- journalist - Sreetama Thakur
- শুভ নববর্ষ| What are you plans for today?
~ শুভ নববর্ষ to you too. Um, plans? I landed in Mumbai today morning for my work so, entire day went in traveling and working but yeah, in the evening I’m gonna just hangout over here & spend my Bengali New Year.
- That means work & fun together, great! You started your career in the fields of acting and modeling at an early age of 15 (probably) as the female protagonist of the popular Bengali TV serial, “Ogo Bodhu Sundari”. How did this start or may I ask how this role came to you?
~ When I was in class:9, I started modeling but I didn’t do it on a serious note as my sister, Chitrangada did. I always consider her prettier than me & she is into this industry from quite a long time. I went along with her to accompany her in one of her photo shoots. The stylist over there praised a lot about me and approached me to shoot for the magazine, Unish Kuri. So, I thought of doing few shoots. I was in 9th standard then & mom hardly used to give me 100₹a week as pocket money so, in that case earning money by shooting was very amazing for me. The shoots went on one by one. Again, one day my sister went for an audition of a TV show named, “Bou Kotha Kou” & I went to pick her up. The organizers thought that I too came for giving audition so, they called me & asked to do a couple of things! I didn’t even realize that I was giving an audition. (Laughs) When I came back, my mom got a call that they wanted to do a look test of mine for that TV show. My mom was just shocked & she directly rejected the proposal as I was supposed to give my 10th boards. I knew nothing about all these at that time. After the completion of my 10th boards, my mother got a call for “Ogo Bodhu Sundari”. In this way, I entered the film industry.
- You had been a school topper & parallely you joined the glamour industry. Wasn’t it difficult? Did you feel scared for atleast once?
~ Initially, it was scary. I opted Science after 10th standard but I couldn’t continue with it because of the hectic schedule I had for doing TV show. I used to shoot 17-18 hours a day. I always loved studying. I was worried about one thing that is, I was a new comer & learner, I wanted to learn the art of acting so, I feared that it shouldn’t get hampered in any way. I used to observe other people shooting & tried to learn from them. When there was break during shoot, I used to study in the makeup room. In this way, I managed both the sides. I didn’t realize that I had become famous. I couldn’t believe that I got so much fame & stardom. My friends & their parents came running to me for autographs, it felt very good. But those two years, I didn’t have any personal life apart from studying & working, I had no hangouts, etc.. But I’m thankful to few of my friends who were beside me throughout, they used to take out time for me as per my schedule.
- Did you get family support from the very beginning? Even at that time when you shifted to Arts stream from Science? This generally doesn’t happen in our conservative society.
~ My mother believes that we should do the things which we want to do, there was no pressure from her side. It was solely on us. I opted Science because I wanted to pursue MBBS. I had no wish to do a 9 to 5 job because I knew that I can’t work under anybody. My mother was my inspiration, she’s a veterinary doctor as well. She too manages so many things together. My grandmother was the happiest but my grandfather was very speculative. He didn’t want my results to be hampered. My school also gave me a condition that if I do well in academics then they would give me the attendance. I made sure that my grades were always good.
- Multi-tasker, I must say. Anyway, it was reported that you would be making your big screen debut in “Tomar Shange Praner Khela” (2011) but the film got shelved. Would you like to say something about it?
~ (Laughs). My 1st three films weren’t successful, those didn’t hit the floors. I was doing theatre then. I got into Jadavpur University for my graduations so, I really wanted to take a break from all these because my priority was to complete my graduation at first with a good percentage. I was working for quite a long time so, I wanted to enjoy my college life rather University days. The void didn’t affect me, actually I was happy (laughs).
- You’ve worked with Kalki Koechlin in ‘Naked’ which was penned & produced by you. It was a bold move. How was the experience?
~ It was fantastic. I was really overwhelmed as Kalki came on boards. See, I wanted to do something against online bullying which everyone especially the girls face more or less. When I went to Facebook headquarters at San Francisco to pitch my idea, they were ready to collaborate with me. I was glad that Kalki agreed to do this. It was a non-profitable move initially, later on it made profit & most importantly, it reached out to many people. ‘Naked’ has also come in nominations. It’s a great feeling. The best part was after the release of ‘Naked’, I got a call from the casting team of ‘Pari’.
- How was your experience working with Anushka Sharma & under her production?
~ Whoa! Since she’s an actor, she understands her co-actors very well. She made everyone so comfortable to work with. Being a diva, she’s very humble.
- You’ve also done a music video with Ayushman Khurana. How was your experience?
~ Ayushman is really very sweet, one of the sweetest people. We didn’t know each other but the video portrayed the chemistry between two people so, Ayushman made me comfortable as much as possible so that we can act flawlessly and people can relate to it. He’s very easy going.
- Now-a-days, web series is a trend. Are we going to see you there soon?
~ I rejected all the web series offers till now. To be honest, the reach of TV is at a much higher level. Web series can be called experimental. Once I see people are taking it in a broader spectrum, I’ll definitely look forward to it.
- What the differences you have felt working in Tollywood & Bollywood industries?
~ I think in Mumbai, the work is done faster than Tollywood. They are more professional and in Kolkata, things work more on personal basis.
- You’ve endorsed 100+ brands and all over your hometown, Kolkata you can see your hoardings. Did you dream any of these when you were a kid?
~ My grandmother dreamt of it, I can say that surely (laughs). She’s very excited about all of my projects. She used to keep the paper cuttings. My best friends make the most fun out of it. When I see the hoardings I feel good because I see the joint effort of my stylist, photographers, director, etc.. in those. I feel blessed to have such good teams.
- Brownie Points! You and your mother, filmmaker Satarupa Sanyal run a production house, ‘SCUD’. How does it feel to work with your mom?
~ (Laughs) We work separately. We don’t interfere in each other’s work. When we do a project together, we do our own part of work we are assigned with.
- You both also run an NGO, “SCUD Society for Social Communication”. How much did it reach in developing women of rural areas?
~ Maa has been working for years. We work all over West Bengal. Maa technically looks all over it. Last year, we had arranged the pumps at Bashtala. So, maa & I work together for the people. In a month, we organize 3-4 health camps so, maa & I divide the work. Mainly I do the ‘jugaad’.
- What are the future plans of your NGO?
~ After Bashtala, we’ll move to another village. We are trying to eradicate the common problems like child marriages, negligence of girl children. We are trying to establish the education for girls, to convince & literate the people that a girl has her right to be educated & independent.
- What help do you expect or deserve from our Government and the society?
~ The basics, you know. The initiatives are being spoken off but those aren’t reaching out to the people for whom these are done. We need to look into that. The policies are adopted but those should be implemented as well for the betterment of Indians & a better India. Serious interference should be there to stop the discriminations.
- Recently, the social media is actively seeking justice for Asifa. Do you think posting statuses really work?
~ This is an important point you have raised. I think this is going to work as the new media has a power. Look, you’re posting a status, I’m also doing the same. Seeing us, others will also do. In this way, it’ll become trending & will eventually become a media highlight. We all know that Government functions as per the media highlights so, in that way the Government will have to take immediate actions. It creates pressure & has an effect. Always remember, “Boond boond se samundar banta hai!”
- Coming to social media, how does it help to maintain one’s stardom?
~ I personally feel that social media doesn’t give u stardom. It’s the work that gives you the stardom. There are Youtubers, bloggers so, for them social media is a power. I’m an actor so, my profession doesn’t depend on the social media.
- You’ve a huge fan following. We would like to know who is Ritabhari a fan of in real life?
~ Achha, in real life? (laughs) Um, I think I’m a big fan of Kalki after knowing her personally. She’s so sorted. She’s the nicest. And of course, my mother. She’s the most kickass woman I’ve ever known.
- We would like to know about your hobbies.
~ I sketch. I do paint a lot of naked women. Apart from that, reading books & traveling. I also love home decors.
- Whoa! Nudity is an amazing form of art. So, favorite destinations?
~ You give me a count, C’mon. I’ve been to many places!
- Name the top three.
~ Denmark, Paris & Chicago. Jammu & Kashmir, Norway & Prague are in my wishlist.
- What are your upcoming projects?
~ I’ve completed “Khelechi Ajgubi” shoot with Parambrata. It’s going to release tentatively in June. My first work with Biju Kumar Damodaran is also going to release this year. I really don’t feel comfortable speaking about my projects until it’s done after my earlier experiences (laughs). I’ve really interesting projects coming along this year. I’m going to endorse nine international brands so, I’m hopeful about all these.
- Wish you all the good luck for your upcoming endeavors. Okay, if it comes to brand, name three of your favorite brands.
~ Hajmola (laughs). I love Hajmola.
- That means we’ll always find a pack of Hajmola in Ritabhari’s bag.
~ I really like Moshcino stuffs & another brand would be Body Shop because I spend a lot of time in bathroom (laughs).
- Okay, Body Shop se yaad aya, what’s the secret behind your toned body?
~ Yoga! I’m a foodie. I eat a lot.
- Eat, work out & repeat. Good way to balance! What message you want to give for your numerous fans?
~ A big Thank You. I’m extremely grateful. It’s important for you to be happy. Happiness can’t be your destination. You should always be contented with whatever you achieve.
- Lastly, your words for LaughaLaughi?
~ Best wishes. Keep doing whatever you’re doing. Good job!