Riddhi Sen is gearing up for the release of his upcoming film Helicopter Eela. The National Award-winning actor in an exclusive conversation with indianexpress.com spoke about his character in the film, the responsibility a National Award brings with it and his admiration for Rajkummar Rao.
Here are the excerpts:
Q. What sort of conversation did you have with Kajol?
Initially, we were getting to know each other. She plays my mother and I play the son. Obviously, the biggest criteria for us was to develop a bond as the story is of a mother and a son. In such a situation, you can’t be anything but intrigued. To be honest, we did not have to put in a lot of effort to work on the bond. Initially, I was intrigued but the kind of person Kajol is. I mean, the Kajol I thought she is some 15 years back while reading one of her interviews, she is exactly the same even now. I think the kind of person she is, it got to me. We started interacting with each other and the bond eventually developed so well that it started reflecting on screen. I remember when we shot for the first scene, we rehearsed and planned a lot of things but as soon as the camera started rolling, we did a lot of impromptu acts, which made me realise that we both get along really well.
Q. How important it is to reinvent parenthood as per a teenager’s point of view?
Rather than reinventing, I would prefer rediscovering. I think it (Helicopter Eela) is more about relationships than parenting. A parent raises their kid but it is the kid’s responsibility also to raise their parents. I mean, we are too busy looking at them as parents, in their certain roles of being a mother or a father. But we should look at them as normal human beings who deal with life and its struggles just like how we do. So, it is our responsibility to talk to them and get them out of the old rules and regulations of being a parent. I think even the parents should allow their kids to intervene and question as and when required. Discipline is must but there should be a balance of friendship and responsibilities. Children too should be motivated to be part of parents’ decision. There has to be a balance in every relationship. And the balance should be maintained intuitively and consciously.
Q. This is light-hearted film in comparison to what we know you for. What was the reason behind taking this up?
When I started working in the Bengali industry, I did not know I will be working in Hindi films. It all happened like a chain reaction. I worked on Kahani. Mrityunjay Devrat saw me in Kahani and approached for Children of War. Onir saw me in Children of War and picked me for Chauranga. Leena Yadav saw me in Chauranga, she picked me for Parched. Producers of Bhoomi saw me in Parched and picked me for Bhoomi. So, it happened like a chain reaction. It was never a conscious decision. I am grateful that I have been offered these films because for my age, it is difficult to get good content driven characters. I have been doing movies during my transformative age – 17,18,19 – so in this age you do not get characters that can do a lot in the film. It is hard to write such characters. But I am lucky with the kind of work I have been offered.
I worked with Pradeep Sircar in an advertisement. This is my first central character. I was expecting it to be my first audition but when I met Pradeep sir he said I am in the film already. I was surprised. So, I got the first draft of the script and we started working on the film. It was unbelievable.
Q. In an interview last year after you won the National Award, you said the length of your role doesn’t matter but the content does. The approach remains the same or has it changed?
Absolutely! I am a huge admirer of Rajkummar Rao. He is the game changer. He is changing the concept of acting or being the leading man in a film. He is the lead in most of the films, but he still chose to be in Bareilly Ki Barfi in which he is the second lead. I was amazed to see that he took the risk. He literally swept away everybody and went off with the film. I watched Love Sonia. The film is so good but Rajkummar chose to do a role that had barely three to four scenes. This is what an actor is all about. A good actor should not be worrying about length. It is about how the actor is contributing to the story and what the script is all about. Nowadays, just the script is the hero of a film.
Q. For Nagarkirtan, you said you took inspiration from your mother and girlfriend. How did you approach your character in Helicopter Eela?
I think the most important part was to get into the psychology of a single parenting situation. I think when a person is raised by a single parent, either he or she sways away or is extra responsible and grows up fast. I play a character who belongs to the category of children who grow up faster or take up the responsibilities much earlier. The bonding of a mother and a son in a single parenting situation is too personal and strong. To slip into that zone was important. The team was extremely helpful to be Vivaan.
Q. Being a National Award winner at such a young age, what kind of responsibilities does it bring along? Is there a negative aspect to it?
It can have a negative aspect to it but that depends on how I am looking at it. For me, I do not consider myself as the best actor in the country. I am really obliged and grateful to the jury of National Awards. I look at the award in a way that it gave me the support and the confidence. It’s like I got the confirmation that I am on the right track and moving in the right direction. So, if I do good work in coming 10 years then one day, I hope I would be able to say that yes I am a National Award winner. If I would not do good work, people will forget me. An award cannot limit your learning or work. Acting is something that is connected to life. The more you grow, the meaning keeps changing and the learning never ends. I love my profession way too much. So, I have a lot to explore. I am happy about the award but that chapter is over. I am on the track to keep proving myself.
There is a pressure and responsibility because now people will judge you no matter what. Whether you are a National Award winner or not, you will be judged if you cannot match their expectations. And there is nothing wrong about it. If I am not able to do good work, I will not blame my award for it.
Q. What kind of films do you want to be part of or watch as an audience? How much has Bollywood understood the need of the hour?
I want to be part of good scripts, the medium doesn’t matter.
The audience has changed. The script has become the hero. I am so lucky that I have come in the industry at a time when actors like Rajkummar Rao, Ayushmann Khurrana have paved such a path where we can have a space in the industry. We will be considered for interesting movies and people will come to watch it on large scales.
Q. Do you think you have a competitor in the industry? Who and why?
I am my own competition. Honestly, every actor needs to compete with himself. It is a tricky profession. The only mantra to be good at work is to not let the success go to your head. It is easy to say this, but it is difficult to implement.
Q. Any icons you follow in the industry?