Swara Bhaskar Curated
CURATED BY :
Why did you break-up with Himanshu Sharma?
I think you just have to sort of deal with it. In our case, it was very unfortunate. I didn’t have or I still didn’t have a lot of anger that could have helped me deal with it. Nobody did anything bad, nobody did anything wrong, nobody cheated on anyone. It was not those typical things, it was unfortunate.
Did you tell your parents that you are visiting Delhi?
I didn’t tell my parents as I knew they would be worried and so when I arrived in Delhi, they were both taken totally by surprise. I am so glad to be with them and be able to help my mum a bit. I am useless in the kitchen but I comb her hair with great sincerity.
Who took care of your mother during her injury?
Luckily my sister-in-law was in Delhi and was able to move in and help my mom with daily tasks like changing and combing her hair.
How did your mother get injured?
My mum fell and fractured her shoulder in her Delhi home last week and I have been in lockdown in Bombay worrying. It is a fracture of the collarbone and so, her whole torso is in a brace and she has to keep her right hand and right side of the torso immobilised.
Were you feeling guilty for not being with your mom during this painful times?
I had been feeling both restless and guilty for not being in Delhi to help my mum. So when the movement was allowed, I got the necessary permissions and decided to go from Mumbai to Delhi by road. It was a mega two-day road trip with all my five pets - three cats, a kitten and one dog.
How do you tackle the criticism of the audience?
Does Narendra Modi lack Modern Leadership? What do you feel?
How has your family support been?
Abiding, endless, essential to my sanity and responsible for any achievement of mine.
What according to you is your USP?
My energy, my lack of inhibition and my eyes.
Commercial films or art house films - which is your choice?
Both. I believe a performer should be able to do everything when it comes to performing. Commercial films fulfill that need in an artist for their work to reach the maximum audience and generally speaking art films provide those intense performance oriented roles which satisfy one’s creative needs. So both!
How did ‘Tanu weds Manu’ happen?
I knew casting director and brilliant lyricist Raj Shekhar from another film and when he was casting for TWM he called me. Interestingly I auditioned thrice for the role and I think I got the part after two other actresses refused it. I always joke with director Aanand Rai that I’m like the ghostly shadow he could not get rid of! Funnily my work in TWM was greatly appreciated and Tanu Weds Manu also won me nominations in all six awards that year and the Zee Cine Award 2012 for Best Supporting Actress! I think the real credit for my performance in Tanu Weds Manu ought to go to writer Himanshu Sharma for writing the character of Payal in the manner in which he did, and Aanand sir (director Aanand Rai) for directing, and shaping the character the way he did. It's not often in Bollywood that one sees the heroine’s friend getting to spout such spunky dialogues and perform such meaty scenes. I enjoyed playing Payal thoroughly, especially since my mother's side of the family hails from Eastern UP-Bihar, I really had fun working on the accent for the character. Tanu Weds Manu I think like all of Aanand Rai's sets was a really happy place and I had the good fortune of working with affable colleagues like Kangana, Madhavan, Deepak Dobriyal and Eijaz Khan. We shot extensively in Lucknow and Jalandhar, both cities with warm, generous-hearted people and amazing food, and MY GOD we ATE! So yes, I have very fond memories of the film and shall forever be grateful to Aanand sir and writer Himanshu Sharma.
How did acting happen?
I think the desire to become an actor was sown secretly in my head since I was 5 years old when I used to be an avid Chitrahaar fan. I wanted to see myself on Chitrahaar one day J. The desire germinated more consciously from the time that I was in college in JNU. I began to have a crazy desire to see myself on screen when I would go to the theaters to watch films, and the feeling just would not ebb! So I took a pretty quick decision, as soon as I finished my Masters, I told my parents (who have been very consistently supportive of me), packed my bags and landed at CST- in that classic shot from the films of the outsider landing in the city of dreams with bag and baggage- boraa-bistar!
What does freedom mean to Swara Bhasker?
The freedom to say 'yes' and the right to say 'no'.
Do you have friends like the ones you had in the film 'Veere di Wedding'?
I don't know anybody like Sakshi. I was scared of plating the super bitch, excuse my language. So I told Rhea and Shashanka (Ghosh, director) that let's not make Sakshi a cardboard of a superb bit**. Like I remember I had a scene where a chowkidaar tells me that you can't park your car here or he'll puncture my car, and I shoot back: Kar de puncture, karke dikha, jala dungi tujhe. So while I have crazy friends, and I myself am a bit crazy, I really didn't have an exact reference point to build my character. Well, we all have had our misadventures, young age brings recklessness and the urge to explore- you know how it is. I just started observing the people around me more closely with whom I interacted, picked up a few traits from here and there aur ho gaya...
Did you really expect that Veere Di Wedding will be a success?
I had a gut feeling that it will do very well. It expresses the youth feeling of the young urban, I didn't expect a double digit collection on Day 1 though. I thought it would be Rs 6 crore at best. Kareena and I were betting, we both were nervous, even Kareena felt that it would be around Rs 6 crore on the first day. We surely did not expect Rs 10.7 crore. But we cracked it!
What is your stand on the recent debate around nepotism? You are not an industry insider, but your friends are influential figures. What are your views?
Yes, some of my friends could not be more starry. Nepotism may not be the right the word to describe the system. Bollywood is feudal, it works on dynasties and relationships, and it has always been like that. It is not your IAS and CAT, where everyone sits for a common entrance test. No workplace works like that, unless you are in the press, academia or bureaucracy. Don’t you think our society has historically favoured the privileged castes and classes? They have always had an advantage over the backward classes and they continue to. The backward classes suffer all their lives because of where they come from, and then we have issues with reservation. Bollywood, on the other hand, has been a lot more open to merit and competition. It seems to me that some of the biggest stars are not from the industry – Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Vidya Balan. Kangana Ranaut is not from the industry and she is doing well, isn’t she? Yes, industry kids do get a lead, but Bollywood is now more open to talent than before which is why you have Irrfan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Richa Chadha, Rajkummar Rao, and even me. I think the industry kids have been far nicer to me than some of the snobbish outsiders.
Your parents are naval officer C Uday Bhaskar and film scholar Ira Bhaskar. How did your upbringing shape your career choices?
My formative years as a child in an upper middle class family in Delhi – which was just middle class before the Fifth Pay Commission – was about going for classical music and dance classes, prepping for a GRE and a PhD and later theatre with NK Sharma. But I always had Chitrahaar dreams, and that brought me here. My experience with progressive thought, culture and art and their role in social transformation has always influenced my choices. My background in literature and sociology shows in the way I prepare for my roles. In one of my earlier films, there was a line that said, “Bangladeshi aur kuttey kahin par bhi ghus jaate hain.” It was meant to be realistic, and no one objected to it. But I refused to say it because it was outright offensive.
Several films deal female sexuality, but it seems that the Indian censor board is not comfortable with the idea – look at what happened to ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’. What are your views?
It is absolutely shameful that the film was refused certification by the censor board. The decision should be challenged in court. It is reflective of the sad and sick mindset of people who are in positions of power. They should relook at this entire, unfortunate debate. The censor board cannot cut out scenes. There is so much randomness around all this. A film with massive amount of snogging gets a U/A certificate. Parched, with its abusive dialogue, is unscathed with an A certificate. Why has Anaarkali been asked to make cuts?
To make a film about a protagonist who is unapologetic about her sexuality acceptable to audiences, you would have to compromise somewhere, right?
I don’t think we have really compromised. We have kept it real, original. There are certain limitations in the context of the story, and that decided what agency the character could have. Anaarkali remains unapologetic, stubborn and not very clever, perhaps dumb. Perhaps it would have been smarter to compromise and hunker down, but she does not do that. She is almost self-destructive. Anyone who challenges the status quo would be, I guess. I don’t see her as someone forced to compromise. If you see her introductory scenes leaked online, which are not in the film, you will see Pankaj Tripathi groping her breast, and it has been shot as is. Her reaction is interesting.
‘Anaarkali of Aarah’ is about a woman who takes ownership of her body and sexuality. What is your interpretation of the character?
Anaarkali’s sexuality, which is an important part of her life, has been presented in a way Bollywood may not have seen before. So far, you have only had the angelic, cloaked sexuality of a woman and the binary opposition of a more sexually visible character, who is called a vamp. Anaarkali is a woman who uses lyrics with double entendre and performs for all-male audiences. She speaks about sex and desire in open ways. Every time our cinema has spoken about sexual violence, assault, gender and sexual conflict, it has either used the trope of a prostitute with a golden heart or normal “working girls just like us.” Anaarkali is someone who says, I am character-less, I am loose. Now what? Let’s start the conversation here. I think it is truly brave and important. The only other Hindi film that was in a similar space was The Dirty Picture. But it was a biopic and was a different kind of exploration of sexuality. It did not get into the contentious space of sexual transgression and eve teasing because she “asked for it”.
‘Nil Battey Sannata’ was supposed to have been your breakout film. Now, ‘Anaarkali of Aarah’ is being touted as the gamechanger. What are your views?
Yes, I know. I must have been launched 300 times already. I guess the perception is because every time I have done a film, I have taken audiences by surprise. Purely in terms of the spirit in which my films have been delivered, Nil Battey Sannata was indeed my breakout film. It was a role that not a lot of my contemporaries would necessarily put their names and faces to. There is a real problem of being typecast in this industry. It is a totally legitimate concern, and now that it turned out well for me, everyone is saying wow! I would say this breakout business is a good business. It keeps me relevant. Being touted as a young and new actor who is relevant and not boring or predictable is a compliment.
If you could change any event from history, what would it be?
If you could change one thing about Bollywood, what would it be?
If you meet God and could make one request to him, what would it be?
Who is/are your favorite politician(s) and why?
If Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru was alive today, what would you ask him?
If you could ask a question to Arvind Kejriwal, what would it be?
If you could ask a question to Kanhaiya Kumar, what would it be?
If you could ask a question to Rahul Gandhi, what would it be?
Do you think Bollywood lacks the amount of awareness of what is happening around?
If Karan Johar invites you to go to Delhi with him and get a selfie clicked with our Prime Minister 'Mr. Modi', would you accompany him?
Why is it that we do not see you in Bollywood parties? Do you feel like an outsider in Bollywood?