A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water - Eleanor Roosevelt
That is precisely what Swara Bhaskar can be best described as. She is a successful Bollywood actress, having acted in movies like Tanu Weds Manu, Raanjhanaa, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, Nil Battey Sannata etc., raised eyebrows in roles that very many others would have shied away from, courted controversy with her tweets and so on and taking life in her stride like a ‘bindaas’ girl that she is.
Is all that she does merely to gain attention, to be in the spotlight? Surely not! Talent does not need cheap gimmicks to get noticed. And if some souls do tend to think that way about her, it surely would not matter to her.
Let us trace her interesting story
Born to Chitrapu Uday Bhaskar, a naval officer, and Ira Bhaskar, a professor of cinematic study, Swara was born and raised in Delhi. Schooling in Sardar Patel Vidyalaya , a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi, she completed her Masters in Sociology from the Jawaharlal University. Maybe she had an inclination towards the silver screen that she chose to enter the Hindi Film Industry or Bollywood.
Her Film Career
Debuting in Madholal Keep Walking in 2009 in a supporting role, she moved on to mainstream cinema in hit movies like Tanu Weds Manu in 2011 as a bride-to-be, another role in the movie Raanjhanaa that made audiences take note of her talent and further moved on to be in Tanu Weds Manu part 2 and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo; movies that grossed heavily at the box office.
Mainstream cinema might have seen her in supporting roles but then her acting prowess got acclaim and a Filmfare award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. But her talent shone in independent films like Nil BatteySannata where she being the female lead stole the critics’ heart and fetched her first Critics Award for the same in the Screen Awards Presentation.Her role in Anarkali of Aara (2017) got her a Critics Award nomination for the same.
Her many other roles in Bollywood Cinema have been liked and lauded over the years. She was in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzaarish and Srinivas Sunderrajan’sThe untitled Karthik Krishnan Project. Unfortunately both the movies did not do well at the box office and though Swara had done well, the movies did not get her kudos.
In2013 when she played the lead in Listen....Amaya, it got her noticed and acclaimed and also gave the audiences to watch Farooque Shaikh and Deepti Naval getting together after 28years. And when Raanjhanaa followed she played Bindiya in the supporting role to Dhanush and Sonam Kapoor that fetched her the second Filmfare Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
But it was Nil BatteySannata that fetched her Best Actress Award at the Silk Road International Film Festival in 2015. It was her fourth outing with Anand. L. Rai. Meanwhile she took to doing different things apart from the silver screen forays. There was a mini seriesSamvidhaan directed by ShyamBenegal aired on Rajya Sabha Television that was based on the making of the Indian constitution.
In Shashank Ghosh’s movie Veere Di Wedding essaying one of the lead roles along with Kareena Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor and Shikha Talsania she enacted a very bold scene that got her noticed the world over for the portrayal of women sexuality but got banned in Pakistan. She tweeted what could one expect from Pakistan that was a failing nation, a non-secular state and run by Sharia laws. That immediately got a negative response from the Pakistan establishment and other supporters of Pakistan.
A stint in Television too
Swara was anchor in two TV series as presenter in Samvidhaan: The Making of the Constitution of India and a role in Web series episodes of It’s Not That Simple on the Voot Channel.
But is that all about Swara Bhaskar? No, that was just an idea about her professional excellence and a standard that she has maintained in her acting.
Courting controversy - nothing new for her
Right from her college days Swara Bhaskar has been actively involved in social issues. But that also puts one at the risk of being spoken against, called names, trolled on social media, threatened and what not.
In December 2017, when she congratulated the pro-congress Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani for his success, she was trolled on social media for supporting caste politics, allegedly.
In 2018, she made critical comments on the film ‘Padmaavat’ (directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali) through an open letter in which she criticised the glorification of ‘Sati’ in the movie, as according to her, it denies the woman’s right to live.
But what about some of her recent exploits that put her in the eye of the public storm?
Who could imagine a Bollywood star becoming the target of innuendoes and threats in Twitter land? That is Swara Bhaskar for you.
Swara Bhaskar, 30, has faced horrific abuse online for breaking convention. Choosing to voice one’s thoughts on social media has its perils. Expressing her opinion on a range of topics from high-profile criminal trials to relations with Pakistan she has had many a back up against her.
Bhaskar is one of the lead players in Veere Di Wedding in its English version which in focusing on female friendship and pleasure, led to comparisons from reviewers and seeing a similarity with Sex and the City. So much so that it has been banned in Pakistan, “They say it’s because of the film’s vulgarity, language, and theme, that’s largely your character” is what she was told by the media to which she just retorted with “what do you expect from a state that’s run by sharia laws? They’re an unsecular state. I’m not surprised at all! Why should we hold up Pakistan, which is a failing state, as our…why should we take pleasure in all the silly things that happen in Pakistan? Apologies to all my Pakistani friends…” Though somebody from the Pakistan Cabinet remarked adversely to this, and she has presumed that she shall be receiving threats of rape and deathit has not curbed her need to voice her opinion fearlessly.
The first time she realized how terrifying internet trolls could be was in 2014, when she tweeted about the country’s general elections. While the nation was celebrating Modi’s 2014 election victory, considering that the nation had not held the earlier Gujarat riots against him, Swara had a pic. taken with a riot victim and tweeted about it.
Her outspokenness in a male dominated society has not gone down well with the people of both Pakistan and India. She routinely takes on haters, and re-tweets the funnier mean tweets about herself. But now it seems the Indian trolls have seen a way to hurt her.
Recently this year in February, when Bhaskar and her costars from Veere Di Wedding posed with placards to protest against the gang rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl, all four women were subjected to targeted harassment, Bhaskar the worst. Her original tweet with the placard was photoshopped to a large extent several times, the messages getting worse each time.
But for a tough customer like Swara Bhaskar, this comes as part and parcel of life and its vagaries, she continues as before by lending her voice to anything that strikes her as social injustice or something that clashes with her very strong views on various issues of social relevance.
Swara Bhaskar the celebrity – with her personal tastes
Of parents from different cultures but well-educated Swara has been the apple of everyone’s eye in her family. That is why she is the darling of her father, mother and brother who are there to support her in everything she does.
She celebrates her birthday in a low-key affair with her close family and friends circle from industry. Even after being a celebrity, she ensures that no grand bashes are organized for her birthday as she likes to celebrate in a simple and decent manner.
Doing yoga on a regular basis this dancer of Bharata Natyam from age seven that she learnt from Leela Sampson is fit and good looking despite being partial to food of different cuisines. Travel fiend that she is, she keeps making trips now and then to foreign shores. Love for pets, a fondness for reading books on various subjects, according to her if she were not an actress she would have been a teacher of history or anthropology.
On the filmy front though she is in a class of her own; she does have a fan feeling for Shahrukh Khan and actress Meryl Streep. There are some directors whose work she likes and she plans to be in some films directed by them in the near future. Incidentally she is on very good terms with actress Sonam Kapoor. One dream that she harbours is playing the role of Indira Gandhi in a film.
What Unnati Silks sees for this girl who seems so different
What we have noticed in her attitude and demeanour is her dressing sense. Though she looks good in whatever she wears, that ‘BharatiyaNaari’ look is universally acknowledged as one that gives satisfaction to any saree looking woman. Here are a few images to see what we mean about Swara.
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It is said “Fools dare where angels fear to tread”. In Swara’s case, she certainly is no fool despite taking on male-dominated Twitterati through her various comments on social issues of relevance that many a male sees as an affront or a challenge to manliness. But again she may look the angel but definitely does not restrict her comments to harmless issues that would not irk anybody that could make her one. But in all fairness despite what could be the reaction to what comment to hers has never deterred this lass from making her thoughts known about what she feels is right or wrong in the media.
Her talent and success hand in hand with her candor, has definitely made her known to the Indian at large – that She’s Different.