If one is sexy and bold, the other is sedate and suave. Sisters Riya and Raima Sen in a candid conversation.
Hot and happening sisters Riya and Raima come from a family of actors. While some say Riya takes after mother Moon Moon Sen, others feel Raima resembles her grandmother Suchitra Sen. They both began acting around the same time and have carved a niche for themselves a decade later. They are similar yet different. Having completed their first bilingual film together they open up to NXg about each other, their films and their future plans.
Kashmakash is your first movie together... How was it on the sets?
Raima: We did not have a single scene together. But I did go to the sets as it was her first Bengali film to make sure she had everything she needed. I helped her break the ice with the staff.
Riya: Yeah it was our first film together but we weren't sharing any scenes. So I didn't really get a chance to be with her on the sets or share screen space.
What did you learn from each other?
Raima: Riya knows what she wants from everybody. She never compromises; she manages to get work done. She is much stronger than I am. When I want something I never know how to go about it. I will feel bad or complain but she is very forthright and most people are quite scared of her. It's probably good because whatever she does comes out perfect. I have a lot of patience and keep quiet about things which may be good but not at work. She's tough and I admire that about her.
Riya: Well she's always looked after me like an older sister. She' selfless and simple at heart and extremely hardworking. What I like about her is that with these characteristics she is also very detached and does not let anything bog her down.
How did your mom, also an actor, influence your career?
Raima: Initially she did not want us to enter films. She wanted us to pursue higher studies. But she was not an interfering mother. She has let us take our own decisions but advised us not to blame her later if things did not go well. She is our friend and strongest critic. Whenever she watches a movie she will tell us what we should have done better… I don't tell her why I am signing a film so in that sense she never interferes but she tells us how to prepare or what to wear...
Riya: My mom has been my greatest influence ever since we were little girls. We always wanted to emulate her… we were in awe of her.
Your most memorable role...
Raima: “Chokher Bali”. It was the turning point in my career and my biggest film back then. I had barely done three films before that so working with someone as big as Rituparna Ghosh changed my life.
Riya: “Noukodubi” of course. No one would have ever imagined I could play this kind of a role... And this made it challenging.
What's the difference between Hindi and Bengali films?
Raima: Bengali commercial cinema has a long way to go. Recently there was a film called “Autograph”, which was not an art film but did well commercially. A lot of young directors are making successful films. They still remake a lot of south and Hindi cinema.
Riya: Well, Hindi films are today mostly bigger in budget. Also you can't really compare the two sets of audience, their tastes are very different. Art films do well with the audience in Bengal and the Malayalam industry, whereas the Hindi film plays it more safe, I'd say.
What do you look for in a script?
Raima: It's the story that's most important. Even if it's not the main role, my role should be important; it should help the story move forward.
Riya: I look for a good director, a good story and my role.
How different or similar are you as siblings?
Raima: We are very similar in terms of taste, likes dislikes and friends. We love travelling together. We are different temperamentally.
Riya: Similar yet very different. It's like we have the same goals but a different approach in getting them.
Plans for the future...apart from films?
Raima: Right now it's only movies. I plan to get married and settle down at some point. I would want to work for some charitable institution but as an actor if you say something like this it will always be misconstrued. So I refrain. But I enjoy working for charitable organisations a lot. And maybe it will happen eventually in Kolkata.
Riya: I haven't really planned my future. But I do want to have travelled the world. I'm very happy with my lifestyle as it is!
How do you handle controversies and rumours?
Raima: My father's not from the film industry and so he taught my mother never to bother; they taught us the same thing. We don't read too much into it because any kind of publicity is good publicity.
Riya: I don't handle them. I read about my fictitious affairs and have a good laugh !
Your tryst with movies with other languages?
Raima: I think Malayalam is the most difficult language because I can't understand it. But doing more films in a particular language will help as you may not learn the language but will at least get the hang of it.
Riya: The directors I've worked have been very good. Each has taught me a lot. It's been amazing experience to adapt to different cultures within the same society and actually feel it for yourself.
A childhood grudge against the other
Raima: Riya would always think what my mother bought for me was better. I would choose the not-so-nice one; then she would ask for that. Ultimately I would get what I wanted.
Riya: None. She's always been the more giving
Raima: “Raakh” in Hindi, “23 Shrabon” in Bengali.
Riya: Special appearance in “Tere Mere Phere”; a few more in the pipeline
Quick fix make-up tip
Raima: Always carry kajal and gloss.
Riya: Clean face and kohl
Raima: I try to workout when am not shooting. Am into weight training and hot Yoga.
Riya: Hot Yoga