For someone who has mostly played realistic characters on screen, Swara Bhaskar has taken everyone by surprise with her role in Shashanka Ghosh’s Veere Di Wedding. For the first time, the talented actress has gone all glamourous, not just in the film but also during its promotion.
The actress says that she is playing an ultra spoilt brat Sakshi, who is the daughter of a multi-billionaire and thinks her daddy’s credit card will solve all her problems. “There is a childlike, enduring quality about her and she is capable of lot of love. Even though she has class snobbery about her, she is not a malicious person, which was the hardest thing to do as an actor. Personally, I don’t have any kind of class snobbery about me; in fact, this is something that I find most disgusting,” she adds.
GOING GLAM AND BOLD
Compliment her on her stylish look and Swara can’t stop smiling. “All credit goes to Rhea Kapoor, who has styled me in the film. She wanted to take the character to another level, in terms of styling, which also helped unlock the kind of character Sakshi would be. Rhea has really used her imagination to be able to see me and my face beyond the roles I have done, which were always desi and real,” Swara says.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that she is playing a bold character on screen, but is it her boldest so far, considering her look and the language used in the film? “I don’t understand this term bold because as actors, we do what our roles demand. Anarkali (in Anaarkali of Aarah) was also a very brave character in that sense. I think it of also bold for a 27-year-old actor to play a mother to a 15-year-old (Nil Battey Sannata). I don’t consider the term bold in the context of sexuality, clothes or skin exposure. But having said that, I was very uncomfortable because I was very out of my comfort zone. I have never been part of a film where so much attention is on carrying off a certain kind of look or clothes. So that was pretty hard but as an actor, you have to keep moving out of your comfort zone.”
THE FEMINIST CHARACTERS
Veere Di Wedding isn’t the first strong female character that Swara has played. In Anaarkali of Aarah too she played a strong feminist character who stands for her rights and fights against the system. But both are quite diverse from each other. Which of the two defines feminism accurately, we ask and she replies, “Obviously it’s Anaarkali of Aarah because it dealt with an issue that’s very critical for the whole feminist movement which is consent on the ownership of your body, life and safety, no matter what your occupation is, and how the society perceives you. I think Anaarkali also told a very universal story of going beyond feminism and fighting for one’s rights. All in all, it’s a character you have never seen in Hindi cinema because she comes out of the silent sidelines and margins where girls like her do not come in large numbers.” She says that as a performer, Anaarkali’s story resonates with her a lot more.
“Of course, Sakshi is also struggling with a lot of things which other women face because she lives life on her own terms,” Swara adds.
Every person defines feminism in their own way, depending on where they come from, their ideologies and social stratum. “Feminism has been a movement for equality and equal opportunity in all walks of life. It’s a movement that has been recognised institutionally in law, religion, culture and politics. Feminism is fought for more equal rights, laws, spaces, and to correct the lack of opportunity that women suffer from,” Swara says, adding, “Feminism is not about fighting for the rights of women but also for the burden of masculinity on men. If a man likes to do embroidery, he should be given the right to become an embroidery artist or take up occupations like cooking or nursing. Feminism is a philosophy to empower people and not bind any gender.”
She says that when people say, ‘I am not a feminist’, she only asks them why?
The term feminism is misunderstood by many but Swara believes that millions of people do not make a movement or philosophy wrong. “You have to judge it for its own merits and achievements.”
THE CRITICISM OF ‘VEERE DI WEDDING’
While a section of the audience has loved the trailer and songs of Veere Di Wedding, some have criticised the film and the way feminism has been portrayed in the film. Reacting to such criticism, Swara says, “This is a case of misfit morality. For the longest time, the biggest criticism that Bollywood was facing was that their female characters are too good and pure, it’s a different kind of patriarchy. Now when we are finally creating characters who are weak, flawed and confused, they are calling it false empowerment. I am a feminist myself but nobody has said that it’s a film about feminism. It’s a film about empowerment because it’s about women who choose to live their life on their own terms. When we can grant our male characters to be flawed and confused, why not the female characters? Why do suddenly they have to be all pure and follow etiquettes, I don’t know.”
She says that no one is uncomfortable when a man abuses, so why is that the case with women? “I am a huge fan of Anurag Kahyap as a director but he is never asked why his men abuse because he is man. No one questioned when Anaarkali was swearing so much because of the environment she comes from but when mainstream actresses start to swear, our morality gets threatened. I find this whole debate hypocritical,” she says.
As a society, there is a lot going on here, Swara says. “When someone is being burnt to death and others are recording the incident or when you don’t feel enraged when an eight-year-old-girl is raped in a temple because she belongs to Muslim community, then I do not think anybody has the right to question others.”
WORKING WITH KAREENA AND SONAM
Veere Di Wedding also stars Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Shikha Talsania. It’s a known fact that Swara is good friends with Sonam and was also present for all the functions at the latter’s wedding. But this is her first film with Kareena. “Sonam is someone I really enjoy working with and is a great colleague to have. She is fun, secure and we have a great working relationship,” says the actress who has worked with Sonam in Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. She adds, “Kareena turned out to be such a wonderful experience, she was a great team player, no starry tantrums, very professional. Sikha is a great actress and we have become great friends while working together. I had a ball working in the film,” she says before signing off.