Actress Riya Sen may not have acted in too many Tamil movies but the love she has for the Tamil film industry, ever since she made her debut in Kollywood with Bharathirajaa's Taj Mahal, only seems to have gotten stronger. "I'm always open to acting in Tamil films. In fact, I'm open to films from the south," says Riya, who discloses that she is working on four Bengali movies at the moment.
"Two of my films are 90 per cent in English and Bengali and of the other two, one is with my sister. The fourth one is titled Motka, which means `fatso'. I am to start shooting for it in a week's time," says Riya, who was in the city recently for a website launch.
"I was in class IX when I did Taj Mahal. I should have done that film now. Bharathirajaa had told me then that I would remember it all my life and that I would always come back to the south and work here. He was right.Taj Mahal is a movie that will always be special to me, just like how the Bengali film Noukadubi, directed by Rituparno Ghosh, will be special." says Riya.
"While doing that film, Bharathirajaa taught me how a woman should walk. Today, directors don't show you what to do. Anyway, I was a baby then and so took Bharathirajaa for granted. But now, I realize he is a genius. He is unbelievable. Rituparno Ghosh and Bharathirajaa are two directors who were born to direct.They can make even a stone act.Bharathirajaa taught me everything -from body language to emoting with one's eyes. I didn't use what he taught then because I thought every director was going to teach me something. But that wasn't the case. I did a lot of films and I saw the difference between my later films and his film," says Riya.
Ask her to compare the working styles of Rituparno Ghosh and Bharathirajaa and she says, "Both were completely different. The stories they chose were also completely different but that was also because of the culture. In terms of execution, Bharathirajaa was a little more strict. On the sets, Bharathirajaa would treat me like an adult even though I was just 16. One day, he slapped me. I was taken aback. I cried and went back to school. Then, he called me and said, `You are like my daughter. Come back.' Then, I realised that it was his way of teaching his actors. I don't regret that slap till today. I appreciate it. Whatever work he has gotten out of me is brilliant and I would not change that for anything."
So, would she work with him again, if she had to? "A hundred times. I would love to. In fact, I would be better in his movies today than I was back then."
And what if he slaps her again? "Well, if he wants to offer me a movie, yeah, one slap is OK," she says with a laugh, and adds, "I'll try and make sure he doesn't have to slap me, though."