Swara Bhasker's decade-long journey in the Hindi film industry has seen her take on a variety of lead and supporting roles. 'An actor is an actor,' she maintains; it's all about getting roles that allow you to do your best.
Last Updated: 11.28 AM, Sep 09, 2022
Actress Swara Bhasker has been in the Hindi film industry for more than a decade, and fans have loved her for playing confident, strong, fiery and flamboyant characters on the big screen.
In fact, Swara herself has more than one favourite character. She loved playing roles like Bindiya in Raanjhanaa, Chanda in Nil Battey Sannata, Anarkali in Anaarkali of Aarah, Shanoo in Rasbhari and Beanie in Bhaag Beanie Bhaag.
"Now, Shivangi (from Jahaan Chaar Yaar) is added to my list of favourite characters. She is modelled on my nani (grandmother). I was very close to my nani. I lost her in 2017. My nani used to tell me stories about the days when she was a young bride. In a way, playing the character was a way to relive my nani's memory," says Swara.
Jahaan Chaar Yaar is directed by Kamal Pandey, who has worked on hit projects like Na Aana Iss Des Laado and Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster Returns. The new film, about four married friends who go to Goa for a fun trip, also stars Meher Vij, Pooja Chopra and Shikha Talsania.
"The protagonists are unusual for a story like this, so that way the film is something different and it is a clutter breaker. The other thing I really liked about the film is that it is written and directed by a man, who has penned the story with such sensitivity," says Swara.
"It didn't feel like a man had written the women characters. It felt like women were being represented in their own voice. It was very striking for me and very unusual," she adds.
For her, playing Shivangi was a very different experience. "My character doesn't even realise that she's been taken for a ride. She is very innocent. She is almost foolish. She is so naive that she is bordering on foolishness. She's very scared. Her whole life is about her husband and everything happens according to him. She doesn't do anything without asking him, so it was a very different character for me," she says.
Off-screen also, she is not used to taking permission from someone to do something.
"Of course you ask your parents or inform people around you, but it's not the same thing as taking permission. So for me, it was like 'can I even play a character like this? Will I be able to do justice to this role?' I think it was a chance for me to embrace a vulnerable side of myself," shares the actress.
Be it Nil Battey Sannata, Anaarkali of Aarah or Veere Di Wedding, the actress has featured in films that gave importance to women.
"It's not so much about women's stories. Any actor would pick roles that are substantial, that are meaty, will give them something to do and are written well," she says.
"Even if one chooses very selfishly, you end up choosing... because I am a woman, I am going to land up in films that tell the women's story, so I don't have to do anything extra. You just have to be greedy about your own work and be ambitious for yourself and be a little selfish about the kind of work you want to do. And you'll find yourselves in really good parts. I think that's what I have done," she says.
She points out the negative side of being choosy as well. "I don't do as much work as I perhaps should be doing. If you look at my body of work, I have only done 13 or 14 or 15 films and four or five or six web series. In a 10-year career, that's not necessarily that much. But it's all the work that I am proud of, so I have no complaints on that front," says Swara.
She feels that Jahaan Chaar Yaar will only add to this body of work. "It is something authentic, something that I can be proud of. It is a well made film with good intentions. It will make the audience remember me with love and affection... which is what every artist wants," she says.
Looking at her filmography, she has maintained a good balance between lead and supporting roles. According to her, an actor is an actor. "Of course when I started out, I got supporting roles. I was a new actor and I wanted to do the best work. I didn't want to wait to be launched by some big director. I knew I was not a star child, so that would never happen to me," the Jawaharlal Nehru University alumnus says.
Early in her career, she realised that she had to work hard to be in the industry, keep working and attracting people's attention to her talent and her work. And that's how she started doing supporting roles.
"I think I have been lucky that the supporting roles that I have got, were so well written. The films became blockbusters. Whether it is Payal in the Tanu Weds Manu series or Bindiya in Raanjhanaa or Chandrika in Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, they are all characters that people will remember and stand out in the film," she notes.
As for playing lead roles, she says, "Every actor wants to be either Romeo or Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, so of course now that I am in a place where people are offering me the title parts, it makes me feel grateful," says the actress, who will portray nine characters in her upcoming film Mrs Falani.
"If you look at my film credits, my journey has been from the bottom of the credit to the top credit. I am both grateful and proud," she says.
It's not just her relatable and confident characters that have won people's hearts, but also her personality.
It was just last month that she described herself in a tweet as "a strong, independent, self-reliant woman, and a survivor."
"Isn't that how people describe me? I am only saying what people say," says the actress, admitting that cockroaches and lizards terrify her.