complete whirlwind. Directed by Konstantin Bojanov, Anasuya plays the role of Renuka in the film along with her co-star Omara Shetty.

“I lucked out because our film screened pretty early which is why I went closer to the beginning of the festival. We as a team got the chance to take it all in. We were there for the following week and so there was a lot of warm response right after the premiere. People wanted to speak with us and wanted to acknowledge it. There was a steady build-up and I still didn’t think it was building up to a best actress award. I was there with my film, hoping that the film would be recognized. But I’m ecstatic about the win,” says Anasuya, as she travels back to Goa for the weekend, making time from her busy schedule in Mumbai.

“As a production designer, you don’t always make it to such a major film festival. To go with my film, playing a lead, it was so charming. It felt so special. Most of my key crew, co-actors were there from different parts of the world. Cinema is something that you cannot make alone. The tone is set with Konstantine being the captain of the ship, who has been with the material for over 10 years. He wanted to tell the story no matter what. All the producers involved worked tirelessly. Our Best Actress Award cannot be given to an entire film, but it’s really for the entire film. I’m happy to be the face and the vessel to walk up to the stage and take it. It’s more than an honour. But what a group effort and an incredible collaborative effort. It’s nothing like I’ve ever felt before,” says reminisces Anasuya of the day she marked her place in the world of Cinema.

In 2020, Konstantin who had been friends with Anasuya over Facebook for a few years, messaged her about casting her in a lead role. With years of planning, they started shooting for the film in Nepal in 2023. “I was there for about three months because Omara and I went in a little bit ahead of time so we could prep a little bit, we could workshop. We shot over probably two months with breaks. What set the ball rolling for me was that I completely fell in love with this character, Renuka. I read the script in one sitting. I have been working in films for several years but not as an actor. I loved the character as it is quite layered. It is gritty, it is dark in spells but there was a tenderness within the character and I think that called out to me and given vis-a-vis similarities. The character is very committed to a sort of freedom and I do resonate with that,” she says.

Born in Kolkatta and making her career in the Indian film industry in Mumbai, Anasuya fell in love with Goa over her multiple trips to the state which allowed her to explore her art further. She moved here in 2020 and has been residing in Siolim with her cat, Mowgli, who is also enjoying her outdoor freedom. “I had a growing connection with Goa for about the last 7-8 years. There was a sense of a community and a more artistic bent of mind that was attractive to me. I’ve been working in films since I was 21 years old and as much as I love every bit of it, my entire Bombay spell, I wanted to make a little bit room in my life for a different kind of artistic expression. That’s actually when I started illustrating. Around 2019, I came with three other women artist friends and we did a self-planned printmaking residency for about two weeks at Hideaway in Vagator. The open house was the first time I ever sold art. Finally, I did come to Goa and I’m still here. Over the years, I have gotten more attracted to living in a more connected way. But again, it’s not always easy to do it when you’re also trying to like make things work and make a career,” she says.

When not moving in and out of Goa for her work, Anasuya makes the most of her time in Goa. “I make a lot of art. I make my own food. I spend a lot of time at home. I ride a lot. I optimize the fact that I have proximity to nature here. I live in a 105-year-old Portuguese villa in Siolim which has also been an absolute blessing, which I have never experienced in my life. I’ve grown up in a middle-class home in Calcutta. I’ve always grown up in apartments. I’ve lived in tiny apartments in Bombay as well,” elaborates Anasuya.

What is the next plan for this artiste? She replies, “There’s some very exciting stuff. I’m just trying to reground myself. I have still not really spent enough time with my family. So, I’m going to navigate it all together. But I know that the next phase will be sifting through exciting stuff. I definitely can’t wait till I act again. I feel confident to act, more simply because it gave me so much happiness. It fulfilled me so much.”

Working for over a decade in the film industry, Anasuya admires many directors, filmmakers and actors who she has been inspired by. However, she would love to work with Anurag Kashyap, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kiran Rao, Zoya Akhtar and Vishal Bajwaj. “There’s so many people. I worked with them, as a very junior person in a production. It’s also exciting for me that, even people that I’ve worked with, I have professional relationships with, they are also taking stock of another side of my capabilities as an actor.”

While Anasuya lives in Goa, her family is spread across different cities of India. Anasuya also met her husband in Goa as he was posted in Goa when they met and then got transferred to Delhi. “Goa has been really special for me in many, many ways. So much of my art coming out of Goa and my experiences here, I don’t think this connection is ever letting up. I feel it’s deepening further. It’s always home to me now. I feel it,” concludes this history maker


Iddhar Udhar