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Sen speaks sense

Riya Sen’s past may have been marred by controversies, but her future certainly sounds promising

Dressed in a purple strapless gown with a thigh-high slit Riya Sen looked a treat . While aam janta may or may not remember her films, her roles in various multi-starrers, the memory of MMS scandal, on-screen lip-locks with ex-boyfriend Ashmit Patel, and her growing familiarity with Salman Rushdie,is unlikely to fade from public memory. While the elder sister Raima has established herself as a serious actor, the younger daughter of Moon Moon Sen and granddaughter of Suchitra Sen, Riya is walking on a different path. “When I entered showbiz, I was just 15. Raima joined films much later. I am very happy with my image. I get to travel so much. Popularity levels of actors doing commercial cinema are better. Raima gets creative satisfaction out of roles she plays and as a sister I feel great for her,” says Riya.

The actor took the plunge as a child artiste in Vishkanya in 1991 but she was noticed in the music video of famous Phalguni Pathak’s song Yaad piya ki aane lagi. Then she was cast in a major role in Bharathiraja’s Tamil film, Taj Mahal (2000) which failed at the box office. Her first commercial success was in N. Chandra’s Style opposite Sharman Joshi.

She was next seen in a small and glamorous role in Jhankaar Beats alongside Shayan Munshi, Juhi Chawla, Rahul Bose and Sanjay Suri. A slew of item numbers and cameos and roles in forgettable flicks like Qayamat, Plan, and James didn’t do much for her career. “Acting was just a hobby then. I wasn’t serious about it. I would say yes to everybody. Unlike earlier, today I am planning my career. I am not in a hurry.”

And it kind of shows. The actor is doing two Rituparno Ghosh’s films, including an untitled film based on Satyajit Ray’s life. Riya plays Ray’s rebellious daughter-in-law, in what would be her debut in Bengali cinema. In yet another Ghosh film, the two sisters will be seen together for the first time. “People are in for a big surprise. It is based on a Rabindranath Tagore novel. It was difficult for me to relate to the role, but Rituparno knows both our acting capabilities,” says Riya, who is also donning the hat of producer with this film. She is co-producing the film with Mukta arts.

“After Apna Sapna Money Money I had this thought and idea. On the sets of Paying Guest when I found out that Mukta Arts is venturing into regional films, I gave them suggestions and it worked out,” says Riya.

The newly-turned producer also has an idea involving her mother, sister and herself. “I am clear about the fact that whenever three of us decide to come together, it will be something special. I have a story, a few scenes in mind. And if it works out then I will get a friend of mine to do the script. As of now, mom is not interested in doing films.”

She has also bagged Mahesh Manjrekar’s Zor Laga Ke Haiyya based on development and environmental issues, Samir Karnik’s Heroes featuring Salman Khan, Preity Zinta, Subhash Ghai’s Paying Guest and Love Khichdi, where she plays a 15-year-old girl in love with an older man. There are a couple of films down South as well.

About being in multi-starrers, Riya comments: “There is a whole joy of being in a multi-starrer film. It’s so fun working with a huge star cast. I would rather do a multi-starrer in which my role has a certain angle than be a second lead in a film. I have never played the second lead and will never do it.”

On doing a Kannada film opposite Diganth to be directed by Hemant Hegde, Riya says: “Yes, I have been approached but I have date problems. Nothing is confirmed as yet.”

SHAILAJA TRIPATHI TANEJA

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