Swara Bhasker: I discovered why I ardently believe in non-violence
Actors Swara Bhasker and Akshay Oberoi talk about their web series Flesh and how it’s a call for action
The consistent supply of quality content on the digital space has firmly established OTTs on the entertainment spectrum. The recently launched Flesh, starring Swara Bhasker and Akshay Oberoi, is among them. It’s hit the jackpot with its hard-hitting depiction of human trafficking. “The fact that it exists at the level it does, is a sign of how complicit we are as a society in this evil practice. It’s modern-day slavery and is a reflection of our world and the nexus behind it,” says Swara Bhasker who plays the role of ACP Radha Nautiyal in Mumbai Police.
She plays a feisty cop who has little else in her life other than work. Swara is seen against Oberoi, who plays Taj, the kingpin of a human trafficking racket. The actor found his character to be nasty, mean and someone who doesn’t care about anybody but himself. He felt excited to personify him.
The series also marks Bhasker’s first appearance in an action-packed role. “My character is brash and a badass. She’s somebody who doesn’t mind bending the rules to nab a criminal. She’s often at odds with her seniors for this, but she is a good cop and she knows it,” says Bhasker, adding, “Radha has a zero-tolerance policy for criminals, especially offenders of the sex trafficking racket; and, like me, she is an insomniac.”
This is Oberoi’s second brush with a role that has shades of grey, his first one being the 2017 release, Gurgaon where he played Nikki Singh. “Taj is basically the villain I played previously on steroids. He’s probably the most ruthless, khoonkhar (ferocious) character I’ve ever played,” he says. He enjoyed playing a ‘baddy’, he shares. “There is limitless in scope with this as you can push the boundaries of badness. His character is the way he is because of the journey he’s been through, the kind of life he has led, the kind of things he has seen… he’s been through a lot and that reflects in his personality. It was interesting to explore the character’s dark side and emerge him within himself,” Oberoi says.
Needless to say, they both toiled to get into the skin of the people they were playing on the screen. Considering their roles were far apart from who Bhasker and Oberoi are as people, the learning curve was uphill. The action sequences prove to be particularly demanding for Bhasker, who says it was intimidating. “I also had to get used to the suspension cables for action sequences, being rigged and doing jumps. The stunts were scary.
There were also long chase sequences and I remember the first time we shot it, Danish Aslam (the director) said to me, ‘You run like a girl! I said I am a girl, and he responded—You’re a cop. Therefore, I started training with Abhishek Sharma, who has been an athlete and national level boxer on how to run like a policewoman,” she shares.
One of the most challenging aspects for her was handling the gun which she didn’t enjoy. “I discovered why I believe ardently in non-violence. Because I am so so scared of the guns,” she adds. There have been other projects like Mardaani that dealt with human trafficking but more such films need to drive the point home about the criminal practice.
“The fact that human trafficking exists at the level it does globally, is a sign of how complicit we are as a society in this evil practice,” says Swara Bhasker.