Swara Bhasker on living in an office in initial days in Mumbai: ''No society was ready to rent a house to 2 girls'
Swara Bhasker reveals how she faced a tough time looking for a house in Mumbai during her early days in the city while she was trying to get into the film industry.
As theatres remain mostly shut through the coronavirus pandemic, Swara Bhasker had a successful stint on the OTT platform with release of one film and two web series on different streaming platforms. She has now kickstarted the new year with yet another web show, Aapke Kamrey Mein Koi Rahta Hai. The actor, however, is seen in a different avatar: as a ghost with cropped hair.
In an interview with Hindustan Times, Swara opened up about her latest project and how just like the storyline, she too faced trouble while looking for a house in Mumbai. She also shared a childhood memory about a paranormal experience. Excerpts:
You are back with a web show, Aapke Kamrey Mein Koi Rahta Hai. We haven’t seen you as a ghost before.
I haven’t seen myself like that either. It was a lovely role and all four actors became very good friends with me. It was such a fun shoot. I have played a possessed person before, in my horror film, Machhli Jal Ki Rani Hai, which was a typical Bollywood horror film.
The nice thing about this show is that the horror is still fun. It’s quirky and spooky but actually more fun. I really enjoyed it as it’s a look and a character I haven’t done before. It’s a very watchable, binge-worthy kind of content.
Watch: Swara Bhasker on new horror show, her own paranormal experience
Have you come across a ghost or have witnessed a paranormal incident in real life?
I am very scared of ghosts. When we were children, couple of my friends would stand across a board, light a candle and call a spirit. We would ask questions like ‘Which boy likes me? What will be the name of my first boyfriend?’ No spirit ever told us anything right. Once a spirit told us a bizarre story and wanted us to take revenge for it. We don’t know what spirit that was. That was really weird. It even gave us a phone number and we called on that number from a phone booth as we didn’t want to tell our parents about it. But that number was wrong and that ghost held no credibility for us.
Aapke Kamrey Mein Koi Rahta Hai is about four bachelors struggling to find a house in Mumbai. You also came to Mumbai from Delhi. Did you ever face housing troubles in the city?
Yes I did. I actually lived in an office of Anjum Rajabali sir, who is my mother’s friend and a celebrated screenwriter. Me and my roommate (Lopamudra Raut) lived in this office for a month-and-a-half as we couldn’t find a house. She was my college friend and came to Mumbai as she got a job. We had to leave the office before 9 am. We would have a bath and leave and go to the nearby mall and hang around on its stairs. I would leave for my audition and she (Lopamudra) would leave for her job from there. I saw every single release that month, good or bad, as I got to spend three hours in an air-conditioned theatre.
No society in Mumbai was ready to rent a house to two single girls, one of whom was trying to get into the film industry. They asked us, ‘Will you be meeting boys?’ We said ‘yes’. I even got into fights with a few landlords who were being very kattar (staunch). I started explaining to them our fundamental rights – Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. Our broker said, ‘Madam, if you want to do all this, go find a house somewhere else, I can’t help you’. We eventually found a house in a building which wasn’t a part of a society. It was a new construction and there were not a lot of occupants. That’s how I got my first house.
You have been playing a variety of roles ever since you entered the industry. Is there something you still have on your bucket list? Do you idolise anyone from Bollywood?
I have never done a historical and have not done a biopic yet, these are two things which are definitely on my mind. I am a big fan of Shah Rukh Khan, and also Shabana Azmi for the way she has weighed her career and stood up for so many causes. Anil Kapoor – he has invented himself constantly and is a very inspiring person. Rani Mukerji – for her talent and choice of roles and Divya Dutta – for her calibre as an actor. I also admire Vidya Balan a lot. Our industry is criticised so much but we have some really smart and talented people who are doing great things. One person I am extremely impressed by is SS Rajamouli. I just saw Baahubali, the imagination this person has is of another level.
You recently came out in support of Richa Chadha who got threat messages for her film Madam Chief Minister. Have you also received such threats for any of your film?
I am the one person who has never been silent. What’s happening to Bollywood now has happened to me for the last six years. I always feel that this kind of harassment online is another form of bullying and we should always stand for it. I feel very grateful when people support me and I always make sure that I stand up for friends and colleagues if they have been wrongly harassed.
You are always active on Twitter. How do you feel when you are not trolled for something or the other during the day?
I am shocked. I feel like ‘kaha gaye mere nafrati chintu?’ I am like ‘guys, are you ok, is everything alright at your home?’ I miss them if it doesn’t happen.
What is leading to the delay in Sheer Qorma?
It’s a great film and has lovely performances by Shabana and Divya ji. We missed our premiere in London at BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival due to the pandemic. I am guessing that it will be available on digital but the producers will be able to speak on the matter.
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