Raima Sen has never played it safe. Her unconventional choice of roles, starting with her debut in Godmother, has ensured that filmmakers envision her in roles that require a lot from her as an actor. Raima agrees, “Not playing it safe has not really been a conscious decision. Because I started with Godmother, people associate me with these kind of films. So I just choose the best from what I get.” The actor, who has been doing a lot of Bengali films in recent times, is pretty excited about her upcoming Hindi movie The Bastard Child, which deals with the birth of Bangladesh.
Excerpts from an interview.
How did you get involved with The Bastard Child?
I was shooting in Kolkata and the director, Mrityunjay Devvrat was also there. I was busy shooting, so I couldn’t meet him. I got the script through somebody who told me that she had a very good script with her. I was really busy but I read it and thought it was fantastic. I didn’t even meet the director before going for the shoot. I just spoke to him over the phone. I went to Delhi a day before the shoot and that’s how it all happened.
Was it just your role or the entire script that appealed to you?
It was the script. We know only a little bit about the birth of Bangladesh but don’t know the extent of the violence that followed it. It’s a very sensitive topic and I thought it would be great to do a film like this so that people are at least made aware of what had really happened during that time. We know a lot about the Jews and the Nazis and what happened at concentration camps during the Holocaust, but we don’t really know what happened so close to us. It’s a very hard-hitting script. I also rely on my director a lot. I’m a director’s actor. When I spoke to Mrityunjay, I thought here is this young boy who’s so passionate about this story. My role is that of a journalist’s wife, who gets abducted and is sent to the concentration camp. Mrityunjay gave me a few films to watch but in the end, I decided to play it real as I thought that would work best.
There are a couple of bold scenes in the film. How were they shot?
There is a lovemaking scene but I was not worried about that since I’ve done it in Mirch earlier. But there was a rape scene and it was very brutally written in the script. I was a little uncomfortable with that but Mrityunjay convinced me that nothing that I don’t want will be done. I had Pawan Malhotra in the scene with me, who’s a wonderful co-star. He really made me feel comfortable, and so we went ahead and shot it.
Do roles like these take a lot from an actor?
Well, this one was physically draining. We shot continuously for 21 nights. We used to stand for hours together with girls fainting all over the place. Sometimes, we would be hosed down by water take after take. Then there was a scene that required some of the women, including me, to fall out of a truck on the ground while we are tied up. And even though they did put a mat on the ground for us, I was really scared as I didn’t know what was going to happen to our necks or heads. I went for a holiday to New York immediately after the shoot just to clear my head.