'I will never play second to any newcomer'
She acted in her first film at the age of 17.
She loves watching movies and dancing.
Her goal in life is to complete her studies and be a successful actress.
She gets along very well with actress-sister Riya's boyfriend, model John Abraham.
That's Raima Sen.
At 21, she has a level head on her shoulders. She has accepted the fact that people will always compare her to the legendary actress, Suchitra Sen and sex symbol Moon Moon Sen, her grandmother and mother.
But that does not deter her from wanting to carve her own identity in the film industry, finds Ronjita Das:
How did you get into films?
I always wanted to finish my graduation and then enter films. But while I was in Std XII, I got an offer to act in Godmother. I was just 17 then.
It happened this way. Vinay Shukla was looking for someone to play Shabana Azmi's daughter. Rajat Sengupta, one of the production members, knew my mother and told Vinay about me. So Vinay came to Calcutta and met me. He thought I was right for the role.
I accepted it because I thought it had a very good story.
Tell us about Daman.
In Daman, I'm playing Raveena's daughter, Deepa.
Raveena is going through a terrible marriage, as her husband is physically abusive. He's a sadist.
She has nothing to really look forward to. So her life revolves around her daughter. Her aim in life is to protect her daughter from getting beaten up by her husband.
I see her getting beaten up all the time. But later on, I derive my strength from her, and I'm able to face up to my father. I also have a love interest in the film in Shaan.
What is your favourite scene in the film?
There's this scene where Raveena and I are talking, after her husband has just beaten her up. It is the first time that we had a close and intimate conversation with each other. Raveena was really convincing as a mother.
How did it feel working with Kalpana Lajmi?
Kalpana and Raveena helped me a lot right from the beginning of the film. We became really good friends.
I learnt a lot from Kalpana. She was very patient with me. It's very important to be patient with a newcomer. Kalpana would explain every scene to me. In fact, I did the film because I wanted to work with her. It was not because of my role, the story or anything else.
Aren't you afraid of being typecast as a second lead in offbeat films?
No, I'm glad I did Godmother and Daman. I have learnt so much from them. See it's okay to do an arty film. At least, I get recognised and directors notice me.
I'm getting a lot of offers for offbeat films. I have decided to accept them only if the director is really good, not otherwise.
There are so many newcomers today who act in one film and that's the end of them. Also, if you do one bad commercial film, that's the end of your career. You'll be a second lead for the rest of your life or you just won't be able to get a foothold in.
I do get commercial film offers, but not the ones that I'm looking for.
Besides, I'm haven't played second to a newcomer or to an actress my generation. It was to Shabana Azmi, who is incomparable. And Raveena Tandon who is much older than me.
I will never play second to any newcomer.
Any plans of acting in a commercial film?
I live in Calcutta, in my final year of college. After I graduate, I plan to shift to Bombay. That's when I will work in commercial films.
Since I'm still studying, it is impossible to leave everything and come to Bombay to work full-time in the industry. Films take months to complete. But I can work in films like Godmother and Daman which take only a month to complete.
Also, since I don't have any professional training, I don't mind doing these small roles, with big stars like Shabana Azmi, so that I can learn something. When I think I'm ready, I'll do a commercial film.
You acted in a Bengali film, Moyna. How did that happen?
Abhijeet Sen, director of Moyna, was a friend of my mother's. He had a very good script. I was the main lead in the film. I couldn't have thought of a better launch than that.
You are always being compared with your grandmother, Suchitra Sen and mother, Moon Moon Sen. How do you feel about it?
Comparisons will always be made. We can't escape it.
That happens mostly in Calcutta. People there expect my sister and me to match my grandmother's level from our very first film, which is really impossible. That's unfair. My grandmother acquired her reputation after so many good films. We have just started. Besides, those times were much different than ours.
I guess we just have to live with the expectations. My mother was compared with my grandmother all her life.
When we got into films, we knew we would have to face the pressure and the expectations. There's nothing we can do about it, because the comparisons will never stop.
We have to make our own identity, but that will take some time. We can break away from the 'Suchitra Sen's granddaughter' or 'Moon Moon Sen's daughter' tags only after we do some more films.
In Calcutta, filmmakers even make you look like Suchitra Sen...
Yes, they say I look like her, so they make me pose like her and dress me up like her. Maybe they think that the Bengali audience is really interested in a lookalike.
I think it's very stupid -- it doesn't work that way. I'm not Suchitra Sen; I can't be her. It's no point making me look like her.
Do you take any tips from your grandmother and mother?
Yes, I do. My mother advises me a lot about what I should wear and how I should do my make-up. Besides, both of them help me a lot with my acting. If I can't do a particular scene, I always go to them for help. They even act it out for me, if it's too tough.
Do you face any rivalry from your sister, Riya?
No. There are so many other newcomers, and so much competition from them. One really doesn't worry about one's own family. In fact, I would rather she does well instead of any other newcomer, and vice versa.
Also, our choice of films is so different. I've done Godmother and Daman, while she did Love You Hamesha. We advise each other a lot.
What are your future projects?
I've taken on a Bengali film called Chokker Bali, directed by Rituparno Ghosh.