In conversation with actor Riya Bhattacharje who has worked in Ishq Mein Marjawan 2 and Agni Vayu.
You began the year 2021 with a bang. You starred in two big shows. Just when you kickstarted your career, it came to a halt due to lockdown. What are your emotions?
Franky speaking, initially, I was like ‘What the….!’ (laughs) thinking what is happening. Just when I was working after spending the entire 2020 at home, I felt bad that it all stopped due to the lockdown. But when I around, people are suffering, they are dying and the situation is so scary that now I am thinking ki staying at home is a better option as of now. Right now, I am just praying that things get normal soon.
How are you spending your lockdown?
I have many kittens. I spend time with them. I paint. And now, you know, Instagram Reels. So, I am making videos. I also make videos for YouTube. So, I keep doing something.
You have been part of Ishq Mein Marjawan 2. How has been your experience working on the show?
Experience was really nice. Initially when I went on the sets, I was a bit nervous because the show was already running and I was the new entry. So, I was thinking how people would treat me on set. But when I went, all my co-stars and the crew were so nice, humble and very supportive. It was a family-like environment. So, my experience was very nice. I hadn’t imagined that I would mix up with them so quickly. I miss them. I miss shooting with them.
Do yo have any special memory from the sets?
I would not say special memories but..before that, when I was working in Agni Vayu, my scenes were with only a limited number of actors. But in Ishq Mein Marjawan 2, I had scenes with every co-artist. So, it felt like family. We used to eat together and even if an actor didn’t have a scene, he/she wouldn’t go to his room but stay with the entire crew. So, this was special for me because I didn’t get this experience in Agni Vayu.
You have worked with Helly Shah in IMMJ 2. She has been in the industry for a decade and has been associated with many hit shows. What kind of bond do you share with her, and how was your experience working with her?
She is so sweet, humble and as a co-artist, she is very nice. When I saw that people were so experienced there, at least in comparison to me, but the way they used to behave with me, it was very nice. It never felt like she is the lead actor since people say that lead actors have a different attitude. It’s not true for her. She is very kind.
I never felt any difficulty while shooting the show, because the entire environment was very friendly.
Who is your role model in the entertainment industry?
Frankly, I never thought that I want to become like that person. I always try to take good things from people, be it in the industry or outside. I always try to learn from everyone.
Tell us more about your background and your journey to the entertainment industry.
Long story. (laughs). So, basically, I am from Cooch Behar, West Bengal. Mouni Roy is from the same place. I did my schooling from there. I then shifted to Kolkata for my graduation. I started modeling while in college. I was Miss India East finalist 2014. So, that’s how my journey began. When I came to Mumbai, I always thought of acting, but I wasn’t confident back then, that whether I can act or not. So, I took few workshops and compared my auditions from before and after taking the workshops. When I saw the difference, I gained confidence that I can act.
When I got Agni Vayu, I wasn’t sure if I could do it or not. But then, I thought that I should give it a try. And then, I got Ishq Mein Marjawan 2 after giving the auditions.
How did your parents react when you told them that you wish to go to Mumbai to make a career in the entertainment industry?
I had to convince my parents to let me go to Kolkata for my graduation. They were initially not ready to send me to Kolkata. I stepped out of Cooch Behar for graduation. I had no plans of going into modelling. I just wanted to try. I wasn’t even prepared. But when I got selected, then I called my parents and told them. They were glad. And as I started working, they saw my work. And I think they are proud of me.
When I decided to move to Mumbai from Kolkata, they were not ready. They said a straight no. At that time, I put all my efforts to convince them. I was quite stubborn about it. But I didn’t know anyone here, I knew nothing. So, there were a few problems when I moved here. I asked them to give me some time and let me try. I told them that I don’t want to regret it in the future thinking that I didn’t even try. My father tried to stop me even a day before I had to move. He was like, ‘Keep working here. If you wanna act, do it here. Why do you want to move so far?’
But my parents have always been very supportive. They don’t stop me when I want to try something new. And lastly, my father agreed. He said, ‘Okay try! We are there for you.’
When they see my work now, they realize that I am doing something and that I am not wasting my life here. But I have to do a lot more work and make them even more proud.
Do you want to do TV only? Or would you be doing web-series or films as well?
I have never thought about it. I will grab any good offer. There’s so much competition here, so I don’t want to miss any good opportunity. But at the same time, I am choosy about my roles. I want to do justice to every role that I play.
What were your struggles when you first came to Mumbai?
When I came here, I knew nothing, I knew nobody. I used to search for the production houses on Google and note everything down in a diary. Initially, I didn’t get auditions also. So, I used to give my introduction and leave.
Eventually, I made some friends and they added me to a WhatsApp group. And thus, I used to get messages for auditions. I used to give 5-6 auditions in a day.
I wouldn’t call it a struggle. It was more of a homework. I don’t complain. I enjoyed that process. If I hadn’t done all that, I wouldn’t have got any of the work I have done so far.
Are you dating someone?
(Laughs) No, I am single.
I always think about my work, money and my pets. This is my world.
What kind of shows do you like to watch?
I like to watch comedy shows. I love watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Big Bang Theory and Two And A Half Men.
Beside that, I also watch series like Money Heist, Stranger Things.
Do you watch your own episodes?
Yes, I do. It’s because I want to see how I look, my performance and how can I improve.
Any message for your fans?
After Ishq Mein Marjawan 2 and Agni Vayu, I came to know that I also have a fan base. I am so happy to see them and the love I am getting. People are loving me and that’s the most important thing. People say in award shows that whatever I am, it’s because of my fans. Now I actually understand that why people say that. It’s all about fans.
Even though my role has ended in the show, I still get messages from people. They appreciate me and miss me on screen. So, it feels nice. I love them.