She has conquered the Bengali film industry and is now back in Bollywood with an eye-opening film about those who dare to dream. Purva Indulkar finds out more about Raima Sen
Raima Sen’s upcoming film, Bollywood Diaries, is about the craze there is in India associated with acting in Bollywood films. We catch up with her to find out more about the film and the actress.
Just like your character in the film, were you also passionate about Bollywood when you were growing up?
My mother was an actress and she used to work very hard. Watching her, I wanted to follow in her footsteps. Growing up in a family so close to the film industry, I was fascinated by the glamour, the elaborate film sets and the constant travel.
Your character in this film is a prostitute from Kolkata who aspires to be an actress. What about the role attracted you to the film?
My character, Imli, is full of life! Her dreams and aspirations attracted me to her character. Despite the hardships, she never loses hope. I was very drawn to her energy as well as her enthusiasm.
The film’s director, K. D. Satyam, received critical acclaim for his children’s film Gattu. What was it like working with him?
Satyam is a perfectionist. Everything has to be done just right. He has an eye for detail and it’s tough to please him. As a director, he is very particular about what he wants, but as a human being, he is lovely.
You’re a popular face in Bengali cinema and your work has also garnered several awards. What are the major differences between working in a regional film and shooting for a Bollywood film?
It’s the same for me, barring the language. In Kolkata, the audience is very warm and they pamper me a lot — I can get away with murder! The Bollywood film industry is more of a task master.
The audience for regional cinema is growing rapidly. Why do you think that is?
There has always been a very active market for regional films, especially in the rural parts of India. But in recent years, whether it is due to the accolades they receive at international film festivals or their impressive nominations at awards shows, regional films are being recognised all over the world. Even in India, the audience is becoming more aware of such films. People don’t mind watching a film that isn’t in a language they already know.
Which Bengali films do you think non-Bengali film buffs should check out?
Bengali cinema is full of filmmakers who experiment and bring something new to the table. I would recommend films made by Kaushik Ganguly, Aparna Sen, Kamaleshwar Mukherjee and Atanu Ghosh.
You’ve also worked a lot in the South Indian film industry. How excited or nervous were you about working in the South?
I have done a Telugu and a Malayalam film. Down there, the cast and crew members are very professional. The South Indian film industry is growing exponentially, and an increasing number of Bollywood films are inspired by films from the South.
In 2014, your film Hrid Majharey, the first Bengali film based on a Shakespeare play, was presented as a tribute on the Bard’s 450th birthday. What was that experience like?
I wish I could be present at the ceremony to mark that glorious moment, but I was working on a project.
However, it is a huge honour and I was humbled to be part of the event. The experience of working on the film was brilliant and it is pleasing to see our hard work being recognised.