Swara Bhaskar’s choice of roles has been unconventional, yet the actress has carved a niche of her own with films such as Ranjhanaa, Tanu Weds Manu, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and Nil Battey Sannata. Just a few years old in the industry, she is brash and makes no bones about her views. And right now she is excited about her forthcoming movie Anarkali of Arrah.
“I am still waiting for my dream role. As an actor, I am always hungry and I have been lucky to have got roles like Ranjhanaa and Nil Battey Sannata. I started my career with Madholal Keep Walking, followed by Tanu Weds Manu, Ranjhanaa, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and Nil Battey Sannata. I have been fortunate to have worked with the best directors, from Anand L Rai, Sooraj Barjatya and Shyam Benegal. I had no contacts in the industry. I came looking for work with the references from spot dadas and make-up dadas. I am like the tortoise from the hare and tortoise story. I refused a lot of films. But I am not ashamed of my work. I am not ashamed of asking for work or food. I don’t approach people who I know well for work,” says Swara.
About Anarkali Of Arrah, she says she was not offered the film in the beginning. “Avinash Das, writer and director of the film, was a journalist and met me at a party. He narrated it to me. He said he had met a singer Tarabano Faizabadi and was inspired by her life. Almost a year later, he sent me a screenplay and asked me to comment on it and pitch it to some actresses. I read more than 20 drafts of the script,” she says.
The film is bold in content and songs and dances. Swara says she was aware of what she was heading for. “I told them that it’s a bold world, and if we don’t show the whole truth, we wouldn’t do justice to the people concerned. But we didn’t want it to be too sleazy.”
About her role as Anarkali of Arra, Swara says, “The film is based on a few performers who still exist in Uttar Pradesh today. Anarkali is a performer and a modern version of a tawaif.” She travelled to Bihar to research for her role. “I visited a market in Gopalganj where a lane consisting of orchestra parties exists even today. I met a singer called Munni. I took interviews and watched their dance shows. I ate paan and smoked a bidi for the first time.”
Swara is also looking forward to her next film Veere Di Wedding with Sonam Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor and Shikha Talsania. “This is a girl bonding film and we have done two readings. I am looking forward to working with Kareena for the first time. I have worked with Sonam. In Ranjhanaa and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, my character hated her, but fortunately we will be friends in Veere Di Wedding. She watched Anarkali of Arra and cried for 10 minutes.”
Swara is anchoring a TV serial called Rangoli. “The show gives me creative satisfaction because it is a conversational medium. Rangoli audience don’t watch my films. A boy from Texas asked me to send him DVDs of my films. I sent him Nil Battey Sannata.”
On the situation in JNU, Swara says, “I have been a student of Delhi University and JNU. They have the best teachers. We used to do a lot of research. ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) has a bad history, they create disturbance all the time. They love to spread hatred,” she rattles off.