'I made no effort to win the National Award'
....says Riddhi Sen, who won the Best Actor Award for his performance in the film Nagarkirtan
The biggest surprise that the 65th National Awards has thrown forward is to honour the 19-year old Bangla actor Riddhi Sen for his performance as a trans woman in Kaushik Gangulys Nagarkirtan.
No stranger to awards and recognition even at this young age, Riddhi seems overjoyed at being the youngest actor to win the National Award in the Best Actor category.
"I don't know if I am really the youngest. But I must be the happiest. I made no effort to win it. The honour has come to me on its own and I therefore feel happy about it. I was shooting for a film when I was informed that I had won a National Award. So I celebrated in the best way possible, by working. My mother always taught me that working hard is the only means to achieving one's ambitions. Acting is all I've known from my childhood," he says.
Riddhi who is born in a family of theatre and film actors started his career as a film actor when he was 11. "I was performing in my father's (stage and film actor Kaushik Sen) theatre group (Swapanasandhani) long before that. I've known nothing apart from acting," he says.
At age 15, Riddhi had been honoured with the Bengal government's prestigious award the Mahanayak Samman for his performance in Open Tee Bioscope.
Speaking on landing the award-winning part in Nagarkirtan, Riddhi says, "Not for moment did I consider rejecting the part just because it was unconventional. What is the point of being an actor if you don't dive into personalities that are unknown to you?"
Riddhi says he played the trans woman in Nagarkirtan as a woman rather than an unfinished woman. "I studied the mannerisms and graces of my mother, who is my greatest influence, and my girlfriend. I imbibed their personalities and made sure I didn't mimic them. I never thought of the impact that the character would make or that I'd win a National Award for it. One doesn't do a role after assessing its influence. One does it because it's there waiting to be brought alive."
There was family friend, the late and much missed filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh who also went through a struggle similar to the character in Nagarkirtan and Riddhi says Ritu was an influence. "Our family was very close to him. I did observe him. But like I said, I played my character as a woman, not as man struggling to be a woman. The film and the character are very relevant," says Ridhi referring to Article 377.
Asked about his ambitions in Bollywood, Ridhi said, "I've done parts in Sujoy Ghosh's Kahaani, Omung Kumar's Bhoomi and most importantly in Leena Yadav's Parched, where I played Tannishta Chatterjee's wayward sexist son. These were not large parts in terms of the footage. But my mother has always taught me to look at the larger picture. Being in important significant films is more important to me than counting the number of scenes and shots I have."