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Acting is all I’ve known from my childhood: Riddhi Sen National Award Winner

Subhash  K  Jha Talks To  Riddhi Sen, the  19-Year Old  National Award Winner For Best Actor

The  biggest surprise  that the 85th National awards  has thrown forward is to honour the 19-year old Bangla actor Riddhi Sen for his  performance as  a transgender in KaushikGanguly’s Nagarkirtan.

No stranger to awards  and recognition even at this young age, Riddhi seems overjoyed at being the youngest actor to win the National award  in the Best Actor category.

Says Riddhi, “I don’t know  if I am really the youngest. But  I must be the happiest.I made no effort to  win it. The honour has come to me on its own and I therefore feel happy about it. I was shooting for  a film when I was  informed that I had won a National award. So I celebrated  in the best way  possible, by working.My mother always taught me that work hard is the only means to achieving one’s ambitions. Acting is  all I’ve known from my childhood.”

Riddhi who is  born in a  family of theatre and film actors started  his career as a film actor when he was  11.  “I was doing theatre in my father (stage and film actor  Kaushik Sen)’s theatre group(Swapanasandhani) from long before that. I’ve known no other than life(apart from acting).”

At age 15 Riddhi had been honoured with the Bengal government’s  prestigious award theMahanayak Samman for his performance  in Open Tee Bioscope.

Riddhi had rejected the  honour on political grounds. Isn’t he too young to be mixing his art with  politics? “I don’t agree. Politics can never be separated  from art in our country,no matter what an actor’s age. Yes, I had said no to that  honour firstly I didn’t think I was worthy at that young age of an award named after the great Uttam  Kumar.Secondly, there was  a lot of things in West Bengal’s politics that I didn’t like.Also, it was  not  the National award that I was rejecting.”

 Mamata Bannerjee must have been very  upset?

“She still is, I think. But one has to be fearless in what one does.  Otherwise I’d have never accepted the challenge  of  doing Nagarkirtan.”

Speaking on landing the National award winning part in Nagarkirtan Riddhi says, “Not for moment did I consider rejecting the part just because it was  unconventional. What is the point of being an actor if you don’t dive into personalities that are unknown  to you?”

 Riddhi says he  played the transgender  in  Nagarkirtan as  a woman rather than  an unfinished woman. “I studied the mannerisms and  graces   of  my mother , who is my greatest influence, and my girlfriend.I imbibed their  personality  and  made sure I didn’t mimic them.I never thought of  the impact that the  character would make or that I’d win a National award  for it. One doesn’t do a  role  after assessing  its influence. One does it because it’s there waiting to be brought alive.”

There was family friend,  the late and much missed filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh  who also went through a struggle  similar  to  the character in NagarkirtanRiddhi says Ritu was  an influence. “Our family was  very close to him. I did observe  him. But like I said, I played my character as a woman, not as  man struggling to be  a woman. The  film and  the character are very relevant because of what  is happening in the character,” says Ridhi referring to the Article 377.

Any burning ambitions to be in Bollywood?

Laughs Ridhi, “I’ve done  parts in Sujoy Ghosh’s KahaaniOmung Kumar’s Bhoomi and most importantly in Leena Yadav’s Parched where I played Tannishta Chatterjee’s wayward sexist son.These were not  large parts in terms of  the footage. But my mother has always taught me to look at the larger picture. Being in important significant films is more important to me than counting the  number of scenes and  shots I  have.”

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Acting is all I’ve known from my childhood: Riddhi Sen National Award Winner