‘I was under the scanner till Chokher Bali’: Raima Sen

Twenty years after her debut, Raima Sen reflects on her career, comparisons with her grandmother Suchitra Sen among other things

Updated - June 25, 2019 01:36 pm IST

Published - June 25, 2019 01:33 pm IST

Karnataka : Bengaluru : 22/06/2019 : Actor Raima Sen interacting with The Hindu in Bengaluru on Saturday 22 June 2019. Photo : Sudhakara Jain / The Hindu.

Karnataka : Bengaluru : 22/06/2019 : Actor Raima Sen interacting with The Hindu in Bengaluru on Saturday 22 June 2019. Photo : Sudhakara Jain / The Hindu.

For Raima Sen, who was part of a family with two successful actresses (mother Moon Moon Sen and grandmother Suchitra Sen), films were neither an active pursuit nor an aversion. They were a part of life. She and her sister, Riya, were occasional child artistes. After growing up, however, she wasn’t craving to get into films. But when Vinay Shukla wanted to cast her in Godmother , she, still in college, didn’t deny the offer.

Raima got one film after another, made by acclaimed directors like Pradeep Sarkar (Parineeta) and Rituparno Ghosh (Chokher Bali). Raima, 20 years since Godmother, believes she has created a niche for herself. She speaks on that among other things to MetroPlus when she was in Bengaluru for the third Bengaluru Bengali Kannada Film Festival.


This is your 20th year in films. How’s the ride been so far?

I did my first film, Godmother , when I was 17. But it was released two years later. So, it’s more than 20 years, actually. But it’s been great. I got lucky. I didn’t have any formal training in acting. I just got good directors.

I got Godmother because Vinay Shukla [the director] was screen-testing in Calcutta. He just saw me and said, ‘You fit the role’.

For Chokher Bali [Raima’s fourth film], the director (Rituparno Ghosh) was the editor of a magazine. I went for a photoshoot. He put a necklace on my head and said you are Ashalata of Chokher Bali . So, I got all of my initial films like that.

Did being a third-generation actor help?

It helps with your first break. But after that, it’s completely up to you. If you aren’t good, then, you won’t get offers. Because so many people have gotten big launches but nothing happened after that.

So, what are the perks and downsides of being a second- or third-generation actor?

Initially, when I entered films, there was too much of expectation and pressure because I was Suchitra Sen’s granddaughter, Moon Moon Sen’s daughter. Will I be able to live up to the reputation of my grandmother was the question. Till Chokher Bali , I felt I was under the scanner. Only after that, I became Raima Sen.

Do you get tired of being compared to your mother or grandmother?

They still do that. In Bengal, they feel I look like my grandmother. So, in my photoshoots and also in my films, they try and do my eye make-up accordingly, so I resemble her. They even approached me to do the biopic of my grandmother. In Bengal, the comparison will always be there. But it’s become kind of a blessing now. I am happy to be compared to my grandmother.

Raima (centre) with mother Moon Moon Sen (left) and sister Riya Sen pay tribute to her late grandmother and yesteryear superstar Suchitra Sen (in photograph) in Kolkata

Raima (centre) with mother Moon Moon Sen (left) and sister Riya Sen pay tribute to her late grandmother and yesteryear superstar Suchitra Sen (in photograph) in Kolkata

Did your mother and grandmother influence you to take up acting?

I’ve always subconsciously wanted to get into acting. Because I saw my mother. I used to go with her. I have done some work with my mother and grandmother as a child artiste.

Almost all of your films are in Hindi and Bengali. Why did you stay away from other language films?

Initially I was doing a lot of Hindi and Bengali films. But I have done a Telugu film, Dhairyam . There’s one Malayalam film, Veeraputhran . There’s a Tamil film I am doing with Vijay Antony. I would love to do more films in other languages as well.

Your filmography suggests that you are choosy about films. How do you pick a film?

If I get five scripts, I just choose two best out of the five. It’s good that I am working in Calcutta. I can sit back and relax and say that ‘I want to do this and don’t want to do that’.

If I didn’t have another industry to fall back on, I would have probably done a lot of films in Bollywood that I didn’t do. My director is my most important criteria. The way the director narrates the story, the vision, that’s very important for me. Instinctively I say, ‘I will do the film’. But if the vision is not strong enough, then, I won’t sign up for it.

You acted in your first web series, Hello , two years ago. How was that experience?

I knew the producer of the show. I have done many films with them. I said okay when they approached me. And, it went on to become a super hit. We are going to do the third season this year. It was quite different. In a web series, you are working on, say, 14 scenes a day, 12 to 14 hours at a stretch.

Films don't have so much pressure. But it was a different experience for me. It was quite enjoyable. And, I will be in a Hindi web series, which will be released this year as well.

Bollywood and other film industries in India have been criticised of not writing good roles for women. Do you think that’s changing now?

No, I have always got good characters. In Bengal, I have done many interesting characters and there have been many female-oriented roles.

Have you ever wanted to do a big budget film?

I have done commercial films like C Kkompany with Tusshar Kapoor and a few others. But this [content-driven films] is my forte, this is where my audience are. And, I am happy doing them. I don’t think they will accept me if I sing and dance. I have experimented with all of that initially. At some point, you create your own niche and own audience.

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