Swastika Mukherjee says she feels like a struggler every time she is in Mumbai. The actress, who keeps shuttling between Kolkata and Mumbai (her boyfriend-director Suman Mukhopadhyay is based in Mumbai), laughs while recalling her Mumbai experience. “Whenever I land at the Kolkata airport, I feel like a star. Things change when I land in Mumbai. I wait for people to get back to me in there... something which I haven’t done in a long time in Kolkata. I am starting from scratch in Mumbai and feel like a struggler. But I am enjoying this phase too... it’s exciting,” she says.
The actress, who was appreciated for her portrayal of Anguri Devi in Dibakar Banerjee’s Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015), sounds optimistic about making it big in Bollywood. “Everybody has watched Dibakar’s film in Bollywood, so it has made my job easier. I am in talks with a few production houses, but in Bollywood no director makes five films in a year. So, it’s a long process. Since Suman is also doing theatre in Mumbai, he is helping me out with the contacts,” smiles the Bye Bye Bangkok actress.
Swastika believes that good work speaks for itself and will reach the right people irrespective of the film’s language.
Known to be choosy, Swastika will be seen playing a housewife, Jaya, in filmmaker Pratim D Gupta’s Shaheb Bibi Golaam. She says she didn’t have to do any research for the role as she is portraying a housewife and the things which happen in most homes every day. “Jaya or Bibi is not alien to me. Compromise is synonymous with most middle-class housewives. Initially, they think about the well-being of their parents, after marriage their in-laws and husbands. Later, she lives her life caring for her children. They don’t have anything to claim their own. If a housewife shows the courage and breaks free, she is then called selfish,” says the Bhooter Bhabishyat actor who believes most housewives have a “thankless job”.
She draws the reference of Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House, where the protagonist Nora leaves her children and husband because she wanted to discover her real self. “Recently, I played Nora in Suman’s play in Mumbai. Nothing much has changed in our society since the time the play was premiered in 1879. Till today, we blame a woman when she leaves her in-laws, husband and kids,” says Swastika.
Watch: Tomar Ki Naam from Shaheb Bibi Golaam
Known for her feisty nature and someone who doesn’t hesitate speaking her mind, Swastika raises question like why women cannot speak openly about their sexual desires. “How often do we hear that a man has agreed to have sex because the woman wanted it? It’s always the man who decides when he wants to have sex,” says the actress.
Though Jaya is one of her favourite characters so far, she admits she was anxious when the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) denied certification to the film. “At one time, we thought we will have to release the film without the character of Bibi,” smiles the Kranti actress.
Swastika has shown the song, Tomar Ki Naam, where she is lap dancing, to her father-actor Santu Mukherjee. “He liked the song and thought the film will strike a chord with the audience,” says the actress, whose earlier films such as Take One, Aami Aar Amar Girlfriends and Family Album, have faced problems from CBFC too.