Nandana Sen is an Indian-born American actor, child rights activist, author, producer, and screenplay writer. She has appeared in many famous Hollywood and Bollywood films like Black (2005), The War Within (2005), and Rang Rasiya (2008). Nandana is the daughter of the renowned Indian economist and Bharat Ratna awardee Amartya Sen.
Nandana Dev Sen was born on Saturday, 19 August 1967 (age 56 years; as of 2023) in New Delhi, India. Facebook – Nandana Dev Sen Her zodiac sign is Leo. Nandana lived in Delhi and London for a few years as a child. She moved to Kolkata with her mother at the age of six after the separation of her parents. Sen completed her schooling in Kolkata. Even though she attended an English medium school, she preferred Bengali as her primary language and enjoyed reading classic Bengali literature.
After schooling, she moved to the United States of America (USA) to pursue higher education. There, she earned a bachelor’s degree in arts in English literature. Later, she enrolled at Harvard University, where she earned a master’s degree in English literature. In an interview, she talked about the reasons for moving to the US and said,
I did not want to choose a country that we had been colonized by. I wanted to choose a country toward which I felt no resentment. That’s how I ended up in America. I absolutely loved being at Harvard, I loved studying literature and learning with wonderful writers like Seamus Heaney and Toni Morrison, and [taking] film classes with Spike Lee, it was just great. It couldn’t have been more fun.”
In her first year of studying at Harvard, Nandana won the Detur Prize for topping her class. She went on to win the John Harvard Scholarship and the Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Award for Academic Achievement of the Highest Distinction. In her junior year, she was chosen as a member of the academic honour society Phi Beta Kappa.
After completing post-graduation, Nandana enrolled at the USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles, California, where she underwent a course in film production under the Peter Stark Producing Program and directed many short films, including her final project film Arranged Marriage which was screened at many international film festivals. Later, she took acting classes at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. She has also done a PhD.
Height (approx.): 5′ 5″
Weight (approx.): 65 kg
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Figure Measurements (approx.): 36-32-34
Nandana Sen belongs to a family of Bengali laureates.
Parents & Siblings
Her father, Amartya Sen, is a prominent economist and philosopher.
Her mother, Nabaneeta Dev, was an Indian writer and academician. She passed away in 2019. Amartya and Nabaneeta got divorced when Nanadana was six years old. Her elder sister, Antara Dev Sen, is a journalist in New Delhi.
Husband & Children
Her husband, John Makinson, is the chairman of Penguin Random House. They met each other for the first time in Jaipur during a literary fest. She got married to him in June 2013. In 2018, the couple adopted Meghla Devsen Makinson, a four-year-old Bengali girl.
Her maternal grandmother Radharani Devi (deceased) was a famous Bengali poet.
Nandana Sen follows Hinduism.
After earning her master’s degree at Harvard University, Nanadana Sen was offered a job at the New York-based feminism magazine Ms Magazine. However, she rejected the offer to work with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, an education company in Cambridge, Massachusetts. There, she worked as an editor and edited numerous books including The Riverside Shakespeare and The Best American Essays. Nandana has authored numerous books including Kangaroo Kisses (2016), Talky Tumble of Jumble Farm (2017), Not Yet! (2017), The Monkey Who Wanted to Fly (2018), In My Heart (2019), Youthquake (an anthology of books for adults), Make Up Your Mind (a translated collection of Nabaneeta Dev Sen’s Bengali poetry), and Acrobat.
Acting, Producing, and Screenplay Writing
Nanadana Sen made her Bollywood debut with the 1997 film Gudia in which she essayed the roles of Rosemary Braganza/Urvashi. While giving an interview, Nandana talked about her first film and said that she initially rejected the offer to act in the film as she wanted to assist the director in directing the film. She further added that the director agreed to her demands on one condition, i.e., if she would act in the film in the lead role. She talked about it and said,
While studying, I got accidentally cast by Goutam Ghose in Gudia. I wanted to assist him, but was shocked when he said he wanted to cast me as his lead. He said, ‘I will let you assist me if you agree to be my lead heroine.’ And I made my film debut.”
In 1999, she landed a role in two films, an Italian film titled Branchie, and a Canadian film titled Forever. She bagged the role of Maarya in the 2000 Canadian English drama film Seducing Maarya. She also worked as an associate producer in the film.
In the same year, she wrote the script for a short film titled Forever; she was also the producer of the film. In 2005, she appeared as Duri Choudhury in a Hollywood film titled The War Within, as Reena Wadhwa in a Bollywood film titled My Wife’s Murder, and as Shyamoli in the Bollywood film Tango Charlie. She was catapulted to fame in India after she essayed the role of Sarah McNally (sister of Rani Mukerji’s character) in 2005 in the Bollywood film Black.
She appeared as Rehmat in the British film The World Unseen in 2006. In 2008, she shared the screen with Randeep Hooda in the Hindi film Rang Rasiya; she appeared as Sugandha in the film.
In 2010, she appeared in two Hindi films, Prince, and Jhootha Hi Sahi, and one Bengali film, Autograph. She appeared as Radha in a 2012 bilingual film The Forest.
Apart from being involved in authoring books and acting in films, Nanadana Sen is also involved in child activism. While studying in Kolkata, Sen used to collect eatables and clothes for poor and marginalised children. At Harvard University, she participated in numerous anti-domestic abuse and pro-abortion marches. She has served as the ambassador for Child Protection for Save the Children, India. She later worked with many organisations involved in child activism like UNICEF, RAHI (India’s first organization for survivors of child sexual abuse), and Apne Aap (aims at preventing intergenerational prostitution). Sen has served as an expert on the child’s rights panel and juror with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
Accused of behaving inappropriately during the shooting of a film
In 2006, during the shooting of the film Rockin Meera!, Nandana was accused of misbehaving on the sets. Nandana, however, refuted the claims and claimed that she was misbehaved with on the sets of the film as a result of which she ditched the shoot and returned to Los Angeles from India. She further claimed that Param Gill, the producer of the film, was impressed with her acting skills. Hindustan Times In an interview, she talked about it and said,
I am bewildered because there is not even one fact that is true in what’s been said about my involvement with Rockin Meera! Obviously, the journalist’s source is entirely unreliable. I don’t want to discuss why I did not do the film because it is unpleasant. A key person involved with the film behaved extremely unprofessionally. His behaviour was shockingly inappropriate, in breach of all laws of professional and personal ethics, and made me extremely uncomfortable.”
- In 2022, she won the Wingword Poetry Prize.
- In 2019, she received the Last Girl Champion Award from Apne Aap.
- In 2015, Nanadana received the Kalakar Award for Best Actress.
- She won the Reliance BIG Bangla Rising Star Award as well as the TeleCine Award for Best Actress for the 2010 Bengali film Autograph.
- Nanadana Sen is an avid animal lover. She owns a pet cat named Lekhika.
- Nandana Sen is a hodophile (now who likes to travel a lot) and has visited numerous countries including China, Egypt, and Africa.
- In 2015, she was featured on the cover page of a health magazine titled FHM Active.
- Nandana Sen passionately follows her hobbies of bike riding, reading, and dancing.
- She has served on the expert panel of the Jaipur Literature Festival.
- Her favourite author is Rabindranath Tagore.
- Nanadana Sen is a supporter of the LGBTQIA+ community. She often participates in the marches organised in support of the community in the United States.
- In October 2023, reports about Nandana’s father’s demise surfaced on social media; however, she refuted these claims through a post on X. Mint
Friends, thanks for your concern but it’s fake news: Baba is totally fine. We just spent a wonderful week together w/ family in Cambridge—his hug as strong as always last night when we said bye! He is teaching 2 courses a week at Harvard, working on his gender book—busy as ever! pic.twitter.com/Fd84KVj1AT
— Nandana Sen (@nandanadevsen) October 10, 2023