‘Women Should Feel Complete Within Themselves Without Seeking For Validation’ Says Actress Swastika Mukherjee

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By Roy

‘Dil Bechara’ has won millions of hearts worldwide. The film not only took us to closer to our hero Sushant Singh Rajput, but the characters played by Sanjana Sanghi, Swastika Mukherjee, Shashwat Chatterjee, and Sahil Vaid deeply touched our lives. So here’s what actress Swastika Mukherjee has to say in an exclusive conversation with us.

‘Dil Bechara’ is Swastika’s second film with Sushant. Earlier, she has starred as ‘Anguri Devi’ in ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!’

Talking about both her roles, she tells us about different challenges, “Playing Anguri Devi in ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!’ was more difficult because it was a very challenging role. I was very focused to pull of this character. Since it was Sushant’s third film, he was also in a different mind space as this particular Bengali character was different from other usual films. In Bengal there has been so many films on detective Byomkesh Bakshi. Even I have acted in five films based on him. So things were quite more serious with ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!’ as it was a period film. It was a lot of learning, hardwork and stress getting into the skin of the character for Sushant as well as me.

However, ‘Dil Bechara’ being based on a different storyline, Swastika says that she experienced a different emotion altogether. “In ‘Dil Bechara’, I have played a simpler character and a simpler role to portray. Since my co-actor Saswata Chatterjee is also from Bengal, I was more comfortable in portraying the role with him. My bonding with Sanjana happened quite fast which made me more comfortable throughout the film. There were lighter scenes that we really enjoyed more in doing. We chatted a lot, discussed work, characters and scenes, had lots of fun on the sets.

‘Dil Bechara’ is an emotionally heavy film. We really learnt and enjoyed throughout the making of the movie. I have more happy moments with Sushant on the sets of Dil Bechara rather than ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!'”, she adds further.

Post the tragic incident, Sushant left many unanswered questions along with his legacy. However, his co-actors, friends and people from film fraternity are being questioned time and again about it. “The constant questioning about someone’s unfortunate demise is going to hit you mentally. Even it is not possible for the co-actors to answer well when questioned about such. Because as co-actors it is difficult for us to answer borderline personal questions about him because I wasn’t best of friends with Sushant. It is not possible for me to know, understand, and answer. And I think everybody is on the same page right here because no one knows what happened. So whatever we are saying or writing are based on assumptions. So I don’t think it is right to state anything firmly which is based on assumptions,” Swastika opines.

She also says that how right after Sushant’s death everybody have become a psychiatrist and so. “People have come up with multiple suggestions, and almost with counselling classes on Facebook. Social media is wrongly used in this way. Given the pandemic people are so jobless that they are doing everyone else’s job.”

When asked about her favourite shooting location of ‘Dil Bechara’, Swastika chose Jamshedpur instead of Paris.
“I enjoyed shooting in Jamshedpur more. Because it was really very cold in Paris. I am a person who cannot bear winters of Kolkata even. And we went to shoot in Paris in January which is the peak time of winters and a lots of works had to be done in less time limit. I got a tourist vibe there which I liked. And back in Jamshedpur, we stayed there for almost a month and it was really pleasant shooting there. We stayed in one hotel, used to have food together. It felt like a family living there forever.”

Swastika believes that it is very necessary for an actor to keep experimenting with different shades of different characters.
“When I talk about scripts, it is always about what I can contribute and whether I can make a mark as an actor. I don’t want to feel as an actor, and saying so I also don’t want to play safe.
Imagine shaving your head being the heroine of a film. I have always taken up challenges in my career. I have played characters double of my age. I want play or portray as many varied characters as possible. Its very important for me that I get my stage to perform and to contribute. I don’t want to be there for the heck of being there. I play the role as raw and real as possible.”

“As an actor I believe that we give so much to our characters to make it alive on screens, it also gives us back some good things that stay with us forever,” she says.

Swastika has also played the character of ‘Dolly Mehra’ in most talked about web series of the year ‘Paatal Lok’. She plays the wife of an acclaimed news anchor, in which she is seen to be dealing with her anxiety issues and insecurities. She says, “The role of ‘Dolly Mehra’ was a difficult one to portray as the character doesn’t have much time and space to project her graph. In a short span of time she has to play through her strengths and weaknesses.
I think vulnerability makes us real. As human beings we are said to live our lives strong constantly. Its not always the strength but the vulnerability that sails us through. Playing strong characters is difficult, but playing weak and vulnerable characters are way more difficult. Dolly’s character learns to stand up for herself. She feels that she is enough for herself. As women, it is very important for us to feel that we are enough for ourselves without seeking validation from others. Taking care of everything, we somehow forget ourselves. We get filled with insecurities about our bodies and minds constantly and fight battles to be happy in our lives. Dolly Mehra’s character is a portrayal of all that. Her world revolves around her husband, their marital life is complicated, they have fallen out of love, her insecurities, her infertility, things slipping out of her hands. And her pet dog Savitri’s pregnancy and giving birth to kids made her regain her confidence, happiness and she felt enough for herself. Even it changed the way I was looking at Dolly. We women are injected with such thoughts socially and in families also. Our mothers and grandmothers have always stepped into sacrificing their happiness first for the sake of others. That becomes a non-questionable norm and nobody bothers to change it. If I can change it a bit, I can make things better for my daughter. Its not about being unkind, but you need to love and prioritise yourself.”

When asked about her upcoming projects, she says that she is working on a project for ‘HoiChoi’ originals. “I am really excited for this because nothing like this had come up yet in Bengali films. Interestingly, I am the only cast in the project. Hopefully, after this situation we will postively be working for it,” she concludes.

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