Actor Swara Bhaskar talks about Raanjhanaa and finding her feet in cinema

“Mumbai can be a lonely city; it can make you feel alienated,” says Swara Bhaskar. She moved to Mumbai from Delhi, bag and baggage, about five years ago with dreams in her eyes. Filmi and dramatic it may have seemed then, but Swara managed to get noticed. “During the first three years I had monetary support from my parents and I am not ashamed to admit it. Because of their help, I didn’t resort to doing mediocre work to make ends meet,” she adds.

Swara’s choices, so far, have been varied — mainstream films such as Tanu Weds Manu, Aurangzeb and Raanjhanaa, niche projects such as The Untitled Karthik Krishnan Project, Madholal Keep Walking and Listen Amaya. “Films are forever. My mother (Ira Bhaskar) is a professor of film studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and I’ve seen her digging out films of the silent era, 40s and 50s and analysing them. A hundred years later if a film student were to stumble upon my work, I hope he/she feels I’ve been part of good films. I want to have a body of work that I’d be proud of years later,” she smiles.

The small role of Payal in Tanu Weds Manu was her ticket to fame. By a stroke of luck, or destiny, she found herself in director Anand L. Rai’s Raanjhanaa as well. She came on board much later than the other actors. “When I read a script, I read my role first. I play a crazy, lively girl called Bindiya. I fell in love with this girl. When we were shooting, I told Anand this part was written for me. I believe in destiny. Films and roles written for you will somehow reach you,” she says.

Swara’s father hails from the Godavari belt in AP and mother from Bihar. Her maternal grandmother hailed from Varanasi and in a way, Swara could connect with the city while shooting for Raanjhana. “Bindiya is a spirited Benarasi girl and through her, I could connect with the madness deep within me. I was so much in love with the character that on the last day of the dubbing, I broke down not wanting to part ways with this character. The sound engineer didn’t know what to do and gave me a chocolate to calm me down,” laughs Swara.

Later this year, Swara will be seen in Sabki Bajegi Band directed by Anirudhh Chawla and Machhli Jal Ki Rani Hai by Debaloy De. “I want to explore different genres and play characters of different age groups. I liked the energy with which Amitabh Bachchan played a 12-year-old in Paa and how Richa Chhada, so early in her career, aced it as an older woman in Gangs of Wasseypur 2,” says Swara.

While she will not hesitate to pick up niche films like Listen Amaya, Swara has nothing against mainstream cinema. “I was a Chitrahaar addict. So yes, I like commercial cinema. I am a greedy actor; I want tough roles that will exhaust me by the end of the day.” Are directors listening?

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