Actor Swara Bhaskar comes from Delhi but she has a strong connect with the state capital. “The first time I had chowmein as a child it was in Lucknow. I am probably one of those few idiots who got lost in Bhool Bhuliya. And yes, I am also dating Himanshu Sharma who is from Lucknow and is a screen writer (Tanu Weds Manu),” she says in conversation with Hindustan Times senior resident editor Sunita Aron during CII Young Indians, Lucknow Chapter’s annual session on Saturday.
She has shot for Tanu Weds Manu and its sequel, Ranjaanha, Nil Batey Sannata and her forthcoming film Anarkali of Arrah in the state. “I have a deep connection with UP. My nani’s family is from Faizabad and now settled in Banaras. I always say UP and Bihar have played an integral part in my career as my most memorable roles and hit films are either shot or based here. My next film Anarkali…is based in Arrah, Bihar but we could not shoot it there so we shot in Amroha as the state has become very shoot-friendly,” she said.
Swara will be seen as a street singer in her next film. “It is going to be one of the most special films for me. I have worked very hard on it as an actor. Emotionally, I have been most attached to the script and role as it’s too close to me,” says the savvy lady. And what’s her take on the racy and double-meaning songs in her upcoming flick, to which the actor replies, “She (Anarkali) sings songs which can at best be called lewd in a civil society. Avinashji (Das, director) discovered them on YouTube and I went to Arrah to meet these singers. When I read translations of these songs even I was shocked as to how could women sing them.
In the movie, the twist comes when Anarkali is molested by a powerful kadradan and a series of events take place, which ultimately highlight the fault lines in the society covering harassment, power struggle, double standards and so on.”
“I agree that there are often many sub-standard content and songs, which on the flip side have been most liked and downloaded. As an artiste, I don’t believe in censorship and banning but you can regulate sub-standard sexual content. I think more than lyrics and sexuality, violence should be rationed,” she says. Swara gives example of Yo Yo Honey Singh’s objectionable song that came during Nirbhaya gang-rape which should have been banned.
Prejudices in society
The actor adds that her film addresses many prejudices prevalent in the society. “People think if someone is a street singer, wears her sexuality on her sleeves, is independent and outspoken then she is ‘available’ and one can do anything with her. It also attacks the prevalent mindset that if someone will dance and titillate on stage then people will clap. However, the moment she steps down, the very same people won’t spare a second to comment and condemn her. We are touching multiple issues (in the film),” the actor says and adds further, “Anarkali badchalan hai…so? She has slept with multiple men…so? There is no hypocrisy in the film.” She adds that not just in Bollywood there are prejudices in all industries. “We are a sexist society and that reflects everywhere and even in film industry. It is good people are now talking about it.”
Feudal film industry
“Bollywood is a feudal industry which works on relationships but you can negotiate with it. It has dynastic element and that’s why star kids have special launch and lead in the race, which a normal person cannot compete with. So, it has a certain power structure in place but which industry doesn’t? However, I don’t think there is nepotism in Bollywood. Today the industry has changed and I am an example of this…so is Nawazuddin (Siddiqui) and Irrfan,” she says candidly.
Inspiration and aspiration
“I am ’90s ka baccha. Exce-pt Krishi Darshan, I used to watch everything on Doordar-shan and what fascinated me most was Chitrahaar. I wanted to do that but then I forgot about it. After studies, my secret desire resurfaced I decided to take a chance and fail than live with guilt all my life,” she says.
As a kid she aspired to have her posters on the back of autos now she aspires to build a body of work that could be remembered for generation.
The lass candidly admitted that she wanted to work with Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor, Rani Mukha-rjee and Madhuri Dixit.
On casting couch she says, “I don’t know about it as I have not been on it. However, it does exist and actors get strange people in life who explore possibilities but then it’s upon individuals to negotiate.” She narrates an incident which ended on a note, “I can act…work hard...learn more…but can’t have sex! The meeting ended.”