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Sen and sensibility

AABHA ANOOP

Interview Raima Sen makes her debut in Malayalam cinema with a challenging role in P.T.Kunhumuhammed's latest film, ‘Veeraputran.'

PHOTO: K. RAGESH

Yen for meaningful cinema:Raima Sen

Raima Sen is known as a director's actor. She is known for her significant and critically acclaimed roles in Bengali and Hindi. Daughter of yesteryear actor Moon Moon Sen and grand daughter of diva Suchitra Sen, Raima is all set to make her mark in South Indian cinema by enacting an important character in P.T. Kunhumuhammed's latest film, ‘Veeraputran,' which is on the life and times of freedom fighter Mohammed Abdul Rehman Saheb. Raima plays the role of Kunhubeevathu, the wife of Mohammed Abdul Rehman Saheb. The film is set in pre-Independence Malabar. Raima spoke to FridayReview about her role and career…

You are known to be very particular about the characters you enact. What is it about the role in ‘Veeraputran' that attracted you?

Kunhubeevathu is not just a typical Indian wife. She is her husband's friend; she is a strong, dignified, and helpful woman who is is engaged in various charity activities as well. The character is quite similar to the one I played in ‘The Japanese Wife,' directed by Aparna Sen. The difference is that I played a widow in Aparna's film while in this film I play a wife!

How far are you acquainted with Malayalam cinema?

Oh, not much. My acquaintance is limited to what my mother and sister have told me. My mother had acted in all South Indian languages (‘Aval Kathirunnu Avanum' in Malayalam) and my sister Riya Sen had acted in Santhosh Sivan's ‘Ananthabhadram.' My mother used to say that the film industry in Kerala is very strong and a lot of meaningful films are made here.

Most actors from other languages find Malayalam tough. How about you?

It is a difficult language. But I have an intelligent director who is quite relaxed when I learn my lines. He and the crew are very helpful.

You are quite different from your sister as far as your image is concerned. Is it a carefully cultivated one?

Not at all. It was quite natural. She (Riya) is comfortable doing glamorous roles whereas I want to do meaningful cinema. I think it is more of how you start out. We are being typecast. But we are doing a film together now, which I am sure will break all the previous stereotyping. I am thankful to the intelligent directors who gave me immensely different roles.

How is it being a star kid? Did you face much pressure to live up to the expectations of the field?

Not a bit. I faced absolutely no pressure. We were brought up in a normal manner and my father is from a completely different background. We were free to choose our career.

You had once said that you were glad you were not offered ‘bikini roles.' But you expressed your willingness to wear one if the character demanded it. Don't you think the industry depends a bit too much on glamour?

Believe me, I have nothing against bikinis! Times have changed. Our public likes a dose of glamour and many a movie uses glamour to its advantage. There is nothing new in it. But I am thankful to god that I needn't wear a bikini on screen because I don't have a figure that suits the costume. You know, I love food. But if I had a size zero figure, perhaps I would have been offered glamorous roles that required me to wear a bikini.

In many films you have been cast as a typical Bengali girl wearing a sari and a big bindi…

(Laughs) That's right. I am a Bengali and prefer to be called a Bengali actor to a Bollywood actor. My characters in ‘Choker Bali,' ‘Parineeta,' and ‘Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd' played on that image of mine. But there are films like ‘Manorama Six Foot Under' in which I have played a completely different role. My most satisfying roles so far are the ones in ‘Choker Bali' and ‘The Japanese wife.' They are very different from each other.

Upcoming projects?

My dream was to do a period film and now I have got one. ‘Nouka Dubi' (‘Kashmakash' in Hindi) is a Rituparna Ghosh film in which my sister too has a prominent role. Then there is Tanuja Chandra's ‘Raakh.' There are two Bengali films that will be released next year. Meanwhile, I would like to do more movies in Malayalam, meaningful films.

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