Swara Bhasker: Sought a different role from one I was offered


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In 2018, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonam K Ahuja, Shikha Talsania and Swara Bhasker headlined `Veere Di Wedding`, Bollywood’s first mainstream film about female friendship. Four years on, Bhasker and Talsania — along with Meher Vij and Pooja Chopra — are fronting another buddy comedy. In `Jahaan Chaar Yaar`, four middle-class women break free from the shackles of responsibility thrust on them by their families, and go on a trip to Goa. When we get on a call with Bhasker, our first question is whether the story felt repetitive in some ways. “If I am being uncompromising as an artiste, I naturally find myself in women-led stories. That’s what happened with this film. I chose it even though it felt slightly close to Veere. Road trip and friendship films have been a male bastion. We have not seen four married women on a road trip,” she begins.&

A still from Jahaan Chaar Yaar

When writer-director Kamal Pandey approached her with the film, the actor was surprised to see that a man had captured trapped women’s psyche so honestly. “The writer has an in-depth knowledge of women coming from this social class. It was insightful to see how he represents their desires and disappointments.”

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As much as the story was a big draw, Bhasker reveals that she did seek a tweak of sorts. “I asked for a different role from the one I was offered,” she says, adding that she actively wanted to play a part that was different from her off-screen image. “Shivangi [her character] is a scared cat. She is a homemaker who has been gaslit by her family into becoming a glorified servant in her house. Most of my characters are strong, confident, and flamboyant. I have a certain Twitter image as well, but as an actor, I can’t continue the same image. I wasn’t even sure if I could pull it off.”

At a time when many mainstream potboilers have been critiqued for their depiction of women, Bhasker asserts that a women-led story is crucial. “As a society, we are more toxic than ever before. Look at the way the mainstream media went after Rhea [Chakraborty] after Sushant’s [Singh Rajput] death. Fetishised violence and toxic masculinity are popular. [Women] being slapped on screen in the name of love is bulls**t. That’s why it’s important that women with agency say emphatically that they don’t like [such behaviour].”

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