Riddhi Sen, the man they call 'National Award'
The youngest recipient of the National Award talks about this week's release, Helicopter Eela
Riddhi Sen looks the part of a South Point School guitarist nudged onto stardom. Taming a french beard and neat boyband curls, the 20-year-old smiles through a compliment on the National Award — an honour he clinched for the 2017 Bengali film, Nagarkirtan, becoming the youngest recipient in the category. While post-puberty grittiness has caught on to his voice, the awkwardness of adulthood seems yet to wear off. “Between us, half the time was spent goofing around and cracking award jokes,” recalls Kajol, Riddhi’s formidable co-star in his upcoming Hindi film, Helicopter Eela.
Son of Bengali actor Kaushik Sen, Riddhi has worked in both theatre and films; his grandmother, Chitra Sen, is a prominent theatre actor, dancer, and film and television star. Outside of Bengali cinema, Riddhi appeared in Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani (2012) as teaboy Poltu, followed by bit roles in Parched, Lion, and Bhoomi. Shuffling between Mumbai and Kolkata, the actor has kept his allegiance to regional films; in Nagarkirtan — his second Bengali release in 2017 besides Samantaral — he surprised us as a sensitive transgender person who flees from rural Bengal to seek acceptance in city life.
Helicopter Eela, of course, will test Riddhi’s pan-Indian appeal. Directed by Pradeep Sarkar, the film follows an obsessive single mother who hovers around and bugs her college-going son. Parental supervision goes up against teenage angst in the film — a scenario Riddhi claims to understand well, although he’s never been the angsty-kind himself. “Growing up in Kolkata, I enjoyed the right balance between interference and privacy. My parents gave me the education to be independent and find my own footing. In today’s world, with the internet around, it’s very important for parents to sit down and have honest and open discussions with their kids. The free-flow of information cannot be restricted anymore, so parents must help kids understand what’s what,” he says.
While accolades continue to pile up, the budding actor remains cautious. “Winning the National Award doesn’t make me the best actor, but it’s a great encouragement to keep working hard. It’s also an indication that I’m in the right direction. I am very happy to have won it, but I have forgotten the rush of it. While shooting for Helicopter Eela, Kajol would call me as ‘National Award’. It was quite funny and humbling.”
When quizzed about what he learnt as an actor from his co-star, Riddhi gushes, “What I admire that most about Kajol is that she is what she is. Whether she is shooting for a film or giving interviews, she remains the same person who always follows her heart. Very few actors live by their own choices like Kajol. That’s exactly where I want to be in the future.”
Produce by Ajay Devgn FFilms and Pen India Limited, Helicopter Eela is scheduled for release tomorrow. The film features a cameo by Amitabh Bachchan, who last seen alongside Kajol in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.