She is unabashed, unapologetic and extremely vocal. Bollywood actress Swara Bhasker is often known for making headlines not only for her acting prowess but also for her views and social media posts. The effervescent actress has carved a niche for herself in the entertainment industry, known for her roles in Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, Nil Battey Sannata, Anaarkali of Aarah and few more.
Swara will sway her fans in an all-new avatar as she gears up to pack few punches as she dons the hat of a fearless cop in Eros Now's upcoming series Flesh.
In an exclusive and free-wheeling conversation with IBTimes, Swara Bhasker spoke at length about her role in the show Flesh, shared her views on system and law, how her character is similar to Radha that she is essaying in the show, her take on content obsession that the audience has for box office numbers and why human trafficking is one of the most underrepresented issues in Bollywood.
Excerpts from the Interview:
On her role in the flesh
The show Flesh is centred around the world of human trafficking. I play the role of an ACP in Anti-human trafficking in the Mumbai police. She is fierce as she fights her own demons. It's a very complex character.
How similar/different Swara is from the role that she is essaying?
I don't know how real is my perception in the minds of the public. All I can say that the only similarity between me and my character is that both of us get angered by injustice. Other than that I am quite different from Radha (her onscreen name in Flesh). As I am not exposed to certain situations that she has been exposed to due to her work. She is very hard and has a sense of brittleness' that comes from the trauma that fortunately I didn't have to go through. I think that it's not necessary to have a similarity to your own personality, especially when you are an actor, as it gives you more scope as an actor to act more and you can do your job better. For every role that you play, you need to have one key to unlock the character.
Did you meet cops in real life to get into the grip of the role?
I met a lot of cops, both men and woman. I spoke to them on various topics related to in and around the world, be it about their love for work, beliefs, opinions so and so forth. One thing I found common in all the cops was that they have a palpable sense of frustration, they feel that they risk their lives to catch the criminals but the system is so manipulated, one call comes from jugaad, top heads and they have to let go of the criminal. Every cop had that frustration in them. I used that frustration as emotion and a motivating force to get into the skin of the character. Radha is not just struggling, she is frustrated with the system and law because her role as a cop not only gives her power but also binds her to a certain extent. The struggle that she has is not just catching hold of criminals but also battling the system and the judicial. All this and more makes her brash and somewhat a reckless cop.
How do you deal with social media negativity, trolls and online abuse?
Being in this industry what I know is that a lot of what is negative out there on social media is either sponsored or is agenda-driven. I have discovered that most of the trolling are bought. They are not even real users the users are bought, and that you shouldn't take on face value. When I stand up against a cause, there are people who oppose me and their ideologies don't match mine. We live in a polarized society where we need an excuse for trolling and to abuse. What I know is that awareness is essential, and that is what motivates me to not react. Also, I am aware of what goes behind the scenes. I know where it is coming it. I know everything. It has nothing to do with me. I represent a danger to them and that's why they are doing it. I really feel that for me my work is important, my career is important. My focus is on that, how do I get better, most of the time when there is a trend that is happening. I am not even aware as I am busy learning about new courses that I should be doing to enhance my performance as an actor.
Apart from human trafficking, what are the other socially relevant issues that you think Bollywood should cater to?
There are so many issues in the world, and I am glad that we are gearing into issue-based content. And it's great that art is changing. The reason why Flesh is special is that it talks about human trafficking which is one of the most underrepresented issues. Despite being so dark and grave, I don't think apart from the films like Mardani and Love Soniya which wasn't even a Bollywood film, it was released at film festivals and in Hollywood. We have had films and content that looks at prostitution, we never had a film that looked at human trafficking in an in-depth manner the way Flesh has shown.
OTT vs theatre
OTT is a new distribution platform and the expansion of digital content amidst the pandemic is great and welcoming, there are so many content-driven shows and film that we are seeing these days. I don't understand the obsession that people have with box office numbers, why are we concerned about the box office numbers. The numbers are for producers, finances, investors and not for the actors and audience to look into it. A work is a piece of art that you watch on screen get entertained and enjoy, how does box office number bother you?
I remember watching Pankaj Tripathi's interview where he said, why are audience running towards the box office. I also feel that why this discussion over box office number is the audience getting any part of the box office. Hume kya lena dena hai box office se. OTT is unbiased and is not dependent on views and, it is free of pressures of the box office, you like the content you that's about it. That is what the purpose of art should be and OTT is a great place for word of mouth, and it is the t's the most organic way to reach to maximum audience.
Genre as a viewers audience like to watch
I watch a lot of documentaries. Also, I simply binge watch love stories, family dramas and comedy films. I love well-made historical film and not propaganda.
Take away from the show Flesh and your role
I realized that I can't fire a gun, I am scared of holding a gun and I hate the idea of violence. And the second one is actually a sad realisation about the world of human trafficking that how widespread, and hideous it is. It is damming to know that there is a huge involvement of civil society to the contribution of human trafficking. It's sad to know that human beings and children are being sold for profit-making
For the unversed, Flesh talks about the dark world of human trafficking and gives a murky insight into the world of crime. The gritty series is written Pooja Ladha Surti, created by Siddharth Anand and is directed by Danish Aslam. Apart from Swara Bhasker the show also features Akshay Oberoi in a pivotal role.