Nandana Sen

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Nandana Sen
Nandana sen 2010(2).jpg
Nandana Sen at the Tagore Literature Awards.
Born Nandana Dev Sen
(1967-08-19) 19 August 1967 (age 47)
Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Residence London, United Kingdom
Occupation Actor, activist
Years active 1997-2010

Nandana Sen (born Nandana Dev Sen in Kolkata) is a former film actress, Indian writer, and child-rights activist.

Early life[edit]

Sen was born in New Delhi, India to a Bengali Hindu family. She is the daughter of Nobel Laureate and Bharat Ratna economist Amartya Sen and Padma Shri winner Nabanita Dev Sen, one of the most prominent authors in the contemporary Bengali literature. Nandana Sen's first piece of writing was published when she was a child in the magazine Sandesh, selected by Satyajit Ray.[1] She spent her growing years in various cities across Europe, India and America.

Nandana Sen was born in New Delhi when her father Prof. Amartya Sen was teaching at the Delhi School of Economics (1965-1971).


Nandana Sen studied literature at Harvard University,[2] where she was awarded the Detur Prize in her first year for topping her class,[3] and thereafter every year she also won both the John Harvard Scholarship and the Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Award for Academic Achievement of the Highest Distinction. As a Junior, she was elected early into the academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa. Subsequently, Sen studied Film Producing at the Peter Stark Producing Program at the USC Film School. She wrote and directed various short films, including her thesis film “Arranged Marriage” which was shown at multiple film festivals. As an actor, Nandana trained at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, New York, as well as the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London.

Professional life[edit]

Along with acting in theatre and films internationally, Nandana also promotes the cause of child protection. Nandana is Smile Ambassador for the global children’s NGO Operation Smile,[4] UNICEF India's National Celebrity for Child Protection and against Gender Based Violence,[5] and Cause Ambassador for RAHI (India's first organization to break the silence about child sexual abuse).[6] She collaborates with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) as a Child Rights Expert and Juror for Public Hearings.[7] Whenever possible, Nandana Sen has combined her commitment to child rights with her acting work.[3][8][9][10] Nandana has been actively fighting to stop the crisis of child trafficking in India,[10][11][12] both with organizations such as the NCPCR and the Terre des hommes foundation[12][13] as well as addressing this topic in cinema.[14]

Sen experienced her first taste of cinema while still a student when director Goutam Ghose tapped her to play the lead in his dark and disturbing psychodrama The Doll (Gudia)[15] as one of the targets of a middle-age man's sexual obsession.

Her first vehicle in Bollywood was the Rani Mukherjee and Amitabh Bachchan starrer Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black (2005) in which she played the role of Rani’s 17-year-old younger sister. Sen gave a highly proclaimed performance in the role and the film was applauded by both audience and critics.[16] Time Magazine (Europe) selected the film as one of the 10 Best Movies of the Year 2005 from across the globe.[17]

After teaming up on a succession of projects with Indian directors including Ram Gopal Varma and Ketan Mehta, Sen signed for one of the principal roles in the jarring, terrorist-themed American drama The War Within (2005)[18] and, in the process, both made a name for herself and began to cultivate a reputation for being drawn to offbeat, challenging, and demanding roles, often with a social or political theme.[14]

In the anti-war film Tango Charlie, Sen played the female lead opposite Ajay Devgan (also starring Sanjay Dutt and Bobby Deol) and with Anil Kapoor in My Wife's Murder. Both of these movies did well with critics.[19] Nandana followed this by signing lead roles opposite Salman Khan in the bilingual Hollywood-Bollywood film Marigold,[20] and Vivek Oberoi in Prince, at the same time playing the protagonist in unconventional but acclaimed films such as Strangers[21] and The Forest.

The British television series Sharpe increased her notability. The episode ‘Sharpe’s Peril’ featured Sen in a pivotal role.[22] In 2007, Sen signed on to portray a young rebellious woman fleeing from law authorities in director Shamim Sarif's lesbian-themed period drama The World Unseen. In 2010, Nandana starred in the Bengali super-hit Autograph,[23] for which she was awarded the TeleCine Award for Best Actress and the Reliance BIG Bangla Rising Star Award.

Sen, whose professional choices have included a tenure as a literary editor at Houghton Mifflin Company, is also a screenwriter, and a published writer in multiple genres, including poetry,[24][25] narrative non-fiction,[26][27][28] and Op Eds.[29][30][31][32] Her first original screenplay to be made into a film was Forever, funded by Telefilm Canada.[33] She was commissioned by Divani Films to adapt R.K. Narayan’s novel Waiting For the Mahatma into a film script, and by Big Bang Company to write an original script focusing on a father-daughter relationship. Sen frequently contributes articles to newspapers and journals, and has also translated a book of poems by her mother Nabaneeta Dev Sen, titled Make Up Your Mind (iUniverse, 2013). Represented by Ed Victor Literary Agency, Nandana is writing a children’s book in verse, called Kiss This Kangaroo![3]

Personal life[edit]

Nandana Sen tied the knot in the month of June 2013, she is married to John Makinson, CEO of Penguin Publishing.[34]

She first married Horst Yorgen Rutsch, a Spanish professor who was doing research at Harvard University, in December 1994. They later separated and finally divorced. She also dated an Indian film director, Madhu Mantena, for few years.


Year Film Role Language Notes
1997 The Doll / Gudia Rosemary Braganza / Urvashi Hindi credited as Nandana Dev Sen
1999 Branchie Italian
Forever Nadia English Short feature
2000 Seducing Maarya Maarya English
2002 Bokshu, The Myth English
2004 The Miracle: A Silent Love Story
2005 The War Within Duri Choudhury English
My Wife's Murder Reena Wadhwa Hindi
Tango Charlie Shyamoli Hindi
Black Sara McNally Hindi
2006 The Silence / Chuppee Short feature
2007 The World Unseen Rehmat English
Strangers Preeti English / Hindi
Marigold Jaanvi English / Hindi
2008 Sharpe's Peril Maharani Padmini English bbTV Movie
Rang Rasiya Sugandha Hindi also known as "Colours of Passion" released only in London. Released in 2014 in India.
2009 The Forest Radha English / Hindi
Kaler Rakhal Bengali
Perfect Mismatch Neha English
2010 Autograph Srinandita Bengali
Prince Serena Hindi
Jhootha hi sahi Suhana Malik Hindi


  1. ^
  2. ^ nandana sen harvard - Google Search
  3. ^ a b c Amartya Sen's daughter Nandana meticulously handles her passion from movies to non-profit work - Economic Times
  4. ^ Operation Smile India - News & Press - News
  5. ^ UNICEF India - Our partners - Celebrities Supporting UNICEF’s Work in India
  6. ^ RAHI - Recovering and Healing from Incest
  7. ^ TWF India-“Child abuse a neglected crisis in India”
  8. ^ My work in child protection has been integral to my life: Nandana Sen - Times Of India
  9. ^ Sen and sensibility - The Hindu
  10. ^ a b Gender sensitivity is a matter of life & death
  11. ^ There's hypocrisy in our showbiz: Nandana Sen - Times Of India
  12. ^ a b ‘State ranks second in child trafficking’ - The Hindu
  13. ^ Nandana Sen to fight against child trafficking - The Times of India
  14. ^ a b Nandana the maneater
  15. ^ The Doll | Variety
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Movie Review : Black". Retrieved 2013-08-25. 
  18. ^ The War Within | Variety
  19. ^
  20. ^ Marigold | Variety
  21. ^
  22. ^ Sean Bean And Nandana Sen Cross Sharpe Swords In Orcha! - Planet Bollywood News
  23. ^ Autograph - Prosenjit Chatterjee, Nandana Sen - Bengali Movie (2010) - Shree Venkatesh Films Production - Cinergy Pictures
  24. ^ Most Read : Nandana Sen's Blog : nandana.sen - Times Of India Blog
  25. ^
  26. ^ Mother of all stories
  27. ^ Nandana shocked at Durga ma in bikini top! - Times Of India
  28. ^ When another umbrella flew off exposing my first almost-kiss by Nandana Sen's Blog : Nandana Sen's blog-The Times Of India
  29. ^ Pass By On The Sidewalk, Without Looking | Nandana Sen
  30. ^ ‘Gender sensitivity is a matter of life and death... all of us are accountable’ - Indian Express
  31. ^ Post 26/11, actress Nandana Sen finds herself in a reflective mood
  32. ^ Of missing girls and missing the point
  33. ^ Forever – Divani Films
  34. ^

External links[edit]