I made no ef­fort to win it: Rid­dhi Sen on win­ning the Na­tional Award

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The big­gest sur­prise that the 65th Na­tional Awards has thrown for­ward is to hon­our the 19-year-old Ben­gali ac­tor Rid­dhi Sen for his per­for­mance as a trans­gen­der in Kaushik Gan­guly’s 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 work hard is the only means to achiev­ing one’s am­bi­tions. Act­ing is all I’ve known from my child­hood,” he says.

Born into a fam­ily of the­atre and film ac­tors, Rid­dhi started his ca­reer as a film ac­tor when he was 11. At age 15, Rid­dhi had been hon­oured with the Ben­gal govern­ment’s pres­ti­gious award, the Ma­hanayak Sam­man, for his per­for­mance in the film Open Tee Bio­scope (2015). How­ever, Rid­dhi re­jected the hon­our on political grounds. Isn’t he too young to be mix­ing his art with pol­i­tics?

“I don’t agree. Pol­i­tics can never be sep­a­rated from art in our coun­try, no mat­ter what an ac­tor’s age. Yes, I had said no to that hon­our. Firstly, I didn’t think I was wor­thy at that young age of an award named af­ter the great (ac­tor) Ut­tam Ku­mar. Sec­ondly, there was a lot in West Ben­gal’s pol­i­tics that I didn’t like,” he says.

Speak­ing about land­ing the Na­tional Award-win­ning part in Na­garkir­tan, Rid­dhi says, “Not for a mo­ment did I con­sider re­ject­ing the part just be­cause it was un­con­ven­tional. What’s the point of be­ing an ac­tor if you don’t dive into per­son­al­i­ties un­known to you?”

“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,” adds the ac­tor.

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