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Soul sisters: Raima and Riya Sen

The Sen sisters open up on being siblings, love and a camaraderie without competition that defines their bond
Raima and Riya Sen at Deck 88 — the rooftop terrace at The Astor, Calcutta

Saionee Chakraborty   |   Published 19.02.19, 06:30 PM

Lol. Lol. Lol. Lol. Lol. And some more lol. This can be the only possible response when sisters Raima and Riya Sen, just 14 months apart, are in the house. They may “fight a lot”, but together are a team when they “bully people”, are protective of each other and “very good friends”. t2 sat down for a laughathon with the Sen sisters.

t2: Who is the bigger bully?

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Riya Sen: She (points at Raima).

Raima: But Riya only listens to me. So, I get to bully her.

Riya: No… she is the world’s biggest bully… it’s not about listening to her.

Raima: And you are not a bully?

Riya: No, I am a different kind of bully.

Raima: She is very moody.

Riya: She is non-stop moody. She is aggressive.

t2: Aggressive?!

Riya: Very! She is an aggressive bully!

Raima: She’s got a very bad temper. Mine comes once in three months, her’s come every day. Ask my parents (Moon Moon Sen and Bharat Dev Varma). Now you know why we don’t live together too much.

t2: But you guys have grown up together!

Riya: It’s been about a century now.

t2: So, how was your childhood?

Riya: She bullied me during childhood also. She took all the gifts and said they were hers. There used to be a library in our house and she used to say that room was only for her and would lock it up and not let me enter.

Raima: I used to take all the books from the library and put them in my school bag and on my way home, I would be like, see Riya, I bought some new books today. I used to put the books back in the library and Riya couldn’t enter the library because it was mine.

t2: You have lived together in Bombay too?

Raima: Not really.

Riya: She goes to Bombay as often as I come to Calcutta.

Raima: Now, I will be in Bombay more often.

Riya: I have heard that before! I better run. I should plan my escape.

Raima: Where will you run?

Riya: Lots of places.

t2: You two are such a riot!

Raima: The whole house, the Sen family is a riot.

t2: Raima, what was your reaction when you first saw Riya?

Raima: I don’t remember but I saw a photo where mummy’s got Riya on her lap and I am looking at mummy. We are only 14 months apart; we used to play a lot. Riya was a bully in the sense that when we used to play, she used to be the boss or teacher. She would make us her servants.

Riya: Because she used to beg with me to play with her for 10 hours even when I didn’t feel like. So, if I were to play with her, I would have to be the teacher and she the student...

Raima: And, make me do all her homework. She made all her friends act as servants too.

t2: Who was the naughtier one?

Riya: Her.

Raima: The difference between us is when I do something, I ring up the whole world and tell them. Her left hand won’t know from her right hand.

Riya: But I don’t do any naughty things.

Raima: She does everything under the sun too!

Riya: No way! What she does and I do are poles apart! I am very open about it.

Raima: I can laugh at my mistakes.

Riya: I don’t make any mistakes.

Raima looks at Riya

Riya: What mistakes have I made? You can say it on print.

t2: Who is mom’s pet and who is dad’s?

Raima: I think I am my mom’s pet. And she is dad’s.

t2: Riya, Raima told us a few days back that she’s grown up to this independent person because of her upbringing. What about you?

Riya: Our parents obliviously had a huge influence on us growing up. So did my grandmother (Suchitra Sen). My parents have been very broad-minded and let us do what we wanted. We’ve done everything we wanted to do. I have been in Bombay for the last 18 years; I have been on my own. I have travelled wherever I’ve wanted to. They have been very encouraging. They want me to travel, study, do yoga, act. Everything is through self-trial and error.

Raima: She moved to Bombay when she was very young and she has been on her own. And I have always been with my parents. Even now they are more protective about me. They think I am lost types. She travels alone and does her courses, but if I say that I am going alone, they’ll be like: ‘You cannot go alone’.

t2: Who is your sounding board in the family?

Riya: I have always taken my own decisions. But in case I need to, then I consult both of them (parents) little bit. I tell them but at the end of the day it is my own decision.

t2: What kind of decisions is Raima good with?

Riya: She is detached and unemotional. She is not intense. So, if you are really having a problem, she would be like: ‘Just forget about it’. Also, when it’s something in Calcutta, some film-related work… people, director, offers, then it’s Raima.

Raima: I ask her when it’s about work in Bombay.

t2: Raima, Riya is your go-to person in what situations?

Raima: Only when I don’t want to tell my parents about something, then I’ll tell Riya.

Riya: Which is everything!

Raima: Which is even small things.

t2: Raima, what of Riya’s personality do you want to imbibe?

Raima: Her discipline.

Riya: What kind of discipline? What are you talking about? I am in shock right now! (Laughs out loud)

Raima: You take care of your own things. You look after yourself well.

Riya: What I like about her is that she is least bothered. I am too particular… my hair should be like this and my make-up should be like that… my clothes… she is cool with everything. And it is much easier and faster to do things like that. She is easy-going and doesn’t delve into the matter too much.

t2: She’s not really conscious of the whole legacy?

Riya: She is very conscious of the legacy and she loves the fact that she is Raima Sen. She is not affected by small things… but otherwise she loves dressing up and looking glamourous, but she is easy-going.

t2: Riya, what is Raima like as a co-star?

Riya: We have never really acted together much. She is funny, we are normally like how we are off-screen… we fight less when we are working together…

Raima: Because then she tells me: ‘Raima, you do the morning’, ‘You manage’…. And, there is no competition between us.

t2: What about Riya the co-star, Raima?

Raima: She is a very good actress. She is very good at comedy.

Riya: She is fun to work with. She is a real-life comedian. It’s a fact. She is the funniest person on the face of this planet. You guys have got it wrong with the serious act. She should be cast in funny roles.

Raima: Wow!

t2: Raima, what do you like about Riya’s fashion choices?

Raima: She is very fashionable.

Riya: I am not ‘fashionable’. I am particular about what I wear.

t2: Raima, what are the things from Riya’s closet that you like?

Riya: Everything! (Laughs)

Raima: Guess what, I am forever stealing things when she is not in town and then she’ll suddenly watch a movie of mine and say: ‘Wasn’t that my top?’!

Riya: I am her go-to for all her make-up, clothes. She wants to wear all my clothes, even if they are brand new. But if I ask for something, she’ll disappear. She hides everything! She’ll come back with bags and bags and I would be like: ‘What did you buy?’ She won’t show me. She gets easily influenced by other people’s advice when it comes to clothes.

Raima: The shop mirrors are tricky! I just go once a month and splurge.

Riya: Even on my birthday, I asked her to give me something to wear, she ran away, reached the party before I did. She comes to me running for make-up and it’s my birthday but I have to delay my make-up because madam’s make-up has to be done by me.

t2: Make-up?!

Riya: Obviously! For years. She keeps telling me: ‘Why don’t you leave everything and become my make-up artist and hairstylist and stylist and do all my movies! I am like: ‘Thanks!’

t2: Did you guys share wardrobes as kids?

Riya: We had similar wardrobes.

Raima: We would fight, so my mother to be on the safe side, bought us same clothes, shoes, dolls.

t2: Are you on WhatsApp with Riya all the time?

Raima: She barely picks up her phone.

Riya: This is the biggest lie you have said… do you even message or call? You can call up my parents and ask!

t2: So, Riya keeps in touch more?

Riya: Obviously!

Raima: With whom?

Riya: With you!

Raima: (Laughs) My parents also have to call me. Even if I am in India, I forget. Suddenly, I realise that I haven’t called them for a month and then I call, but I do miss them.

t2: So, you have each others’ back. Raima, you must be Riya’s biggest supporter…

Riya: It’s the other way round.

Raima: You are my biggest supporter?! I don’t support you? I support you like hell!

Riya: She is my financier. I love her for that. She is my older sister, she has to finance me! Ask her what she gave me on my birthday.

Raima: What did you give me on my birthday, Riya?

(Riya laughs out loud)

Raima: Nothing. My mother asked me… I said we don’t give each other anything!

t2: What are the things you love doing together?

Raima: We watch Netflix together.

Riya: We like watching really bad films together... horror films.

Raima: Then she cooks for me.

Riya: She sees something or likes a picture and she’ll say: ‘Make it’. She expects me to make anything under the planet. She is the biggest fan of my food.

Raima: I like your Bhutanese chicken and aloo. She has done a course in Thai food. I like her Thai food… Thai soup, prawns and the mutton you made recently.

t2: Raima, what do you do to pamper her?

Riya: Once in a while, if I beg of her, then she’ll give me her bag and belt, because she has stolen so many of mom’s… then she tells me all those designer bags are hers.

t2: Who is the saner one when it comes to relationships?

Riya: None!

Raima: She is married, I am not.

t2: What are the relationship advices that you have given each other?

Riya: That shall remain a secret right now. Even if we give each other advice, that is never taken as advice. So, let it be.

Raima: We don’t give each other relationship advice. We take it from everywhere else.

Riya: Advice is not taken. Full stop. If anyone else wants to give any of us or my sister relationship advice, I would tell them to save their energy and not bother because she or I won’t listen to anyone.

t2: Riya, what do you think Raima is looking for in a man?

Riya: She is looking for someone who is very stable, sexy, mature, classy, chivalrous… Mills & Boon books… once you read one, you’ll know.

Raima: I live in my own la-la land as far as romance is concerned… like I want my Prince Charming on a white horse.

Riya: The only difference here is that she is on that white horse, not him.

t2: Are your parents your icons when it comes to relationships?

Riya: Yes… they are still together. They have stuck on. I think that makes a huge difference for any kid to grow up to see their parents still together. You realise that when you are married, that it makes a lot of sense when people say that we are still together for our kids. I think it makes a difference to the people you give birth to. That’s called upbringing. That’s the background.

t2: Riya, how is marriage treating you?

Riya: I love it! Everything has changed post-marriage. I just feel relieved.

t2: About what?

Riya: When you are not married, there is something in your head which occupies 90 per cent of everything. Everything else is secondary, whether it is your travel, friends… you just end up thinking am I ever going to get married. Am I ever going to find the right person? No matter what I did, after a certain point I wasn’t happy because I wanted to get married. I wasted six years, sitting in my house, when I wasn’t working, just thinking. It happened because it had to happen.

Now I have more freedom to do what I want, happily. And Shivam (Tewari) is very liberal. Whatever I do now, I do it with 100 per cent dedication and sincerity, there is no dilemma within. I feel like I have just started living and enjoying my life. I am more free in my head. You have to choose the right partner. If you don’t get the right partner, you should not get married. I just think it’s no big deal… there is no pressure… stop thinking about it.

Raima: I was shocked (when Riya decided to tie the knot). I couldn’t believe it.

Riya: But she wanted me to get married before her for some odd reason and kept encouraging me. Everyone was shocked in my family. They thought I would never get married.

t2: What kind of a wife will Raima make?

Riya: I think she’ll make a great mother.

Raima: I love kids.

Riya: She will drive her husband nuts, but she will make a great mother. She will be a good wife. I think marriage is going to suit her and she will become…

Raima: Disciplined.

Riya: Responsible. She is responsible…

Raima: I am disciplined where my work is concerned…

t2: Raima, what is your message for Riya?

Raima: I am happy to see her settled. And, may be do some more work now.

t2: Riya, your message for Raima?

Riya: I think calm down at work and settle down. I think she is ready, but she has to calm down in general.

Raima: I think that will only happen after marriage. Someone has to come and make me calm down. It will not happen on its own.

Riya: Stop thinking about things.

Raima: I have stopped thinking about everything.

Riya: You have an overactive imagination.

Raima: I think a lot. I am constantly thinking.


Styling: Ankita Banerjee; Outfits: Coverstory; Jewellery: Divinus Creations; Hair and make-up: Mainak Das 



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