‘At least I’ve been able to sustain my desire’: Tillotama Shome

Lust Stories 2 and The Night Manager Part 2...two multi-starrer projects, and Tillotama Shome was hard to miss in either of them.
Actor Tillotama Shome (Photo | Tillotama Shome)
Actor Tillotama Shome (Photo | Tillotama Shome)

BENGALURU: Lust Stories 2 and The Night Manager Part 2...two multi-starrer projects, and Tillotama Shome was hard to miss in either of them. If we go by the meme lingo, then Shome ‘surely understood the assignment’.

In Lust Stories 2 on Netflix, Shome was seen in the short The Mirror, directed by Konkona Sen Sharma, where she plays the role of Isheeta, who is seen watching her house-help Seema (played by Amruta Subhash) having sex with her husband.

While Shome made people empathise with Isheeta, it is also true that she could have been misunderstood. “I did not find her creepy. One cannot control what others feel. We had to make sure Isheeta and Seema understood each other, no matter what was said or unsaid. This rich inner life was the focus. The tone for Isheeta had a sense of lightness and was almost comedic, until the big fight, which they had to perform to fit back into our expected societal role. If you felt empathy for the characters, let me reassure you, it was because of the dialogues,” says Shome.

A still from Lust Stories 2 
A still from Lust Stories 2 

This is the second time Shome is working with Sen Sharma, the previous one was in A Death in the Gunj. Shome has always mentioned how she has been in awe of Sen Sharma’s way of thinking that goes ‘beyond the world of films’. “Our friendship has given me comfort. But this does not mean that I want to work with friends because it can  also get tricky. But with her, I want to, because I know how hard-working she is. Her pre-production is super detailed. Every beat, every shade will be discussed and prepared. She is ready for the battle, rehearsed, her bags are packed, clothes/shoes decided, and pencils sharpened. We are aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” says Shome.

The other release from her was The Night Manager Part 2 on Disney+ Hotstar, where she plays Lipika Saikia Rao, a RAW agent. That part was played by Olivia Colman in the original. However, the actor says she did not watch the original, to avoid any kind of pressure. “Olivia Colman has been incredible, starting from her early works like Tyrannosaurus and Peep Show. I am a massive fan. It would be impossible to unsee what she has done. Besides, India has its own rhythm, especially in the characterisation of someone who works for the government. So I chose to just stick to the adapted screenplay and bring her alive. And I hope and pray that Olivia Colman (if she watches it), does not hate me for it,” adds Shome.

It’s been more than 20 years since her first movie Monsoon Wedding was released, and many are of the view that Shome is finally getting her due credit as an actor. However, she has mixed feelings about it. “Time is relative. So many people live their whole lives not doing what they want to do. At least I was able to sustain my desire to be an actor. I just want to work in a way that allows me to live a balanced life. I really do love acting, and the world of cinema, but I have many other loves too, and they feed each other,” Shome says.

Back in the day
Few might know that actor Tillotama Shome spent some childhood years in Bengaluru, owing to her father’s posting in the city while serving in the Indian Air Force. Apart from that, she was also in the city recently as her husband Kunal Ross works with one of the premium cafes in the city. “I absolutely love that city. My childhood memories of Bangalore are climbing trees, watching Nadia on DD, and eating Softee ice cream from Nilgiris on Sundays. We lived in a colony full of scientists and engineers and celebrated Deepavali, Eid, Christmas and Durga Pooja with equal gusto and were heartfully fed by our 
neighbours” recalls Shome.

Even as many say she is finally getting her due as an actor, Tillotama Shome, who plays the central character in two buzzing OTT releases, counters that she is unlike many who live their whole life not doing what they want to do  

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