“Great honour to be compared with Suchitra Sen”

Raima Sen Dev Burman is setting a record of sorts with her balancing act between Bollywood and Kolkata. Where does  she find her comfort zone? How does she pick and choose between and among films? On the eve of the release of her Hindi film Bollywood Diaries, she talks about her career with Shoma A. Chatterji.
Why does one see you less frequently in Bollywood films than in Bengali films where you often have back-to-back releases?
There are many reasons. I do not care for auditions and never go for them. I do not have a P.R. person, a manager or even a secretary that is mandatory if you are working in Mumbai. I never had these people managing my career. I am not a go-getter and perhaps lack the killer instinct needed to breast the tape first. Basically, I am very lazy.
Then how do you land films in Bollywood at all?
The most surprising thing is that I still work in Bollywood and am called for good assignments in significant films. I never go out of my way to get roles or films. Besides, Bollywood is a much larger industry than the Bengali film industry. So, my Hindi film releases happen once in a while. For example, Children of War released 18 months back and Kaagaz Ke Phool released a year back. Now you have Bollywood Diaries that is why you see me less frequently than you see me in Bengali films.
What kind of actress would you say you are – a spontaneous actress, a director’s actress or a trained actress?
I am a director’s actress. I need the director to guide me. My work shows excellent results with good directors. Fortunately, I have worked with some of the best directors both in Mumbai and in Kolkata ranging from Rituparno Ghosh through Vinay Shukla, Aniruddha Roy Choudhury, Anjan Dutt, Sandip Ray, Srijit Mukherjee, Koushik Ganguly, Reema Kagti and Kalpana Lajmi. I have learnt from each of them. I really work well if there is a good director who knows how to draw the best out of me.
You have played a prostitute in Bollywood Diaries. How did you find the experience?
It was a lovely role because it was full of hope. The red light area does not feature in the film. Sonagachi, the famous red-light area in Kolkata, is the backdrop I belong to and this is just a frame of reference. I loved to work with K.D. Satyam and I also loved the story. Bollywood Diaries chronicles three separate stories about three different individuals who never meet. What they have in common is this desperate desire to make it big in Bollywood. The character I play is ready to bend every rule in the book, to bend over backwards to pay any price to find her place in Bollywood.
How do you react to comparisons with your grandmother Suchitra Sen?
I consider it a great honour when people point out how closely I resemble her. So far as comparison in acting styles go, I do not feel any pressure or take it either as an advantage or as a disadvantage because things are very different now in terms of the kind of films that are made, the kind of acting that these films demand, the directors who make different kinds of films and their approaches, etc. So there is no point in comparisons. The style of acting is very different from what it used to be when my grandmother was leading lady. She was a great actress in her time.
Which of your grandmother’s 60-and-odd films you love watching?
Harano Sur (Bengali), Aandhi (opposite Sanjeev Kumar, Hindi) and Saat Pake Bandha (a Bengali film that won her international award). The films are eternal and incurably romantic and she is just so beautiful and brilliant in all these films. So far as my mother’s (Moon Moon Sen) films go, I love Andar Bahar in Hindi and Tumi Kato Sundar in Bangla.
When you are offered an assignment, what criteria do you use to say ‘yes’?
The role is the top criterion and the rest come later. The character must be significant in terms of its positioning and visual presence, not necessarily in terms of the footage. An intelligent director and a good script come next. An intelligent director can work ideally with the script and can draw the best out of his actors. I have just done a film directed by Kamaleshwar Mukherjee and I believe he is a fabulous director also because he is a brilliant actor. It is an untitled film of triangular love where I play Prosenjit’s sophisticated wife and Paoli Dam plays the other woman.
If asked to pick your personal favourites from the films you have already done which ones would you mention?
Among my Bengali films, my favourites are – Chokher Bali and Noukadubi directed by Rituparno Ghosh, Bastushaap and Shobdo directed by Koushik Ganguly, The Japanese Wife directed by Aparna Sen and Abby Sen directed by Atanu Ghosh. So far as my Bollywood films go, I would tick Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd directed by Rima Kagti, Mirch, directed by Vinay Shukla, Children of War directed by Mrityunjay Devrat, Parineeta directed by Pradeep Sarkar and Bollywood Diaries.
What are your current assignments in Mumbai?
One is called 3 Days with a multi-starcast with Kunal Roy Kapoor, Ravi Dubey, Karan Grover, Tisca Chopra, Kay Kay Menon and Prosenjit. It is scheduled for a May release. Another film which marks the directorial debut of Rana Bhatia called Ishq Kabhi Kariyo Naa in which I have a significant role.
Which directors do you look forward to work with in the near future?
Mani Ratnam, Vishal Bharadwaj, Anurag Basu and Anurag Kashyap. (TWF)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here