Raima Sen is not to be trusted simply because of the prankster she is. That is, however, her most endearing quality too. t2 caught up with the beautiful actress for a heart-to-heart.
Have you always been this mischievous?
Right from childhood, but then people didn’t understand because I was a quiet kid. Not any longer. I would be a prankster in school (Loreto House) but my face was so innocent that it didn’t seem that I could even do choo! My friends would be blamed, but I was the actual mastermind. Now, the problem is people know me well. So now, even if I am not at fault, I am often blamed for it.
What happened on the sets of Chokher Bali?
My make-up man Azad got angry with me. I texted ‘I love you’ to random people from his phone! He ended up having a fight with his wife. Now the pranks are not so immature.
Are you the only prankster in the family?
My mother (Moon Moon Sen) says I am saying white lies all the time to her. She’ll buy me something expensive and then ask me later whether I used it. I would be like, ‘of course’ and she would be like: ‘You haven’t touched it!’
I think my dad (Bharat Dev Varma) is also a prankster. He also has a great sense of humour. I think I got this naughty streak from him.
What have you picked up from your mother and father?
My dad is happy-go-lucky and grounded. Even though my grandmother (Suchitra Sen) was such a legend and my mother an actress, my father brought us up in a regular, normal fashion. He himself comes from a royal family. My mother joined films only after her marriage. So today we are not blown away by stardom. We never throw unnecessary tantrums and get along with everyone. My mother is always correcting us even now if we are wrong.
We have seen it all… the royal weddings and my mother’s stardom. She would drop us off at school and all the kids would rush for her autograph. So, for us, this is just a part of our lives. This is a profession we have chosen and this is also our hobby and passion. My friends are not from the film industry. They are regular people and they make us feel real. They treat me like a regular person, not like I am Raima Sen!
Even though I have been working for so many years, in my house, if I am with my parents I have to ask for their permission to go for a movie or a coffee or a dinner. I live with them, their rules. If daddy says don’t go, then I won’t go. That is still there. Lunch and dinner are together. There are few things as a family that we still maintain. Earlier we used to work on New Year’s. Now my parents have said that we will spend the New Year’s together.
I have seen people don’t spend time with their parents. Riya (Sen, sister) and I sit with our parents every evening. We don’t discuss films and what people say about us. Our home life is completely different from our film lives. We are not walking talking films at all. If I have funny experiences on set, I’ll tell my parents about it or if some picture has come out. They are also not that curious. They let us make our own decisions as far as our profession is concerned.
All the films you have chosen have been your decision?
All, even Riya. My mother keeps telling me why I work so much. ‘Go travel with your friends. See life’. My father is just the opposite. He will say work now and then you can travel. I really don’t go for holidays. If it is for work, then I’ll stay on. Riya is more adventurous that way and they let her be.
Can you divide the two decades of your career and evaluate your growth?
I got lucky I would say. When I did Godmother (1999), I was still not sure whether I wanted to do films. I started shooting it when I was 17 and it released when I was 19. I was in class XI and didn’t know anything about acting. I was nervous and facing Shabana (Azmi), I was unsure. It was difficult, a lot of hard work and I was scared. But then when the film got a National Award and critical acclaim, offers just poured in.
You didn’t chase it…
Till today I don’t chase my profession and I am lucky and grateful that way. I have always had a career. I have thought a lot about my personal life….
Do you think you could have done more quality work but for your laid-back attitude…
I am laid-back. I feel if it has to come to me, it will. I don’t need to do PR to get it or be in a camp or be seen at a party…. I don’t even go for screen tests.
You have some massive names in your CV…
Rituparno Ghosh, Aparna Sen, Pradeep Sarkar, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Reema Kagti….
Are there films you shouldn’t have done?
Many… some haven’t released. All that is a part of life. If I don’t experience the bad, how will I know it’s bad? That’s a learning experience.
What have you learnt?
I have met a lot of different kinds of people. With my films, I feel I have gained more experience than I would gain on a holiday. I have learnt so many things from so many people. Had I not been an actress, I would not have met these people. I have evolved over the years.
Do you prefer staying in Calcutta?
I prefer staying in Calcutta. My friends are here and parents too. I feel at home in Calcutta and I am glad that I am not a part of Bombay…. In Calcutta, you can still maintain a certain type of privacy, which is impossible in any other city. I feel I can let my hair down here.
You are not fiercely ambitious…
I am not but I want to do good films and better than what I have done. There is much more to learn. (With the web), I am getting offers in different kind of roles, which I didn’t think people would see me as. Like negative roles.
Your mother Moon Moon Sen has been such an icon, but also heavily trolled throughout her life. Did she ever react?
See, my father taught us and he used to tell my mother too that both bad and good things will be written, but if you can’t handle it, don’t open the magazine. When we put pictures on Instagram, we get so many nasty comments… but it doesn’t affect me. You have to believe that what you are doing is correct. We are in our own bubble.
And, the next 10 years will be what for Raima Sen…
It looks like it’ll be movies and shooting.
What else do you want?
I want to settle down at some point. Everyone wants a companion. God has given me great family and friends, kept me healthy, so many movies… he doesn’t give you everything, na? (Laughs)
Who is a dream man?
I have no false notions… just a man who understands me and will stand by my side, good or bad, and hold my hand. He should help me grow!
Picture: Pabitra Das
Styling: Srijani Chakraborty
Jewellery: Bedika & Richa
Hair: Gini Halder
Make-up: Babusona Saha
Location: JW Marriott Kolkata