Renée Sen says that it was her life-long dream to become an actor, which was finally realised in September last year when she turned 21. With the release of short film Suttabaazi, the spotlight is trained on her but she isn’t hesitant in accepting the need to hone her craft and taking constructive criticism head on.
Asked what kind of response has been coming in for the 14-minute short, which was screened digitally in the Quirk category of the Bandra Film Festival, she says, “Everyone has been really very kind. I have got a lot of suggestions as well and that has been lovely. Overall, I am very happy. Some people are saying the film should have been longer. Since, it is a short, I don’t think the runtime is a problem. One of my friends pointed out that my Hindi should be better. I think it should be worked on. Everyone has a certain benchmark for what they expect. One can always improve but at the end of the day, if you are happy and satisfied with your work, there is no need to overstress about it. You take the criticism, work on it and just let it be. As far as Hindi is concerned, I am very comfortable with the language.”
Suttabaazi stresses on the informal nature of a mother-daughter relationship and how sharing feelings shouldn’t be governed by the age gap. Renée says she is very open with her mother Sushmita Sen. “My mom and I can talk about anything. I can go and get advice from her. She is a really nice and fun person. She has had a lot of experience in life. Of course, we have never fought like that (refers to her film). As teenager, we disagreed on a lot of things. But there wasn’t any fighting to that extent.”
Interestingly, Renée’s decision to take the plunge into the profession comes at a point when stress and uncertainty have become talking points for industry actors. Did any second thoughts pass her mind?
“Whether you are an actor or not, this time has been difficult for everybody. Every single day is a challenge. When an opportunity comes to you, maybe it is a sign that it’s supposed to happen. I have waited so long to become an actor and then I got this opportunity. When people are at home there is so much going through their minds. If you can be part of something that they enjoy watching, it makes you happy. This film, a lot of people told me, brought back their childhood and their teenage lives. It took them into a happy space even if it was for fifteen minutes. I never looked at it like I could have started a year early or later. I haven’t done a quintessential Bollywood film yet. Realistically speaking, that is going to take time keeping in mind the current situation. I’m aware of everyone’s experiences. It is a difficult time. But at the same time, it’s relative.”
Is her path in the film industry chalked out or will this journey be instinct driven? “It’s a mix of both. A part for me is taking it slow because I want to stay in this industry for a long time. I have been advised that the more patience I have, the better it will turn out to be. I am thinking through everything. There is a project but I am not going to talk about it yet. We are working out how it is going to look like. While I am not depending too much on the outside world, I am also working on myself. I believe that I will have to go and approach the directors. If you want work, you have to ask for it. I feel for the next ten years I’d have to until I consolidate my position. But if I keep working at my craft and get better at it, I’d be cast in more films. Naturally, I’d like to play a negative character or do an action film. Romance will take a bit of an effort for me. I love singing and dancing. I’m certain that the movies I do, my character should have an important part. I also want to be part of films that have a good message.”
Renée also points out the areas she’ll be working on. “Acting, primarily because that is the most important part of my job. I’d like to have good dancing skills. I’ve been learning music. An actor who can sing, dance and act, that’s a killer combination. I am not a trained actor. I have only done school plays. I’ve absorbed everything my drama teachers have told me in school. I also learn from my mother and films.”
A trained Indian classical singer, she is also learning kathak and various forms of modern dance. Asked if she wants to use social media to highlight her abilities more, Renée says, “For an actor social media is very important. I have been told that I need to put out content and show different facets. That is true because people who don’t watch movies are on social media and vice versa. Honestly, I am still getting the hang of it. I feel I’m here to act. I want to get that part right. I am very particular about that. I am not an influencer. I want to do my job as good as possible. Sponsorships and following will be a byproduct. Once I have done riyaz and opened up my voice, maybe I’ll put out a video.”