Equal parts talent, elegance and beauty, Raima Sen has always held a certain measure of charm owing to her interesting repertoire right from Chokher Bali to Manorama Six Feet Under to Honeymoon Travels to The Japanese Wife. Having recently completed four Hindi film projects and two Bengali films, the 37-year old actress is a girl on the go, constantly shuttling between Bombay and Calcutta. She makes it look easy. That probably would have something to do with the fact that Raima’s love affair with film started early on in her childhood.
Her first acting role came when she was all of 8 years old, for a telly film. But, did she always know she wanted to be an actor? She takes us down memory lane, “As a kid, I would see my mother dress up. My sister and I would accompany her to her sets and on her travels. We’d see all these people fussing over her and pampering her. I got to witness all the glamour and adulation up close. Of course, I too wanted to be a part of that!”
Did she fit right in? “I didn’t realise how truly difficult acting was until I got my first proper role when I was 18. In the film Godmother alongside Shabana Azmi!” What was that like? “I was scared from start to finish. I kept telling myself I’d made a huge mistake. By the time the film released, I was sure I didn’t want to do this anymore!”
Nineteen years later, Raima is still here and going strong, with no intention of quitting anytime soon. “It took about six to seven films for me to understand what’s going on. Despite my family background and roots in acting, I had no idea what I was doing. I was lost in every aspect! Add to that the constant rejection from screen tests and auditions. I was still questioning my choice of career”, she elaborates. So, what changed? “The turning point came when I was discovered by Rituporno Ghosh, who cast me in Chokher Bali alongside Aishwarya Rai. He taught me everything an actress needs to know. Right from how to walk to how to drape a saree to what films to watch and how to emote with my eyes. If it wasn’t for him, I would’ve changed my profession long ago!”
What’s Raima’s secret to flawless, age-defying skin? “I’ve been lucky to have genetically great skin. My parents have a glowing complexion even at their current age! But that doesn’t mean I can take it for granted. The older you get, the more important it becomes to look after your hair and skin. And I’ve learnt this too late! I started taking skincare seriously only a year ago”, she admits, iterating the importance of starting early with the skincare, “When you’re younger you don’t care much about yourself. But my makeup stylist would always tell me that girls like me enter the industry young with glowing skin and shiny voluminous hair, but by the time we’re done we barely have half of that! It’s true. Skincare is extremely important, especially as you age.”
So, what does she do, in the face of the lights, camera, makeup and the onslaught of travel? She shares, “I’ve got extremely dry and flaky skin. So, it does require care and attention, especially when I’m traveling abroad. I do an oil massage once a week. I make sure I start my day with either Apple Cider Natural Vinegar, raw amla, a spoonful of turmeric or a shot of wheatgrass. I keep alternating between them every month, depending on how my skin is feeling. I don’t let my body get used to just one thing. Apart from that, I make sure I have at least one apple a day, and I have a lot of salmon, broccoli and spinach. I’ve noticed that my skin feels well hydrated and healthier when I’m on a regular diet of these”. Raima comes from a family of big time foodies, and she herself is a major one, “We eat everything – including rice twice a day! So, when I can’t control what I eat, I intensify my workouts. But when I’m on my own, I try to follow a healthy lifestyle. Like I said, it’s all about the balance.”
What are some of Raima’s most trusted skincare products? “Boroline! It’s a Bengali thing. A lot of Bengalis are obsessed with Boroline. My skin is extremely dry and no other moisturiser works for me except this one. I get quite a few looks from people when I tell them I use Boroline for my face. But, it’s my only saviour!”, she laughs before adding, “Apart from that I use Kiehl’s products. Especially their toner and moisturiser”. What’s her skincare routine like? “I use a toner every day, followed by a moisturiser. I cleanse my face with a facewash only once in two days because of my very dry skin. I use makeup wipes to clean out the makeup and the toner does the rest. Plus, the aloe vera gel and extra virgin coconut oil face mask I make helps me cleanse, soothe and hydrate my skin. Every week or so I put on a Multani Mitti face pack. Once a month, I make sure I do a deep-clean facial”.
How does she choose her products? “I depend on those who know better than me! Mostly it’s my mom. She knows the right products, what works and what doesn’t. I really do wish I had the time to learn and understand how certain ingredients work on different skin types, but I’m still trying to figure that out”, she admits sheepishly.
Raima’s skincare mantra is simple yet extremely effective, “what you eat is what will show on your skin”. Therefore, she spends more time focusing on a healthy lifestyle, drinking at least 4 litres of water a day and eating foods that’ll work on her skin from the inside instead of loading up the surface with too many products.
So what would Raima's one beauty advice be to women? “Be yourself. Because, that’s the easiest thing to do. If you run in the rat race with everyone else, you will be like everyone else!”
It doesn’t matter how crazy her life gets, Raima’s feet are planted firmly in the ground. She muses, “With experience, I’m enjoying this space I am in. I’m not competing against anybody. I choose the best of what I get and try to do full justice to the roles I get. I have much to be thankful for. I am in no rush to go anywhere anytime soon.” She doesn’t need to rush, for she has already arrived.