Meet Bengali Film Actress Rituparna Sengupta in an Exclusive interview with CalcuttaTube about MAHANAGAR@KOLKATA. Databazaar Media Ventures will premiere ‘Ekti Tarar Khonje’ in NABC2010 On Sunday, in Metro Hall (3rd Floor)
Rituparna Sengupta is not only the numero uno of Bangla cinema for nearly a decade. She is also a multi-faceted personality who also produces popular software programmes for television channels, produces feature films, balances her acting career between Mumbai and Kolkata, endorses products for all media and supports philanthropic causes. Awards come to her naturally. She won the National Award for her performance in Rituparna Ghosh’s Dahan which also fetched her Anandalok Ujala Award. She won the Anandalok Ujala Award for her role in Raja Sen’s Atmiya Swajan, alongside the Bharat Nirman Award, the Kalakaar Award, the Kazi Nazrul Birth Centenary Award, The Bengal Film Journalists Association (BFJA) Award for Best Actress and most recently, the Sailajananda Mukhopadhyay Birth Centenary award. There are many more that will rarely find a parallel in Bengali cinema. Her aim is not only to win awards but also to do good meaningful films and commit herself totally to any role she chooses to portray. She presents her disarming self in a detailed interview.
Everyone is looking forward to Suman Mukhopadhyay’s Mahanagar@Kolkata in which you play an out-of-the-box character named Rongili. Tell us something more about it.
Mahanagar@Kolkata is a complex film with three short stories by Nabarun Bhattacharya strung together by Suman. The three stories are Ek Tukro Nyloner Dori, Amar Kono Bhoy Nei Toh and Angshik Chandragrahan. I feature in the first and the third stories along with Chandan Roy Sanyal who plays my husband Rohit and Sreelekha Mitra who plays Kamalini, a woman who is supposedly in a relationship with my husband. Rongili as the name suggests, is an intriguing character with varied shades. I liked it the minute Suman gave me the script. It is challenging, very offbeat and has carries surrealistic overtones. She very real and credible and at the same time, not like women we have often seen in real life or on screen. I liked the way Suman interpreted the character drawn from literature and we saw eye-to-eye on the representation and interpretation. It is different from Chaturanga, the earlier film in which Suman and I worked together.
How does Rongili compare with your other contemporary films that are also a bit off the mainstream such as Arohan, Bedeni, etc with equally competent directors?
Comparing Mahanagar@Kolkata with my other contemporary films is a bit difficult because they are poles apart. In Pinaki Choudhury’s Arohan, I play a rustic young widow. A modern young guy, a NRI, who comes to visit his dying grandfather in Benares falls in love with the widow who becomes pregnant with his child. Shooting in Benares was a novel experience for me. I am the only character in the film who speaks in Hindi. In Anjan Das’ Bedeni, which I have co-produced, I play a dusky and voluptuous snake charmer. When her husband becomes impotent and alcoholic, she falls in love with the ring master of the travelling circus that has come to town. In Dulal Lahiri’s Brishtir Chhayachhobi, I have three heroes. I have produced this film too. So, you see comparisons do not quite work here.
So, what according to you is the USP of Mahanagar@Kolkata?
Mahanagar@Kolkata to me, comes across as a complete package of emotion and history of the city of Kolkata that is so real and secure in facts and figures through heritage and practicality. It captures the nuances of the city with its interesting twists and turns that we carry forward from our past into our present with resonances that spill over. I think Mahanagar@Kolkata is an extra-ordinary experience of nuances, intricacies and complexities, all blended, woven and crafted into urban human emotions encapsulated against the backdrop of your own city – Kolkata. This is a stand-alone film that defies comparison.
What kind of homework did you need to do for Mahanagar@Kolkata’s Rongili?
Thanks to Suman, our director, we hardly needed to do much homework. He walked all of us through the core of the characters we were to enact and express. He marked our body language from time to time and worked on our costume and make-up to the minutest detail. You will see me wearing completely different looks in the film, one modern and one so traditional that it seems as if I am a part of an old classical period film. Suman is a competent director. He is visually very rich and has sketched my character beautifully. The widow-burning scene with me is extraordinary and almost palpable.
How do you do the balancing act between home and work and endorsements and public appearances?
It is an uphill task really. Managing the home is a very challenging responsibility not that I am actually doing anything particular but for managing everything, keeping control and managing the expectations of the different family members from me. This for me is the toughest call among everything else. As an actress and a star, shooting for a film is only half the job. Add to this the important social visits, public appearances, photo sessions all of which are part of our commitment as a celebrity. There is more – media interviews and endorsement appearances, product launches, music launches, the works. I am a thorough professional. But I too, sometimes succumb to my personal likes I feel happy about later. It is a rare satisfaction that makes me ride high and makes me feel happy and fulfilled. You can call it a coordinated compromise that brings some comfort perhaps. But at the end of the day, it is just hard work and time management. I am happy that I have a very supportive family to bear with me, to cope with my wired up schedules and so on. If I don’t balance my personal and professional lives, a lot of things might get thrown out of gear.
One notices that you have no ego hassles performing with young and completely new heroes.
That’s right. I am an actress, remember? It is my character I am concerned about and I am equally comfortable with veteran actors and newcomers. Newcomers offer a different kind of challenge I am game to take up. Even in Mumbai, I have been paired with Maradona Rebello in Dunno Y… Na Jaane Kyun. Arohan has me paired with the young Samadarshi who is extremely talented. I have Chandan Roy Sanyal who played Mikhail in Kameeney playing Rohit in Mahanagar@Kolkata. Ritwik Chakraborty plays my husband in Necklace. Indraneil Sengupta is my love interest in Bedeni while Rajesh Sharma is my husband. Samrat, another newcomer, is playing opposite me in Handcuff. They are all extremely talented young men. Co-actors keep changing but as professionals, we have to make sure we look good with everyone. Newcomers are needed for the industry to grow.
What about Mumbai and Hindi films?
I am firmly entrenched in Hindi films. I have a fairly good lineup of about-to-be-released films such as Donno Y… Na Jaane Kyo, Life Express, SRK, BBD etc. I have just come back after shooting for Dard-e-Disco. Bum Bum Bole has released but has not done as well as it was expected to. I am keeping my fingers crossed for the Big Success to happen to me because I know I deserve it for the kind of hard work and commitment I put into each of my film, be in Bangla or Hindi. Critics and the audience liked my work in Mittal v/s Mittal and Main Meri Patni Aur Woh. Critics and the audience liked my work in Mittal v/s Mittal and Main Meri Patni Aur Woh. I am a very greedy actress indeed. My hunger for good roles, good performances, and good films simply refuses to go away. I cannot imagine a life without films.