‘I don’t do a bold scene just for the heck of it. The scene should blend with the story,’ says Gaheen Hriday star Rituparna Sengupta
You are known to be full of energy and vivacity. You are always doing something or the other. What do you do on long-haul flights? Do you get bored?
(Laughs out loud) It’s great that you asked this question. I love that time. It’s me-time for me. I just watch movies, one after the other. I prefer to be left alone then! I watch everything from European to Asian to Indian movies. I like watching relationship films. I also write.
Are these story ideas for films?
No, these are expressions… and they can become something one day. I am working on it. I just write whatever I feel. I also catch up on sleep on long flights.
You have paired up with Prosenjit for films by Shiboprosad Mukhopadhyay-Nandita Roy and Kaushik Ganguly. Anything in the pipeline with Srijit Mukherji?
Srijit might drop the bomb some day (laughs), I don’t know. All are hugely talented. Shibu is family. We are really close friends. I wish him well from the core of my heart. Kaushikda is cool and calm. He is a kind-hearted person. With Rajkahini, Srijit and I have proved what we are capable of. I want to do films in different genres. That’s how I’ll be remembered as a versatile performer. I am really excited about starting work on Srijit’s next, Shah Jahan Regency. Rajkahini will always remain special to me. I’m sure Srijit will present me as exquisitely as he did in Rajkahini. I have immense faith in him.
You act in so many films. Sometimes some of those aren’t quite up to the mark. How do you see this situation?
See, every person has a pattern. I am known for my presence in the Bengali film industry. I have never shied away from work. Whatever be the films, I’ve always been there. I do all kinds of work, and I don’t want to restrict myself to doing only one thing. I also want to work with newcomers with fresh ideas.
What is your criterion for working with newcomers?
I go by my gut feeling. How they narrate a story, the conviction they have in a subject, the content itself, the vision they have, whether the story is powerful or not, whether he/she is a gifted writer. The writing is really important. Sometimes I am successful, sometimes not. I feel good when my discoveries do really well.
A good writer may turn out to be a not-so-skilled director. Has that happened?
Those are the mistakes that I learn from. However, things are much more sorted now. I am sure about the people I want to work with. Some of the choices were wrong, definitely. But I learnt from those mistakes. I’ve tried to turn the negative into positive. That is my way of looking at things.
Do you still like doing masala films?
I am very much open to working in potboilers, but in a different way. Aha Re (directed by Ranjan Ghosh) is a commercial film. I recently completed the shoot for Ekti Cinemar Golpo and that was a commercial film. I have not passed the stage of not doing commercial cinema. I am very much the product of commercial cinema. So I’m all for its charm.
What is the challenge or charm of doing those films?
It’s all about entertaining the audience. It has to be something that makes them smile, and that’s where we come in and try our best to make people smile and be happy. That’s what you take away from it.
You don’t think of concentrating on Bollywood now?
I will definitely do a Bollywood film this year. I want to be a part of new-age cinema.
Tell us about your next release Gaheen Hriday.
My character is craving for a good life, and then suddenly she finds out that her husband has cancer. She was full of negativity about her husband. The story goes on to show how she moulds herself to be a different woman. It’s a very intense role.
Why is it in black and white?
It’s the director’s call. Agnidev (Chatterjee) had told me that certain emotions of life come out really well in black and white.
How comfortable were you with the love-making scenes?
We have shot for the scenes very artistically. The environment was such that we could comfortably portray our emotions. I don’t do a bold scene just for the heck of it. The scene blends with the story, theme and the emotion. My character lives in a loveless marriage. She is craving for someone. Her body is asking for something. She wanted to get out of that loveless marriage, and then she got a lot of love, affection and obviously sexual satisfaction from the other man (played by Koushik Sen).
I’ll do a bold scene only when I am convinced of it. I always have a proper discussion with my director on how to go about it. In The Bridges of Madison County, the character played by Meryl Streep goes through such a beautiful exploration of her sexual desire.
Doing these scenes is challenging but it is also part of work. I want to be challenged by my roles and this challenge will be there for the rest of my life. We are professional actors and we become the characters. Of course, I was comfortable… and we (with Koushik Sen) have this lovely understanding between us. The whole thing is also quite technical.
You have played variations of the housewife in different films by Agnidev Chatterjee…
Life is tough for housewives. Often they live behind a facade, which is why one doesn’t know much about it. And very few know what actually goes on inside them. That creates the trauma. They often act out from a very deep pain or hurt. One has to figure out or search for the cause. As an actress, I want to tap into the core. Agnidev has this beautiful aesthetic sense. He takes his shots very stylishly. I like him as a director. His Mrs. Sen is one of my faves.
In Gaheen Hriday, Koushik Sen is fabulous. He is so effortless. Debuda (Debshankar Haldar, who plays the husband) has his own style. He takes a character to such incredible levels.... I keenly follow his performances.
Do you feel the subject of the film will resonate with women?
Yes. The compromise is huge for women living in loveless marriages. That is shown in the film.
How does one deal with the situation?
One has to open another window of their lives. Then they can see what is on the other side. How far you go is not important. You have to see what’s there.
How do you view the next generation of actresses in Tollywood?
I wish everyone well. If I see someone performing well, I’ll go and congratulate them. I feel if we encourage and compliment and support each other, then it’ll do everyone a world of good. My juniors tell me that they look up to me. I like that, and I feel that I should set more examples.
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