Everybody juggles home and work, but for actress Rituparna Sengupta, juggling her home and work means shuttling between different cities. With her houses in three different cities — Singapore, Calcutta and Bombay — and her work requiring her to visit different places of the world, travelling has become a way of life for her. On her birthday, the actress, who lives life with a suitcase always packed and whose shoes are always ready to take her where she needs to be, gives us a peek into this side of her life that is not known to many. With an exclusive shoot at Vythiri Village Resort and Spa in Kerala and a heart-to-heart chat, she spoke to The Telegraph all about travelling and home.
Happy Birthday! How are you planning to celebrate your birthday this year?
This year my birthday is a little different as I am in the US, travelling for work. I cannot have a planned birthday celebration this year. But I will be doing something special with the specially-abled children whom I work for. I will also have a small celebration with family and friends. My celebration will be simple yet meaningful this year. After returning from the US, I will have a quiet celebration with my family, dear friends, my mother and my mother-in-law and then travel to Singapore. I had a pre-birthday celebration with my son who is in Boston now. This birthday will be a little hectic as I have to return to shoot within a few days.
What does birthday mean to you now? Has its meaning changed for you over the years?
Meaning of birthday has definitely changed but a simple thing has not changed. Every birthday I have to feel pampered. I start the day with blessings from my elders, cards and cakes. Surprise wishes pour in from people who mean a lot to me. During childhood, my mother used to make mutton ghugni on every birthday. A tailored birthday dress was the most important thing. My birthday used to always come after the festive season. Till today I get so many wishes, love and affection from everyone. Each year is filled with gratitude. I am looking forward to a positive year.
How often do you travel?
I just live my life literally hopping in and out of places! (Laughs) So my bag is always packed. I have a little suitcase which is always packed. My husband (Sanjay Chakrabarty) always complains about me living my life out of a suitcase and says that I never really found a home. That’s the way it has been for all these years. Now, my travelling has increased even more because after the pandemic our work has also accelerated and there is so much happening. I travel more frequently these days but I am used to it. People always ask me how I manage work and home, more so because I have homes in so many places. I just try to be at all the places, balancing work and home. My family is very important to me but I also have to keep up with my work pace, so I have made a decision to travel back to Singapore to my home every time I am done with work.
Easy-to-wear and a smart style, too, one can never go wrong with a sneaker-dress combo on a vacation. Rituparna channelled a relaxed vibe in this blue ajrakh block-printed sleeveless cotton dress with Mughal floral motifs all over, paired with a block-printed ajrakh shrug from Earthwear.
What does travelling mean to you?
Travelling gives me a lot of energy but I mostly travel for work. And I always look forward to travelling back home. But it was great travelling to Vythiri Village. We took a car ride to the location from the airport and realised things have changed so much over the years. I love car rides as it makes me realise a lot of things that we otherwise tend to miss out in our day-to-day busy lives. On our way, we got to witness the beautiful nature… the natural streams, the rain and sunshine, we crossed through a natural reserve… the experience was very beautiful. Life for me is about moving and I have not stopped moving and I have not stopped dreaming. These are the two things which basically keep me going because if I stop these two, I won’t be myself. That will be somebody else.
Travelling to Vythiri Village was also a work vacay for you…
I had a film festival to attend in Bangalore for my film Mahishasur Marddini... I planned the trip accordingly from Bangalore. I wanted to do the Kerala trip because it was long overdue. Kerala is known to be a picturesque place. But we know Kerala mostly for its backwaters. However, it has a lot more to offer. Vythiri Village was so different and we had experienced so many different things there during our stay.
Did you visit Kerala before or is this your first time?
I have visited before. I did a movie in Kerala, a Malayalam film directed by Sohanlal. I also did Ajay Verma’s film which was not released. I have connections there. Kerala is a place where I have always wanted to go but still haven’t seen the backwaters. But Vythiri was such a revelation for us.
Kaftans are in trend and spell out comfort like nothing else. Rituparna chose to pair her jeans with a stunning chanderi and jamdani kaftan top from Nameg.
What do you look forward to most during travelling?
I am a foodie and I find out all the places where we can go and eat. I enjoy that part. I am very adaptable and can adapt to new things. I try to find out about the street food, local food as well as restaurant food.
What are the five must-haves in your travel bag?
Clothes, laptop, shoes, medicines and books.
Do you get to plan any vacations apart from work vacays?
No! (Laughs) Everybody tells me to take a break and go simply on a vacation. But I always feel if I can do the two together that’s more purposeful. I will always choose that rather than just going on a vacation. But my children are demanding a vacation from me without work and I am trying to do that for them. But it is always good when I can combine the two together.
While travelling is so much about comfort, it is about styling the looks right, too. After all, pictures are clicked and memories are made during travel. This comfy handwoven silk dress from Earthwear is designed with intricate kantha embroidery on the front panel and teamed with a block-printed silk stole, worn as a turban to protect the hair and style up, too.
You have homes in so many places but which place comes to your mind first when one says ‘home’?
I feel my home has always been Calcutta. I was born and raised here. I have got fantastic memories of this place… memories of childhood. But now obviously I will call Singapore home because Singapore has been my base for a long long time now. We were in the US for a while but US didn’t work out for us as a home because of my work , Sanjay’s work, the children growing up and it was like a huge catastrophe for us . Singapore is more convenient and Sanjay says it is the best place to live in the world. I feel very peaceful every time I go there. It gives me solace when I go there after completing all my work around the world. And now, I have two more babies there. My two little puppies. I really miss them. They are so cuddly and loving. Whenever I push the door and put my foot inside, they come all over me. They are so happy to see me and I also wait to see them.
What does home mean to you?
Home is where your heart is. Singapore has always been that place for me, where I feel happy with my children. Singapore has been my priority.I always look forward to coming back home. That is when I feel serene. To know someone is waiting for me, a lot of love and warmth waiting for me is beautiful.
Pictures: Pabitra Das
Hair and make-up:Femy Antony
Denims are travel-friendly and can be paired with a host of styles, perfect for packing light. Rituparna paired her denim pants with this tussore silk kurta detailed with golden zari work from Nameg, perfect for an ethnic look.
STYLIST SPEAK: Rituparna lives out of a suitcase for years now. Work is where her home is and family is where her heart is.
For the first look, we chose to shoot it on a bridge as her most trying times is spent trying to connect the different places in her life, where she has work, family and other commitments to fulfill. The bridge connects one area of the resort to the other. For the second shot we chose to do it on the bridge over a flowing stream. She has crossed many years of her life overcoming a lot of obstacles like many others, and she is flowing like a stream. So, we chose this spot. The third shot on the Kerala boat resembles the journey, it resembles taking life ahead and trying to reach her destinations. The fourth and fifth shots show the road and the walkway which resemble how she is cheering herself with a jig in the rain while walking ahead on the long road that lies ahead of her.
We are used to seeing her in heavy make-up. Here we tried to keep the looks minimal and natural, enhancing her features and natural look with simple hairstyles and minimum make-up — Jeena Mitra Banik
“It gives me immense pleasure to host the National Award-winning actor Rituparna Sengupta at the Vythiri Village Resort and Spa. It was indeed an honour that she chose Vythiri Village as a location to do her birthday fashion feature shoot with The Telegraph. It really warmed my heart to hear her words of appreciation about the resort and food,” said N.K. Mohamed, owner and managing director, Vythiri Village Resort and Spa