'Kajol ma'am allowed me to breach her personal space'
This year's best actor National Award winner Riddhi Sen talks about collaborating with superstar Kajol in Pradeep Sarkar's Eela
His recent National Award (Best Actor) win behind him, Riddhi Sen has already turned his focus back to his work. Currently filming for Eela over a two-month-long schedule in Mumbai, the actor, 19, recalls how the craft fascinated him early on in his life. "As a kid, I was always intrigued by the art of becoming someone else. Being on set felt like playtime," says Sen, who plays son to Kajol in the Pradeep Sarkar-directed film.
It was his collaboration with Sarkar on an ad film in 2017 that led to his casting in this venture. "He liked me so much then that he knew he had to work with me [again]. He called me later last year to discuss his script and told me it is a mother-son story. He said Kajol ma'am would play the mother, while I would be her son. I was surprised that I didn't even have to audition. When I went to his Mumbai office, I learnt that I had already been cast. After 30 minutes, Kajol ma'am and I were doing our first [script] reading session," he says, the excitement in his voice still palpable.
The actor admits that while initially intimidated to be in her presence, he worked his way around her. "Eela [Kajol's character] is an aspiring singer and single mother. Her bonding with her son is important. Kajol ma'am allowed me to breach her space and achieve that sense of comfort with her. There were no restrictions. She was a constant support. She made my character better, pushing me to deliver a better performance."
Today, Sen finds a friend in Kajol. "She is uninhibited. She is a game changer because she works on her own terms. She is versed with everything — music and the best bands. She speaks about her family at length and I admire how she balances her personal and professional life. I hope I adapt her life's philosophy."
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