Swara Bhaskar shares how she was floored by ‘Samvidhaan’, which she originally thought would be a boring proposition

Swara Bhaskar steers clear of staid, politically correct quotes. While talking about how she bagged the ‘sutradhar’ part for Shyam Benegal’s mini television series Samvidhaan, she says, “Writer Atul Tiwari called and said he wanted to meet me for a project with Shyam Bengal.

I was so excited that instead of waiting for my appointment, I landed up at his residence at night. I was expecting to be offered a film. When I was told it was a television series on Indian Constitution, I thought ‘huh, how boring!’ though I was a student of history.”

Later, when the first episode of the docu-drama was read out, she recalls being hooked. “The series is based on the Constituent Assembly debates between 1946 and 1949 and I couldn’t believe that more than 20,000 pages of debate could be turned into an engaging docu-drama,” says Swara.

The narrator’s part, she says, didn’t come easily. Besides Benegal, she had to be approved by the producers at Rajya Sabha TV. “By the time I went to Delhi to meet the channel’s CEO, I had read the lengthy script, not only my part but also that of the others, and I was too eager to be on board and pitched for my role,” she laughs.The dramatised versions of the Parliamentary debate, involving actors like Rajit Kapoor, Ila Arun, Dalip Tahil, Divya Dutta, Sachin Kedekar, Rajeshwari Sachdev, Tom Alter and Neeraj Kabi were shot in Mumbai and Swara’s anchoring portions were shot in the Parliament. “We had 15 days to shoot and no time to waste. I rehearsed many times with Atul Tiwari and Shyam Benegal ahead of the schedule.

I’d be speaking lengthy lines in shudh Hindi and Urdu from 9.30a.m. to 5 p.m. and at the end of the day I’d feel jumbled like noodles! But seriously speaking, I did a lot of reading up and became more aware of our society. I was able to understand political debates referring to the Constitutional framework,” she explains.

Of late Swara has been happy bagging awards for her performance in Raanjhanaa. “Normally when a film does well, appreciation comes along.

This time, I witnessed an outpouring of love and empathy for my role. I wanted to hold on to those moments and not make my next move in haste. I was ready to look at new offers only eight months after Raanjhanaa’s release,” she says.

Abbas Tyrewala’s Mango and Ayesha Saxena’s Machhli Jal ki Rani were signed earlier. Swara is also part of X-The Film by a conglomerate of 11 directors.

“My segment was directed by Tamil director Nalan Kumaraswamy. We shot for four days at Koovathur near Chennai. I was impressed by the professionalism on the sets, uncommon while shooting such short segments,” she says.

The principal characters

Samvidhaan is a 10-part series (aired on Rajya Sabha TV on Sundays, 10.30 a.m.) written by Atul Tiwari and Shama Zaidi, directed by Shyam Benegal and produced by Rajya Sabha television. The series stars Ila Arun as Hansa Mehta, Sachin Khedekar as B.R. Ambedkar, Utkarsh Majumdar as Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Dalip Tahil as Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and Neeraj Kabi as Mahatma Gandhi.