Rituparna Sengupta - Interview | Award Winning Kolkata Bangla Movie Actress

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You debuted in the Bengali Movie industry in the mid 1990s with Shwet Pathorer Thala being your first movie which went on to win a National Award as Best Film. How did you become an actress ?

I have a passion for dancing from a very young age. I have taken lessons in Manipuri and later Odissi dance forms. I used to participate in all functions in school. But I had never thought about acting in movies.

Once, in a school function, I was spotted and offered a role in a fairy-tale serial on TV. The elder brother of one my friends was involved with that serial. So I had a lot of fun playing Cinderella with the dwarves. Director Prabhat Roy saw that program and called me for a chat about a role in Shet Pathorer Thala (Buy DVD).

You have not had to look back since then - you went on to play roles in Dahan (Buy DVD), Utsab (Buy DVD) and numerous other movies, with acclaimed film-makers like Rituparno Ghosh, Aparna Sen, Buddhadev Dasgupta and so on. You have also acted in many movies in Bangladesh. Tell us about your experience when working with Bangladeshi films and the Bangladeshi audience.

Swami Keno Asami - buy bengali DVD onlineFor me, my opening in Bangladesh was a grand opening for me. Shabana Appa first gave me opportunity to work with a Bangladeshi production. It was  produced by Shabana's husband and directed by Manowar Khokon. The title of the movie is Swami Keno Ashami (Buy DVD). The title is pretty funny - but movie titles like these are pretty common in Bangladesh. The movie made waves in Bangladesh. I have been accepted with love by the Bangladeshi movie audience. I liked it very much, after all being a foreign heroine.

Bengali Movies, starting from the 1930s with Pramathesh Barua's Devdas, then onwards through the 40s, 50s, 60s and on to the 21st century - what do you feel about the evolution and change, and where is Bengali film heading now ?

Bengali Film is going through a huge transformation and change. This is a different age, society has changed, lifestyle is different. Bengali film has progressed accordingly. There was a time when no quality Bengali films were being made at all. Then, in the next moment, so many high quality Bangla movies started to be made, we were surprised, and wondered where were all these great film-makers all this time. I think in every field, after a lot of good work is done, people then fall back and think about what best to do next. After the age of Satyajit Ray and the great directors ... Salil Dutta, Agradoot, Ajay Kar, Ritwik Ghatak ... to hold on to Bengali cinema and make progress was a tall order, because the achievements of their creations cannot be replicated. So, we had to wait a while, and now great directors have again arrived and doing good work - right now Bengali cinema is enriched with great film makers.

The changes in all layers of society has had a positive effect on the evolution of Bengali films. Now we have multiplexes - movies are not released in individual theaters any more - we have DVDs ... the way people live their lives has changed, and along with it the stories and messages conveyed by cinema has also changed.

You have recently acted in a movie that premiered internationally in many locations, including Washington, DC - Piyalir Password. As you said, lifestyles and hence film-making and film technology has progressed - Piyalir Password has dialog in Bangla and English and has been completely shot in the United States. What do you think about movies like Piyalir Password ?

My prime reason for accepting Piyalir Password is I believe Raj Basu is trying to take Bengali film to a broader international level. My character is really nice, with not only an emotional side to it, but also a lot of practicality. Raj has attempted to portray this mix of emotion and practicality in a pretty interesting way. Numerous international actors have acted in Piyalir Password. Bengalees as well as the Bangla language has spread across the world now. Bengalees are speaking various languages and living in different places - Piyalir Password tries to shows some ramifications of the migrating Bengali.

- Interview by , VOA Washington Bangla Radio

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