Swara Bhaskar is one those actors who are still underrated in the industry even after giving phenomenal performances in numerous movies. In her latest flick, ‘Anarkaali of Aarah’, Swara is playing a victim of sexual abuse and violence, who finally takes revenge.
The movie is the reflection of the society we live in and unveils the evils of the society we as women are afraid of. While interacting with the media recently, Swara talked about the problems that still prevails in the society, explained her idea of feminism and also made some shocking revelations about her life and experiences.
On asking Swara, if she has ever been sexually abused, she revealed,
You tell me who hasn’t been? It is somehow a rite of passage for a passenger in India to be molested. People actually chat about the first time they were molested. Usually, all girls have faced molestation by the time they are around 14-15. That’s how dangerous our society is.
I don’t believe you can grow up in any part of the world, and especially in India, without ever being molested by a man. It is not possible. I have been molested. Interestingly, I have been molested and eve-teased in Mumbai as much as I have had to deal with it in Delhi.
The biggest challenge for a woman in a society where you have to be ashamed for what has happened to you, is to fight your impulse. I have done that, I have fought my impulses to make myself react.
I have been groped during Prem Ratan Dhan Payo when we landed at Rajkot. I was travelling with Salman Sir and nobody realised, but there were around 2,000 people at the airport to see him. Despite the fact there was security, people got in and it was Anupam Kher who made sure I got into the car.It was crazy.
As a female artiste, you know the feeling of being vulnerable in front of a crowd, which is why I connected with my character Anaarkali. You know that when we were shooting the Holi scene in Ranjhanaa, the production has put five boys from the AD team around us in that get-up, to protect us from the rest of the crowd.
The actress spilled the beans and shared about the times she has beaten guys because of eve-teasing and sexually abusing her.
Yes, lots of times! The first time, I slapped a guy for pinching me in Old Delhi. There used to be a Sunday book bazaar there, so I caught hold of the guy. These people don’t expect women to react which is why it’s all the more important for women to react. Because the whole mentality of a molester, groper and an eve-teaser is the anonymity and the confidence that the girl won’t react.
The moment you instill that fear in their head that the girl may react and she can beat the s**t out of them, they tend to stay away. I have hit people in Delhi, Chennai and sometimes, I have chased people.
I have beaten someone with my umbrella in Mumbai. I was in a train alone — this was my first year in Mumbai — going somewhere to collect a cheque. I was in the first-class compartment and it was in the late afternoon so it was empty. A drug addict got in and when I turned around, I see this man masturbating. For one second, I was scared. It took me a second to realise what was going on, I started yelling at him, and beating him with the umbrella. I tried to catch hold of his collar because I knew the moment the train stops, he will run. I knew I can get him to the police if I hold him back. But the moment the train slowed down, he realised I was holding him to get him to the police, and he jumped off from the other end of the compartment.
Talking further about the fear of victim shaming that females have in their head, Swara said,
Absolutely! Frankly, Indian women inherit this collective cultural unconscious — this sense of guilt, shame and dishonour. What do we teach our girl child today? We teach them to be guilty of their own desires, if they shop for themselves it’s wrong. But spend on your husband, your kids, be obedient and think about everybody else’s good except yours. I remember for the longest time, especially when I was growing up, the first time I kissed a guy, I felt ashamed. I felt I did something very wrong and imagine, I was 18 years old then. It wasn’t that I was too young as well. I think Indian girls need to become shameless and a little selfish too. It’s not about individuals, it’s about girls in general. We need to lose that burden of guilt and that ‘haww’ feeling. That is the stupidest feeling ever.
Swara Bhaskar talked about her family and the house she has grown. While talking about feminism, Swara made a strong point by saying,
Feminism believes that men and women should be free of gender constraints. Their sex should not determine what their aspirations, personalities or their opportunities are in life. So, a woman shouldn’t always be pressured to be a woman, a man also shouldn’t constantly be asked to ‘Be a man’.
Feminism is equally fighting for men — to be free of masculinity. If there’s a pressure of patriarchy on women, there’s also a huge pressure that patriarchy puts on men — to be manly, masculine in a certain way.
Calling herself a feminist, Swara cleared the myths that come along with this term,
Yes, I am a feminist. I’m a balanced person, I don’t want special rights for women. And I know a lot of people call out feminists for fake dowry cases. But all I will say is a truly feminist person will never ever file a fake dowry case. There can be nothing more damaging for feminism than to misuse laws that are meant to protect women.
Swara’s interview reflects the strong personality that this woman has. We need women like Swara to fight the evils that are still prevailing in this society.
You can read Swara’s entire interview here. Do you agree with Swara Bhaskar’s opinions and thoughts? Do share your views about her interview in the comments section below.