Actor Swara Bhaskar tells that acting is irresistible for her. It is as uncontrollable as falling in love with the wrong man
Theatre person-turned-actor Swara Bhaskar, who was recently seen as a supporting actor, in the Dhanush-Sonam Kapoor starrer Raanjhanaa, says she is not a trained actor.
“I am a trained Bharatanatya dancer. My training began when I was a seven-year-old with Leela Samson till she moved to Chennai. At that point I entered theatre.”
Swara then started working with the JNU’s Indian Peoples Theatre Association as well as N.K. Sharma’s Act One. “I did mainly street and protest theatre. I was quite a wayward figure who grew as an actor only before the camera. But I was always a dramebaaz. My father used to call me Isadora Duncan when I was a child because I loved performing. I feel that I was meant to be her. I can’t imagine doing anything else,” says Swara, who was in the city for her first ramp walk as a showstopper for Moushami Badra at the Bangalore Fashion Week. “Both Bollywood and fashion are in a sense, glamour industries.”
Swara has acted in films such as Listen Amaya and Aurangzeb, apart from Tanu Weds Manu, for which she was nominated for the role of Best Supporting Actor. “After I finished my masters in sociology I realised that I had started dreaming of Bollywood — being on a shoot, appearing on the silver screen and all of that. And I knew that an actress has a limited window, a smaller time frame for a career in films, especially as a lead actor. I also knew that I’d never be young again, so I packed my bags and moved to Mumbai in three weeks.”
That’s where she shot for her first film, Niyati which never s which never saw the light of the day. “The film industry in Mumbai is like a spider-web, it is a network of connections. It was through Niyati that I got my next few films Madhola Keep Walking and later Tanu Weds Manu. In my experience, films which are meant for you find you. You cannot avoid them.”
However, Swara is careful about choosing films. “I have been careful in my choice in terms of what I put my face to. I read through the script very carefully because I’m consciously trying to build a credible, memorable body of work. I’m a greedy actor and want meaty roles, which leave me exhausted. I think I have been lucky so far, in that even my smaller roles have been intensely performance oriented.”
Though her mother is a professor of cinema studies at JNU, passion for cinema doesn’t merely run in Swara’s blood, it’s her personal choice as well.
“A week after I moved to Mumbai, I was introduced to Naseeruddin Shah and he asked me why I wanted to act. I am interested, I admitted simply. ‘You have to ask yourself if you will be able to live if you don’t act’, he said. At that time I thought it was melodramatic, but now after more than three years in the industry, I appreciate what he said,” says Swara.
“Bollywood is an insecure, uncertain industry, it’s a gamble. There’s so much that you can’t control. I think the most talented actors are the ones that you haven’t seen yet. We must be mad to do this at the best time of our lives. But for me, acting is like falling in love with the wrong man, something you can’t help.”
Swara now has two films up for release, Abbas Tyrewala’s Mango and Machhli Jal Ki Rani Hai by Debaloy De.
“Mango is a light film and it’s a myth that lighter roles are easy to play. The latter is a horror film. I like all kinds of roles, especially those that will generate a response from the audience.”
Swara’s dream is to leave behind a satisfying body of work. “I want to be remembered by the films I worked with and the roles I played.” And it doesn’t bother her in the least that she’s not from a filmi background. “Actors with familial connections to Bollywood may get a big launch, but it doesn’t bother me. I think I have worked my way up. It took me three films for me to build credibility among critics and audience and I hope to sustain the good reviews. I can’t afford to slacken my performances. And I feel blessed to have been born to my parents, because I bring who I am to my roles and talent will never go unnoticed, however small the role is. I am in a good place right now.”