Raima Sen started her acting career as a teenager, with the 1999 film Godmother starring Shabana Azmi. In the subsequent years, the actress has worked in both Hindi as well as Bengali films. Some of her popular Hindi film appearances include Parineeta and Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd, while in Bengal she won critical acclaim with Chokher Bali and Baishe Srabon. Although she has maintained a certain pace of work in the Hindi film industry, with some south projects thrown in, her filmography in Bengali cinema is the longest.
Talking about balancing work in multiple industries, the granddaughter of Suchitra Sen says she had to let go of several Hindi projects because she was busy with work in Bengal. “While shooting here I have gotten calls asking, can you come in two days? And I’m like no, because I’m already in the process of shooting. I can’t come before a month. So I’ve also lost out on a lot of good work. But I also don’t do everything that I get. I want to be selective, because it takes a lot of effort to balance my work here and there,” she says.
Ask her if she ever tried to prioritize one industry over the other, and Raima says, “I started off with my first film Godmother, which was in Hindi. I was still studying at the time, I was 17. While I was in college in Kolkata I did a lot of Bengali films. And then I just chose the best of what I got in both worlds. If I didn’t get a good Hindi offer, but got a very good Bengali film, I’d come back to Kolkata.”
The 41-year-old actress’ most recent work in Hindi is Amazon Prime Video’s The Last Hour, created, written and produced by Amit Kumar and Anupama Minz. Raima has worked with acclaimed directors like Rituparno Ghosh and Aparna Sen, but this was the first time she underwent a screen test before landing the role of Nyima.
“I have a phobia against auditions. I’ve never like done, I’ve always gone halfway for an audition and then turned back. This is my 22nd or 23rd year in the film industry and I’ve never managed to do a screen test. Amit Kumar (director of The Last Hour) was screen testing in Kolkata and he asked me to do it, but I refused and said, when I go to Bombay, I’ll do the screen test. So he thought I’ll never do it. Then I saw his Monsoon Shootout and I thought this is someone I would like to work with. And so after two days, when I went to Mumbai, I appeared for the screen test. I got a call after a few days saying I got the part, and that got me excited. After this one, I have done a few more auditions and have landed those parts as well,” she shares.
OTT is the way to go and Raima has already appeared in some Hindi web series in the recent past, including in a negative role in Black Widows. But her most successful OTT project so far has been the Bengali show Hello, which is now in its third season. The thriller web series was the digital debut for Raima in an industry where she is already revered as an actress.
“I was the first one in Bengal I think to start the web show culture with Hello. The show became popular and we managed to complete season three last year. Then I got more confident because the viewership increased, the show became a hit. So I started picking up more shows for other OTT platforms. But of course, The Last Hour is the biggest because this released in 240 countries. So the viewership is much more,” she says.