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Riya Sen's Profile

Name : Riya Sen
Birth name : Riya Dev Varma
Sex : Female
Birthdate : January 24, 1981 (1981-01-24)
Birth place : Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Height : 5' 1" (1.55 m)
Profession : Actress, Model
Education : Loreto House; Kolkata, Rani Birla College; Kolkata
Other Talents : Kathak dancing and Kickboxing


Father : Bharat Dev Varma
Mother : Moon Moon Sen (Actress)
Sister : Raima Sen (Actress)
Grandmother : Suchitra Sen (Actress)

Debut Film as Female lead : Taj Mahal (Tamil)
Claim to Fame : Her role in the film Style (Hindi)


Favourite Actor: Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan
Favourite Actress: Aishwarya Rai
Favourite Hollywood Actor: Keanu Reeves
Likes: Loves to work, have dinner and sleep


This gorgeous daughter of Bengali actress Moon Moon Sen first stepped under the arc lamps at the tender age of 15 when she faced the camera for the famous Tamil flick “Taj Mahal”, directed by Bharati Raja.

She was supposed to make her Bollywood debut opposite Akshay Khanna in Kailash Surendranath’s “Love You Hamesha” but unfortunately the film could not hit the turnstiles owing to differences between the producer and distributors.

Meanwhile Riya became a known face on the Indipop circuit featuring in quite a considerable number of music videos including Jagjit Singh-Asha Bhosle’s “Jab Samne Tum” and “Kahin Kahin Se”.

Her debut flick in Bollywood, N. Chandra’s “Style” turned out to be an unexpected debacle. But the petite Riya Sen continues undeterred to carry forward the legacy left behind by her mom and grand mother Suchitra Sen.

As the saying goes, 'like mother like daughter', Riya Sen too acquired the 'sex symbol' image in Bollywood just like her mother Moon Moon Sen, who is regarded as sexiest actress of her time. On the contrary, Raima Sen has acquired the image of a soft shy actress like her grandmother Suchitra Sen.

Acting career

Riya first appeared as a child artist in the film Vishkanya in 1991, where she played the role of the young Pooja Bedi. At the age of fifteen, National Film Awards winning director Bharathiraja's Tamil film, Taj Mahal (2000), which did not achieve commercial success. She was scheduled to make her Bollywood film debut in Love You Hamesha, opposite actor Akshaye Khanna; however, the film was stalled, and she ultimately made her debut in N. Chandra's Style (2001). This low-budget sex comedy was the first commercial success in over a decade for the director, whose previous successes included Ankush (1986) and Tezaab (1988). A launch pad for Riya, cast in the female lead along with fellow-newcomers, Sharman Joshi, Sahil Khan and Shilpi Mudgal, the film pioneered a trend of commercial success for small budget films in India. Riya and the second female lead of the film were replaced by aspirant actresses Sunali Joshi and Jaya Seal in Xcuse Me, the sequel of Style.

Her next success was Jhankaar Beats, a comedy revolving around the music of legendary composer R D Burman, which saw her playing a small and glamorous role alongside Shayan Munshi, Juhi Chawla, Rahul Bose, Rinke Khanna and Sanjay Suri. Produced by Pritish Nandy, publishing director of The Times of India, and directed by debutant director Sujoy Ghosh,the film was made on a budget of Rs. 25 million (US$525,000), marking the sixth in a row of small to medium budget films made by Pritish Nandy Communications (PNC). Despite being part of a wave of offbeat films that mostly failed to make an impact at the box office, it surprisingly drew public attention upon its release, which led to a commercial success among a restricted audience targeted by a selective release in twenty cities. It was one of the first films made in Hinglish, a mixture of Hindi and English. In 2005, she starred in Shaadi No. 1, which saw her sharing screen time with Esha Deol, Soha Ali Khan and Ayesha Takia, without anyone getting established as the female lead. This comedy, which is based on the theme of modern marriage, was directed by David Dhawan, a renowned film director from this genre.

Although films like Style and Jhankar Beats succeeded commercially, most of her later films have generated less revenue. A number of them remained unfinished. While many of her appearances have been item numbers and cameos, few of her leading roles have been in low-budget films. Though she had small roles in Dil Vil Pyar Vyar (2002), Qayamat (2003) and Plan (2004), attention was drawn to her item numbers in all three, especially the one in Qayamat that featured her in a bubble-bath. Besides this, she performed another item number in James (2005) on director-producer Ram Gopal Varma's behest, who has a history of casting aspirant actress-models like Sameera Reddy, Isha Koppikar and Koena Mitra in similar roles. Furthermore, she took part in a dance number for Sajid Khan's Heyy Babyy (2007) that featured several mainstream Bollywood actresses such as Amisha Patel, Diya Mirza, Neha Dhupia, Amrita Rao and Celina Jaitley, among others.

Riya has, in addition to Bollywood films, appeared in Bengali, Tamil, Malayalam and English films. Her film career began in the earnest with Tamil films such as Bharathi Raja's Taj Mahal, co-starring Manjoj Bharatiraja in the male lead, and Manoj Bhatnaghar's Good Luck, oppsite Prasanth. Both of the films failed commercially, and she had a brief reappearance in Tamil cinema only to perform in a dance number for N. Maharajan's Arasatchi.

Her first English language movie was "It Was Raining That Night", a remake of the Bengali film "Hei Brishtir Raat", scripted by Sudeshna Roy and directed by Mahesh Manjrekar. In the film, she collaborated with mother Moon Moon Sen. Riya was slated to appear in Anjan Dutta's Bengali-English bilingual film "The Bong Connection" with her sister, but she was eventually dropped from the project and replaced by Peeya Rai Chaudhary. The two sisters were later cast together in director Ajai Sinha's "The Bachelor", a Bengali film that, as of 2008, is yet to be finished.

Her most successful non-Hindi film has been director Santhosh Sivan's Ananthabhadram (2005). The first Malayalam venture for both Riya and Sivan, was both a critical and commercial success. It won five Kerala State Film Awards and surfaced as one of the biggest Malayalam successes that year. She played the role of Bhama in the film, a village girl who is lured by Digambaran, the evil magician portrayed by Manoj K Jayan. In a song-and-dance sequence showing Digambaran turning Bhama into a medium for demonic rituals, the choreographer Aparna Sindoor made abundant use Kathakali movements. The use of Kathakali has been a high point in the resurgence of the classical dance form in other major Indian films as well, including Shaji Karun's Vanaprastham (1999) and Adoor Gopalakrishnan's Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair (2005). She has now made her comeback to the south for her Tamil film Ennai Teriyuma which also starres Sneha Ullal who marks her Tamil film debut.

Modeling career

Riya became a popular model when she appeared in numerous music videos for songs by popular singers, including Falguni Pathak's Yaad Piya Ki Aane Lagi (alternative title: Chudi Jo Khankayi), Asha Bhosle's Jhumka Gira Re, Jagjit Singh and Bhosle's Jab Samne Tum and Kahin Kahin Se, Lata Mangeshkar, Bhonsle and Singh's Dil Kahin Hosh Kahin, Sonu Nigam's Jeena Hai Tere Liye and Shaan's Sutta Maro. She shot for her first music video, Yaad Piya Ki Aane Lagi, at the age of sixteen. This led to her being identified primarily as a performer for music videos early in her career, an image she aimed to shed in 2005. Riya has appeared on several magazine covers, including Femina, Elaan, Man's World, Gladrags, Savvy and Indian versions of Elle, Maxim and Cosmopolitan, as well as on the ramp of major fashion shows like Lakmé Fashion Week (2005–07) and Wills Fashion Week (2006–2007). She participated in fashion shows along with her elder sister, Raima Sen. Besides modeling, Riya has ventured into the advertisement world as well. A high point of her modeling career came in 2006, when she became the soft drink, Limca's brand ambassador, replacing Deepika Padukone. Her other notable assignments include Colgate, Dabur Vatika, Reliance Industries, Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate, and Nirma.

In 2004, she was featured partially nude in leading Indian photographer Dabboo Ratnani's annual calendar, which is a major happening in the Indian glamor industry. According to Daboo, "Her mother saw it much later, after the calendar released. She thought it was too sexy, and Riya shouldn't have done it. But the response to the photograph was superb. Riya was so thrilled that for her next ad campaign, she asked me to light her up like I did in this." A career highlight for the model, it led to a three year contract with Ratnani to feature her on his annual calendar. She is the only female face to be featured on the calendar in five consecutive years (2003–07).

Personal life and family

Born on January 24, 1981 in Kolkata, West Bengal, Riya is the daughter of Moon Moon Sen, a former actress, and granddaughter of Suchitra Sen, a legend in Bengali cinema. Before moving to Mumbai, she lived in Kolkata with her parents and sister Raima Sen, also an actress. Her father Bharat Dev Varma is a member of the royal family of Tripura. Her paternal grandmother, Ila Devi, was the princess of Cooch Behar, whose younger sister Gayatri Devi is the Maharani of Jaipur. Her paternal grandmother Indira was the only daughter of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III of Baroda. Riya's maternal great-grandfather Adinath Sen was a prominent Kolkata businessman, whose father Dinanath Sen was the Diwan or a Minister of the Maharaja of Tripura. The sisters are credited on-screen under their grandmother's maiden name, although their official papers carry the surname Dev Varma.

Riya completed her schooling at Loreto House and Rani Birla College, both in Kolkata, but dropped out of both institutions. She briefly studied at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, and she took up jewellery-designing as a hobby. She designs most of the clothes that she wears in films and commercials. Riya is trained in Kathak and kickboxing and took lessons in belly dancing. Riya entered the film industry through small-time modeling assignments, commuting between Mumbai and Kolkata and traveling by public transport during the her early career. After breaking into the film industry, she shifted from her mother's house in Ballygunge Circular Road in south Kolkata to Mumbai. There she moved into the family house in Juhu, where she stays with her sister. During her stay in Mumbai, the media romantically linked her to model and actor John Abraham.

Riya has suffered a number of untimely incidents. During the filming of Shaadi No. 1 in France, she was knocked unconscious after being accidentally run over by a stuntman's motorbike, but she was not seriously injured. Shortly before the release of Silsiilay, in which she starred opposite her boyfriend Ashmit Patel, a 90-second video clip was circulated through Multimedia Messaging Services and the internet, showing the pair in compromising situations. This was one of a number of controversies that erupted when celebrities were caught in similar situations using cameraphones. Following this incident, the couple split up, although Riya denied that she was the female in the MMS clip. One commentator claimed that the footage was an orchestrated publicity stunt. In 2007, she underwent a brief detoxification session in Bangkok for addiction to chocolate.

Public persona

Riya's on-screen performances have established her as a sex symbol and youth icon in India. Since entering the film industry, she has gained attention for wearing a bikini in Shaadi No. 1 and sharing on-screen kisses with co-stars Ashmit Patel in Silsiilay and Sharman Joshi in Style, respectively. Such performances garnered attention because of the relatively conservative outlook of Indian cinema and her own statements about such practises. Before becoming a film identity, she had a reputation for partying, which started at the age of fifteen. Riya's public persona is compared to her mother Moon Moon, who was seen as a sex symbol of her time, while her sister Raima is mostly compared their grandmother Suchitra.

Although her film career has yet to achieve large-scale success, Riya has generated considerable media attention. She was ranked ninth on Femina 50 Most Beautiful Women, published in the magazine's September 2007 issue. She was a jury member for the 2008 Final of the Mr. India contest. Along with Bollywood actors such as Waheeda Rehman, Shilpa Shetty, Dia Mirza, Raveena Tandon, Jackie Shroff, Naseeruddin Shah, Tabu and Lara Dutta, Riya appeared in Haath Se Haath Mila, an HIV/AIDS awareness music video. She made charity appearances at McDonald's India to raise money for paediatric eye-care during World Children's Week (November 14–20) in 2003

  • Daughter of actress Moon Moon Sen and Bharat Dev Varma, a descendant of the royal family of Cooch Behar. Her maternal grandmother is the legendary actress Suchitra Sen.
  • Sister of actress Raima Sen.
  • First stepped into the limelight at the age of 15 when she faced the camera for the Tamil film 'Taj Mahal' directed by 'Bharati Raja' .
  • She studied at the Rani Birla College in Calcutta.
  • Has starred in a number of music videos in the Indipop circuit.


"I’ll define my own morality"
~ Riya Sen

"My character in Qayamat demanded a fair bit of oomph and I’ve been faithful to it. Anyway, I don’t understand why people are getting so excited about it — flesh is all over society, it’s all over the idiot box."
~ Riya Sen

"It’s a modern fun-filled youth extravaganza with brilliant music, which I am told, is doing really well on the charts."
~ Riya Sen

"For a newcomer, Sujoy (Ghosh) has done a splendid job."
~ Riya Sen

"Shayan and I have known each other for years. We’re both Bengalis. We did our first ad-film together. Our relationship is on an altogether different level."
~ Riya Sen

"I enjoy commercial cinema and make no bones about it. I like girls like Kareena, Antara and Bipasha, all modern and independent forward-thinkers who do what their sensibilities dictate. Their clarity of thought is invigorating."
~ Riya Sen

"Mum is really a prototype of a strong independent woman who knows her mind, and runs on conviction rather than pre-set norms. And that’s exactly how we are — our mama’s daughters."
~ Riya Sen


Nenu Meeku Telusa? (oct, 2008) (Post Production)
Heroes (October 24, 2008) (Under Production)
India Rocks (2008) (To Go On Floor)
The Bachelor (2008) (Stuck/On Hold) ...... Nisha
Love Game (2008) (To Go On Floor)
Tum..Ho Na! (2008) (Post-Production)
Hum Phirr Milein Na Milein (2008) (Completed)
Rokda (2008) (Post-Production)
Tara Sitara (2008) (Released)
Zor Lagaaa Ke Haiya (2008) (Under Production) ...... Chamki
Love Khichdi (2008) (Under Production)
Paying Guests (2008) (Under Production)
Heyy Babyy (August 24, 2007) (Released) ...... Special Appearance In Song
Apna Sapna Money Money (November 10, 2006) (Released) ...... Shivani Pandit
Shaadi No.1 (November 2, 2005) (Released) ...... Madhuri
James (September 16, 2005) (Released) ...... Item Girl In Title Credits
Fareb (July 8, 2005) (Released)
Silsiilay (June 17, 2005) (Released) ...... Anushka
Dil Ne Jise Apna Kahaa (September 10, 2004) (Released) ...... Kaveri(Speacial Appearience)
Plan (January 9, 2004) (Released)
Qayamat (July 11, 2003) (Released) ...... Sheetal (As Sen Riya)
Jhankaar Beats (June 20, 2003) (Released) ...... Preeti
Dil Vil Pyar Vyar (October 18, 2002) (Released) ...... Special Appearance
Style (December 28, 2001) (Released) ...... Sheena
Love You Hamesha (1999) ...... Meghna
Vishkanya (1991) (Released) ...... Young Nishi

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