They were in the same school in Kolkata but they didn't know each other then. He's five years older; that's a lot when your whole life is 10 years, or 15. Then, about eight years ago, they met. Qaushiq Mukherjee, known as Q, had become a director. She was an actress who went to audition for a film. They started a relationship. It wasn't true love from the beginning, says Rituparna Sen a.k.a. Rii, 32. It was more like lust. And there was a problem: "He was married at the time". It didn't stop anything.
"We were young and volatile. Before long I was spending so much time with him that I hardly ever went home", says Rii. They moved in together. It's been five years now.
Neither of them wants to get married. They are happy to just be together, living in. People always talk, says Rii, "But, I suppose, because our profession has a bit of glamour to it, they're more willing to accept us".
Q has made a name for himself as a maker of edgy films. His last film, 3X, was about sexuality from a female viewpoint. His latest, Gandu, is a Bengali film featuring rap music, full frontal nudity, masturbation, and lots of expletives. Rii is known for her sedcutress-type roles. It's all rather hard for the average Bengali bhadralok to stomach.
Nevertheless, the Bongs have kept their peace.
They've been honest about the nature of their relationship, says Rii. Their landlady, for example, knows they are not married, and doesn't have a problem about that. "She doesn't judge us" says Rii. "People, in general, however, are a different story".
But nobody's been "unkind enough to say anything to our face and what they say when we're not there doesn't really make a difference," she adds.
The living together has changed the tone of their relationship somewhat. They are more settled now. "Before we moved in with each other, it was a different sort of life. Everything between us was so crazy and romantic. After we moved in, things changed. I found myself absorbed in the more practical side of things. We settled into a routine. It's the day-to-day stuff that keeps us close now", she says.
It hasn't been all roses for her, though. Her family was opposed to the relationship. "My family made my life hell", she says. "I had huge fights about it. I don't know what Q went through. He is older and more mature than me. And I suppose it's simpler for a guy. But my family — that was the hardest part".
That issue is still not settled.