Spotlight: Tolly superstar Rituparna Sengupta on her film, Bidrohini and more
If anyone can look equally credible in potboilers like Bostir Meye Radha and quality Bengali films like Dahan, Utsab or Paromitar Ek Din, it has to be Rituparna Sengupta. The last true female superstar of Tollywood, who has been ruling the silver screen since her 1992 debut in Prabhat Roy’s Swet Patharer Thala, will next be seen playing a cop for the first time, in debutant director Sandip Chowdhury’s Bidrohini, which is slated for Valentine’s Day release.
The star, who is now based out of Singapore, was on a short visit to Kolkata, when we caught her for a chat about her upcoming films. Excerpts from the interaction:
You have been missing in action here. Why did you move to Singapore?
My children (Ankan and Rishona Niya) are getting more demanding, and want to spend more time with me. Also, Ankan will be leaving for the US for higher studies this year, so I’m trying to spend more time with him. They sacrificed a lot for my career, especially my son, and hence, I’m trying to make up for all the lost time. I am clubbing all my assignments together and taking regular breaks.
You are probably the last ‘superstar’ in this age of actors. What does it take to be a star?
It’s something that I have painstakingly achieved over the years, with hard work and sincerity. I have always been an ardent lover of this craft, and I have never craved for anything else beyond it. And though money is an important factor, at times, I have even overlooked that. I think, nowadays, only a few people are as dedicated, and that’s why a vacuum has been created.
With the inroads of social media, a lot of other things are important now for an actor or a performer, and the positioning of actors has changed too. But those like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan or Madhuri Dixit can’t be uprooted from the minds of the people, such is their aura. Also, I feel that there are far too many new faces today, and with the fast-changing dynamics, they are getting lost no sooner than they are discovered. What is sad is that some of them get a lot of attention despite their lack of love for the craft. It needs a lot of perseverance and gumption to be a star.
You never shied away from working with new filmmakers, be it Shiboprosad Mukherjee, Nandita Roy or Indrasis Acharya. And now, it’s Bidrohini with Sandip Chowdhury. Tell us more about that.
I believe in working continuously. Some will be hits and some will be missed, but one has to have the fighter’s zeal. Sandip has a legacy to live up to since he is the son of illustrious filmmaker Anjan Chowdhury. I did not get an opportunity to work with Anjan, but when Sandip came to me with this interesting script, I said yes to Bidrohini.
I play an IPS officer, Kiran, who is a very emotional person with a lot of commitments and responsibilities, both in her personal and professional life. There are a lot of surprises in the film that will leave the audience with a feeling that women can achieve way more in life than what is expected from them.
Your upcoming film, Parcel, also picked up laurels at the Kolkata International Film Festival...
Yes, when Indrasis approached me with the script, I could gauge the crisis that the character was going through, since I have many doctors in my family, and I have seen them going through highs and lows, and hospital politics. So, I tried to get very close to the skin of the character.
What kind of an actor are you?
I have been an instinctive actor all my life.
How has your character developed in Belaseshe’s upcoming sequel, Belashuru?
Well, I’m still the same woman in Belashuru, but life has changed a lot and I am dealing with certain irreplaceable losses, which I still can’t come to terms with, but I am nonetheless dealing with them.
What are the other movies that you’re doing?
I have done Riingo’s Damini, Murari Mohan Rakshit’s Chuti, a beautiful mother-child crisis story, where I play a working woman, who misses her children because their holidays never coincide. And, Bappaditya Banerjee’s Labangalata, opposite Indraneil Sengupta. There’s also Atanu Bose’s Biplab Aaj o Kaal opposite Indraneil and Kaushik Sen, Datta by Nirmal Chakravarty and Beautiful Life by painter-sculptor Raju Debnath. The latter has an interesting plot, and I play an artist who finds emancipation through her paintings. There’s also Arindam Sil’s Mayakumari, where I bring alive a slice of a yesteryear star’s life.
Anything for the web?
Well, talks are going on, but I will divulge that in my next interview.
The secret to a good life
‘I have never been a fitness freak, but I think it’s my passion for work that keeps me fit. I am always moving and I don’t drink or smoke. At times, I do Yoga or freehand exercises, but I guess, being in a happy frame of mind helps the most. I love keeping things natural, normal and supple, and I have never gone under the knife or had any sort of medication that will destroy my natural self. I like to remain happy and engaged in work, to keep myself beautiful and healthy.’