“I Was Really Seduced By The Intimacy Of The Camera As A Form.”
The vivacious SWARA BHASKER has made her mark in B-Town through back- to-back power packed performances. In conversation with Rhea Kapadia, she opens up about her journey and how much she cherishes being in this profession.
Did you always want to become an actor? Well, I don’t know about always but the thing is that we are a cinema watching nation. As a child I was completely obsessed with Chitrahaar and Superhit Muqabla because my father and mother didn’t allow us to have cable for the longest time and my only entertainment in life came from Chitrahaar and Superhit Muqabla. This was when I was eight or nine years old. I think my fascination for films started from that and of course, I forgot about it as I grew up. But when I was in college, I again had the desire to be on the silver screen. I think cinema is a very intimate medium. The camera comes very close to the actor’s body so even if you change the way you breathe, it is registered on camera and I was really seduced by the intimacy of the camera as a form. So I think that’s why I was very interested in being an actor. So just like everybody I also landed up in Bombay by the Mumbai Rajdhani that brought me from Delhi to Bombay. So you know how that shot in films, the typical shot where gaon se aake log apna boriya bistraa lekar pohoch rahe hai. I also landed like that in the middle of a sea of taxis that you see at CST. You’ve been versatile with scripts in your career and the roles played by you in Anaarkali ofAarah and VeereDiWedding have been quite bold. Did you have any inhibitions? There is always an inhibition because you don’t want your work or your performance to be
misunderstood in any way so every time you do something new or take a risk, and I have done that a lot in my career, you want your work to be appreciated if nothing else, at least in the right spirit. I was a little nervous but I think that if you really believe in the script and you trust your director, producers and your makers then honestly, that takes care of things. And in this case I really trusted the script, my writers Nidhi and Mehul, my director Shashanka Ghosh and I trusted Rhea Kapoor. I was like, let’s do this. Of course there was this anxiety before doing “that” (masturbating) scene because as I said I didn’t want it be misinterpreted in any way. So on the whole it was a matter of trust.
How was it on the sets of Veere DiWedding?
It was a ball! It was great fun with Sonam, Kareena, Rhea, Shikha and Shashanka, they are all fun people. So there was really a genuine spirit of friendship and fun and ultimately, that reflected in the film. As the movie had four women in the lead, was the vibe on the set different? It was great fun. I think there was a more relaxed vibe. There was a lot of talk about food. Kareena, Sonam, Shikha and Rhea they are all foodies and I was supposed to be on a diet. I was really tortured by the constant conversation about food. I was just like, ‘oh God kya ho raha hai! Main kaise apne diet ko rakhu?’
Any anecdote from the sets that you’d like to share?
Kareena always teased me by calling me ‘a thinking actor’ and she eventually kept my name ‘Masaan ki thinking actor’ and I kept telling her that I was not even from Masaan.
Most of your roles, apart from Sakshi Soni in Veere DiWedding haven’t been glamorous? Has it ever bothered you?
No, it hasn’t. It is not my primary job as an actor to be glamorous. A place where glamour is the primary need and necessity is the ramp and I am not a ramp model. I think my primary job is to service my role. I think I have always done that to the best of my abilities. I think Anaarkali was a desi glamorous kind of character but it’s nice that in Veere Di Wedding, I got a chance to showcase this other side to my performance or my talent. A chance to show that I am not limited to gritty, realistic or rustic roles and I can also look glamorous if the need arises.
Tell us about your personal style. Is it Indo-western as in TanuWedsManu or very bold and High Street like in VeereDi Wedding?
You are very active on your social media handles like Instagram and Twitter. How do you manage this along with shoots and other public appearances? You know what I’m doing while I am waiting between shots. I’m sending a tweet! It has been a slow and steady journey for you. Did you ever think of giving up ever? Yeah, of course I did. I don’t think you can become a performer without having your fair share of anxiety and insecurity. There have been times where I was very depressed and hopeless and times when I had thought of going back. This phase of mine was very much there during Tanu Weds Manu and Raanjhanaa. But the funny thing that happened in my case was that whenever I was at my lowest point, I would get a new project that made me stay back. I feel my story is as common as everyone else’s. So in the end, I feel that we all should feel happy and blessed for what we have. Given that you have worked in both big budget commercial films as well as artistic content cinema, do you think that the audience is more appreciative of the latter? I think that the audience is definitely changing and that is precisely why the cinema is changing. With social media like Twitter, Instagram, everyone is a critic. Everybody is writing a review and giving stars. So now directors, producers and actors
With Twitter and Instagram, everyone is a critic.”
You have to be a little dheet or have a moti chamdi about your work and performances.”
cannot shy away from what the audience is saying. You cannot live in that bubble of yours where two people in your group are saying ‘wow great’. Critical acclaim has become a thing that affects Box office and has gotten content cinema to achieve that spurt. So if you think of last year, I mean a film like Newton made so much money at the Box office. Also a film like Veere Di Wedding is breaking a lot of grounds in terms of what is acceptable and what is not, and people just love it.
How do you deal with rejection and criticism?
I think the first thing as an actor that you have to do is deal with rejection. The larger part of your career is going to be getting rejected from roles. You will always be rejected in more roles than you will be accepted. So I think the only way to deal with rejection is to have a really strong stomach for it. You have to be a little ‘ dheet, or have a moti chamdi’ about your work and performances. Also you must have more faith in your dreams and your ambitions. If the criticism is constructive, I feel that it’s coming from a right place. People have called me a B grade actor. This is the kind of criticism I don’t take seriously because it’s not coming from a constructive place, it’s coming from a destructive place. Some people take trolling also as criticism. I don’t.
What has been the best compliment that you’ve received throughout your career?
A lot of people have said a lot of nice things about me. Recently I had been to Hong Kong for the
screening at a film festival for Nil Battey Sannata. There was this Philippine lady who works as a maid in Hong Kong. She came up to me after the movie crying. She was a single mother with a daughter who was 14 years old. And she told me, “Thank you for telling out the story of my life’’and she hugged me and did not let me go and told me that I was her hero. It was so moving that I told her that she was my hero because it’s the people like her that such movies are inspired from. So it felt really nice that my work is connected to somebody who doesn’t speak the language of my film, who doesn’t belong from the same country and culture. More recently a lot of praise has come for Veere Di Wedding. This was very special to me because I was very nervous about this film. So every time somebody says something nice about it, I cherish and value those words of appreciation because I didn’t think I’d be able to pull off this role. Could you tell us about your future ventures? Well, after Veere Di Wedding I haven’t signed any film as yet because I want to take my time. After Nil Battey, Anaarkali and Veere Di Wedding I don’t know what I should say ‘yes’ to. I need to find that role and script that matches up to my performances in these films. I have two webseries coming up which are also very interesting. One is for Applause Entertainment called Rasbhari and the other is It’s Not That Simple for Voot. So I think digital space is a very interesting space that is offering a lot of exciting opportunities for actors and I really enjoyed my interaction with that space. So I am quite excited for that as well. Lastly, how has your journey been from Guzaarish to VeereDi Wedding? Hahaha…very wholesome I think. It’s been eight years long since then. I feel very lucky, very blessed to have seen the whole spectrum of that, the experience of what an actor’s life can be. From being new and young and struggling to finally feeling that you have made a small space for yourself feels great. I think I really cherish my work because for any actor who remembers how it feels to not have work, it’s like you are pretty much thanking your stars every day. And the nicest thing that I have heard from people, especially young girls is that I am such a role model for them that they see some part of themselves in me is what I cherish most considering now I have achieved that little recognition.
From being new, young and struggling to finally feeling that you have made a small space for yourself, feels great.”