I never feared taking risks: Swara Bhaskar
The actor says breaking stereotypes is the best way to set her own rules for her acting career
From playing the heroine's best friend in Tanu Weds Manu to a middle-aged mother of a 15-year-old in Nil Battey Sannata, a prostitute in Anaarkali of Aarah to one of the leading ladies in the multi-starrer all-women buddy film Veere Di Wedding, Swara Bhaskar has explored characters that an image-conscious budding actor would fear to do. She says breaking stereotypes is the best way to set her own rules for her acting career.
"I never feared to take a risk. When I came to the film industry, since I had no idea of how to go about it, people gave me a lot of advice on what not to do. I was told not to play any character of a sister or best friend of the protagonist as then people would only offer me second lead. I was told not to play vamp and mother at a young age...I thought if those are the rules to get the lead role, why not break them? Why not get rid of stereotypes to set my own rules?" she says, adding, "I think the best way to deal with stereotypes is by taking a risk, by trying new things without fearing the failure."
What is her way to identify the potential of a script? Swara credits her collaborators. "I think I am lucky that I worked with some of the great filmmakers. When it comes to Tanu Weds Manu or Raanjhanaa, I would like to give the credit to Himanshu Sharma who wrote the script of the film. He is such a brilliant writer that any competent actor can just perform following the script and they will still look as brilliant as it was. In Nil Battey..., Ashwini Iyer Tiwari had huge faith in the story and I just followed her vision. I think that is how things work most of the time in cinema. If everyone has a strong vision and faith in the project, it falls in place," she says with a smile.
Her latest film Veere Di Wedding is not the first attempt for Bollywood to tell stories of multiple women, as Angry Indian Goddesses also captured the journey of six girls and received critical acclaim. But the latter failed to get as many eyeballs as Veere Di Wedding.
So, does that only happen when a film has a larger budget and is in the mainstream commercial space featuring female superstars? "Bollywood is a star-driven industry. Therefore it is only natural that a Priyanka Chopra telling the story of Mary Kom reaches thousands of people and becomes a Rs 100 crore film. So yes, whenever popular actors and celebrities narrate a story, it gets more mileage," she says, adding, "Having said that, the burden should not be on stars. At the end of the day, an actor is an actor -- star or non-star -- if the role is challenging, if the character is well-written, we all get excited to do it. Therefore, I think that there should be more interesting, unexplored and unheard stories that will bring freshness in storytelling, challenge us to push the envelope to perform and offer a new dose of entertainment to the audience."
As for the practice of treating film stars like demi-gods, that is going on for the longest time, Swara says it will take time to change. "We are actually in the process to change it now... Because now, like in the earlier days of 1950s, stories of common people are getting celebrated. See, there was a patch where the character of the films was more of youngsters going abroad to become a millionaire and stories on NRIs were the common theme. The idea of entertainment was mainly escapism, but this is changing now," says Swara.