Swara Bhasker’s choice of roles over the last nine years has been varied. From starring in mainstream films like Tanu Weds Manu and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo to bringing to screen the characters as strong as Anarkali in Anarkali of Aarah or Chanda in Nil Battey Sannata, Swara has time and again established that she has all the abilities to stand apart from the crowd. The actor will next be seen in Shashanka Ghosh’s film Veere Di Wedding and just like her other movies, here too, Swara has pushed boundaries as an actor.
Being a quintessential small-town girl of Hindi cinema, her role of a rich spoilt brat in Veere Di Wedding has left Swara’s fans amazed. Talking about her transition from those unglamorous roles to everything glamorous in Veere Di Wedding, Swara says, “It has been a big transition and it has been a challenge as well. This is a role that is out of my comfort zone because somewhere in terms of character preparation, I find it easier to prepare characters that are distinct and are particularly located in a certain sociological, geographical or linguistic context. I have a method to prepare for them.”
“But with a character that is close to me culturally–like that of Sakshi in Veere Di Wedding, who is an urban woman, who is working, is English speaking and belongs to a nuclear family, then I am like how should I prepare for it as it seems so familiar. Hence, I was kind thrown off with this film and that is probably why I wanted to do this role.”
Divulging more details about her role of a woman who is seeking divorce in this Sonam, Kareena and Shikha Talsania starrer, Swara added, “I was offered Shikha’s (Mira) role initially when Rhea offered me the film. But then I just finished working on Tanu Weds Manu Returns where I have been carrying a baby in several shots so I was like I cannot go around carrying babies for another three months. To me, Sakshi seems like a fun character and it’s something I haven’t done, so I wanted to do that. It has been hard in every way, from losing weight to being glamorous. I even made a failed attempt at doing the pole dance. There are many firsts for me in this film and one of that is playing a rich brat.”
Veere Di Wedding comes with an insistence at not being a chick flick and is being promoted with the hashtag #imnotaCHICKflick. We asked Swara what’s wrong with calling the movie a chick flick and she replied, “I think chick flick is a weird category. Any film with a female lead is tagged as a female-centric film, have we ever called a film a male-centric or a dude flick. So if there is a story about women why do we need to label it? Also, I think the category is misleading. Veere Di Wedding is a story of four friends and their friendship and it can be watched by anyone and not just women.”
Be it feminism, women empowerment or nepotism, Swara has never held herself from expressing her opinions. And now when the cast of this all-women film is asked what women empowerment means to them, the question is rerouted to Swara. Unabashed in expressing her thoughts, Swara opined, “I think for me, empowerment is about choice and opportunity. You can only make a choice when you are given an opportunity to make a choice. In India and in other parts of the world, of course, we like to talk about it, but the social reality is very different. As far as the film is concerned, yes it is an empowering film for me because it is about choices. Like for Kareena’s character, it is her choice if she wants to get married or not, it is about a girl like Sonam who has the choice to do something rash and Shikha’s character has the choice to run away and get married.”
Swara also argued that a film for women, by women and about women need not necessarily be about the harsh realities of life. She says, “For me what is liberating about this film is that it is about four girls and nobody is getting raped, there is no violence, there is no injustice or there is no social message. I am not saying this in a derogatory way because I come from that kind of cinema and I am very proud of that cinema. But still, it is so liberating that you can have a film just about four girls and them having fun in life.”
At a time when most actors in Bollywood prefer to stay quiet to social media trolling, Swara is someone who gives it back to the trolls. “When you see something wrong happening at a bus stop or someone abusing or harassing a woman at a restaurant or in a shop, wouldn’t you stop them? I would. So similarly when I see something like this happening in the virtual public space I don’t think that is right. There should be certain decency in a public forum,” suggested Swara.
Adding to it, she said, “These trolls maybe paid but those who are reading it are not paid so sometimes it’s important to claim that space and let people know that Twitter is not only full of rapists, murderers or lynchers. There are people like us too who are willing to stand by each other. I have been at the receiving end of a lot of trolling and I know how good it feels when someone stands up for you. So I always want to stand up for myself and also for those who I think are attacked in an unfair manner.”
Swara’s upcoming film Veere Di Wedding releases on June 1.