Let's talk about love: Actors Riddhi Sen and Surangana Bandyopadhyay on love in the times of Tinder
Ahead of the Valentine's Day, young and promising actor-couple Riddhi Sen and Surangana Banerjee share their views on love, sex and dhoka
Effervescent. Professional. Focussed. Free and frank. These adjectives cosily fit the young generation of actors in Tollywood. And wunderkind Riddhi Sen is surely the foremost among them. All of 21, Riddhi -- who got the National award for a riveting portrayal of a eunuch in Kaushik Ganguly’s Nagarkirtan that releases this Valentine’s week -- is also way ahead of his years, when it comes to matters of heart. Growing from strength to strength for the past four years with actor / singer Surangana Bandyopadhyay, the couple state that friendship is the only cementing force in their relationship.
Not the ones to pledge love with a rose and say “I love you” before calling it a day, they enjoy each other’s company “in silence and sound” as Riddhi puts it. A week ahead of the Valentine’s Day the much-in-love artistes meet Indulge at a South Calcutta cafe over cuppas on a chilly winter night. As the conversation organically proceeded from love in the age of Tinder to infidelity, marriage and open relationship, we couldn’t help getting amazed at the way they tackled the questions with dexterity and objective viewpoints. Although silly banter and disagreements did peep through the veil of maturity, it only made them all the more adorable. Excerpts:
How different has love become in the age of Tinder and Bubble?
Riddhi Sen: Love has always been the same since time immemorial. The crises and difficulties it goes through are still all the same, may be the context and the times have changed in this age of online hook-up culture. Moreover, I really don’t understand why everyone needs to be in a relationship merely because of peer pressure. Love happens naturally, it can’t be forced.
Surangana Bandyopadhyay: For us it’s more friendship.
RS: Just as there’s friendship between siblings or parents and children, love cannot grow without friendship. So, one has to be very good friends first, with whom one can share everything, to be in love.
SB: yeah one should be comfortable discussing everything under the sun with one’s partner.
RS: You can hook up online for pleasure, but what about the rest of the time after the fun is over? At the end of the day we all seek solace in someone, whom we can trust and talk to.
Are you both very similar to each other or has variety added to the spice of life?
RS: We both are very similar and different all at the same time. Our upbringings are very different. I have been brought up by a family of actors and her parents are both government officials.
SB: My parents are culturally inclined and into painting and music but that has never been their careers.
RS: I was adamant that I would be an actor since age three and she is still continuing her studies despite being an exceptional singer, actor and painter.
SB: Please don’t praise me so much
RS: But it’s true, she is exceptionally talented and she figures among my top three favourite singers in the country and it’s not because she’s my girlfriend. I have not herad anyone sing Opera and Tagore songs wwith equal ease and finesse. Till so far, I feel Aloshyo (from the super hit film, Uma) is her best sung song.
Oh, I am also very ambitious which she is not at all.
SB: Yeah it’s a little difficult for me to choose what I want to be. But I can;t vouch for myself that I am exceptional. Probably I a a little better than a lot more people.
RS: And she is more patient and cool and excessively introvert and never allows herself to open up. And I have temper issues. I get angry easily, though nowadays I can control that.
So was it love on the sets of Open Tee Bioscope, your first movie together?
RS: Not at all
SB: In fact, we used to ate each other, I mistook him for a snooty and a fake guy.
RS: Our entire boy gang used to have a lot of fun together and she was like a fish out of pond -- reserved and aloof. We bullied and cornered her a lot.
SB: But the thing is before they could corner me I used to ignore them all (Laughs)
How did love happen? Who proposed?
RS: We both had previous relationships. But still we were friends and used to share our thoughts with each other. I could realise her worth in my life when she started dating a school senior of hers. A few days after she broke up with him, I wrote a long letter to her and took a taxi all the way to her home in Birati to give it to her.
SB: When I came back from tuitions I read and immediately said yes (smiles)
RS: It’s four years now. We have literally grown together. And it’s good she was seeing someone otherwise I would have never realised how much we like each other.
And in these years, how much have you changed each other?
RS: I have become more patient in life and got rid of my temper.
SB: I used to be reserved and used to underestimate myself. He has made me more confident and open. The most important lessons of my life have come through Ridhhi.
RS: Thank you
How important is fidelity in this age?
RS: In this age of social media it’s extremely easy to check on each other’s whereabouts. But at the same time, it goes against the law of nature if one spends the entire life looking into each other’s face. Kit’s a lie of someone says they never had a crush on others. The thing is whether you are free enough to share it with your partner.
SB: I feel diversions occur only when the friendship is no more there.
RS: Yeah, at the end of the day, I would share it with Surangana if I ever like someone.
What if you catch each other having a parallel relationship?
RS: I would definitely get hurt but would also analyse the reason behind the same.
SB: Reason is more important.
RS: Moreover, we both believe that time is very precious and I don’t want to waste even a bit of by being myself all over again with many people. Surangana has become a habit and if we ever end up parting ways, the depth of our relation is such that we will still be each other’s best friends
SB: Absolutely true.
What’s the most important ingredient in love?
SB: Love itself, everything else follows automatically.
Do you believe in one-night stands?
RS: It doesn't make sense to me but won’t say it’s wrong. The idea of hushing up any conversation about sex is a norm in most middle class families. I loved the film Piku, where Deepika Padukone was not in any relationship but was a sexually independent woman. A very progressive take.
SB: But personally I cannot relate to someone physically without any emotional connect.
What about live-in?
RS: Isn’t it also like marriage? In fact, does anything really changes or do we cease to be each other the moment we sign the dotted lines? I don't like concept of changing surnames or leaving one's home for in-law's place.
SB: Yeah. Why should a girl always leave her home and change her surname?
RS: I find that ridiculous. In fact, whomever I marry, I will either stay somewhere else altogether with her, or we will stay six months each at each other’s place.
Is marriage important?
RS: It is, but before tying the knot, one should be sure if he or she is ready to live with the person for 365 days a year with all their virtues and vices.
SB: How can people marry, especially whom they don’t know. I find arranged marriages very weird.
RS: Really, it’s in credible to me. And there’s a new concept nowadays of dating someone after your marriage has been arranged. How can others decide whom I will go for a date with?
What’s your take on sex before marriage?
RS: It’s absolutely normal and brings each other closer. John Lenon’s words can’t be truer -- We practise violence in broad daylight and hide to make love. It stands so true for our society.
SB: Even hugging or holding each other’s hands in public attracts public glare, it’s so uncomfortable.
Riddhi, we will be soon see you donning the director’s hat with a film based on author Nabarun Bhattacharya’s short story...
SB: He will make a brilliant filmmaker, you bet.
RS: Now you know whom to blame if I fail (laughs). I have always thought of making a film but I am giving myself ample time to learn the ropes of filmmaking before finally delving into it.
You both will be seen together again in Parambrata Chatterjee's web film Sharate Aaj. Are other films in the pipeline too?
RS: No, not yet. Also, I am choosy about films since I want to do a variety of roles. I don’t want to rush things.
Which of his works do you like the most?
SB: I love all his works but I like him in Chaurangha the most. Eagerly waiting to watch Nagarkirtan, now.
And Riddhi, you?
RS: Recently I loved her act on stage. This was her debut act in Swapnasandhani's production Taray Taray, where she stood out despite the presence of such stalwarts like Anjan Dutt and others.
Your film Nagarkirtan is set for a Valentine’s release. How do you feel?
RS: Ecstatic. Nothing could be better than Nagarkirtan releasing on a Valentine’s Day to celebrate love, which knows no sex, no religion, no caste and creed. It’s one of the purest feelings in the world.
SB: I am really waiting to watch Riddhi, he is really looking beautiful and I love his long eye lashes.
Costumes: Abhishek Dutta
Location: Tollygunge Club
Pictures: Satwik Paul
RS: Ritwik Chakraborty, Parambrata Chatterjee Rajkummar Rao and Rami Malek
SB: Kaushik Ganguly
Would love to work with:
RS: Srijit Mukherji, Soukarya Ghosal
SB: Kaushik Ganguly
Most romantic film:
SB: The Danish Girl
RS: The Theory of Everything
Most romantic couple on screen:
RS: Vicky Kaushal and Shweta Tripathi in Masaan
SB: Ritwik Chakraborty and Riddhi Sen in Nagarkirtan
Currently crushing on:
RS: Alicia Vikander
SB: Benedict Cumberbatch
We love travelling together and the most memorable tour together was our recent trip to London. We stayed there for nearly a month for the shooting of Sharate Aaj. We also celebrated Surangana's 21st birthday there. We are very relaxed travellers and like to explore each area with a lot of time. We spent almost a week exploring central London area. A cup of coffee in a bylane or a quaint alley is how we love to discover a place's beauty.
The most romantic thing you did for each other...
RS: When I was shooting for three nights at a stretch in Agra for Bhoomi, Surangana could feel I was stressed and missing home. She wrote a beautiful poem for me and a lovely letter, too, which made me feel so loved.
SB: Once we had a minor tiff and when I came back from school my father handed me a parcel telling Riddhi had come all the way to give it. When I opened it there was this lovely dress with a 'sorry' note. More than the dress it was the gesture that touched me.