Rituparna Sengupta’s 20 years in Bengali film
It’s been more than 20 years since she started acting, but she is still the reigning heroine of Bengali cinema. Rituparna Sengupta, who showcased two of her latest films, Bharaate and Teenkahon, over the weekend at the Bengali Film Festival Dubai, tells The National about her Bollywood plans, her love of dance and the secret of her successful career.
You made your acting debut in 1994 and won India’s National Film Award for Best Actress in 1998 for Dahan. You are still the top heroine of Bengali cinema. What is the secret of your longevity?
Yes, it has been 20 years. It’s interesting that I was a heroine then and I’m a heroine now. I think it’s my hard work that paid off. I didn’t know anybody in films to start with, yet I’ve been lucky to work with good directors. Actresses in India are written off once they get married. But I proved this wrong – I did some of my best films after getting married.
How has Bengali cinema changed in these 20 years?
There’s a lot of new-age cinema right now and I’m glad to be a part of that.This has given me a boost as an actress. Also, the audience wants to see some essence of their lives reflected in movies. Cinema is all about real-life heroes and heroines right now, not just the larger-than-life ones.
You’ve had many commercial hits portraying your glamorous side, but you’re equally at ease with art-house films, receiving accolades for complex roles.
I’m a product of commercial cinema. I’ve done the best of commercial cinema, with all the action and dancing, and continue doing that. But good realistic cinema is where my heart is.
What criteria do you look for before signing up for a film?
The script has to really excite me. I look to see if the role or film can reinvent the actress in me. Like, right now I’m doing a pivotal role in Srijit Mukherji’s period film Rajkahini.
You have trained in two classical dance forms, Odissi and Manipuri, and you have choreographed dances to some of Rabindranath Tagore’s works. How important is dance to you? Very important. Dance gives you immense satisfaction and tranquillity. I want to establish a dance academy someday.
You’ve acted in Hindi films such as Main, Meri Patni Aur Woh and Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji. But will we get to see you in some meatier roles in Bollywood and other regional cinema?
I’ve been too embedded in Bengali cinema so far. But a few Hindi films such as Tere Aane Se and Extraordinary are coming up.