Feb 182018

Ahead of the release of her drama, Veerey Di Wedding, Swara Bhaskar reflects on her career, and moving from small-budget to commercial films

Still from Veerey Di Wedding
Still from Veerey Di Wedding

Connecting with Swara Bhaskar for this interview, her open letter to Sanjay Leela Bhansali, slamming his glorification of jauhar in Padmaavat, invariably steers the conversation. Referring to her act of voicing the opinion of many as she chided the celebration of a regressive tradition, I tell her, “It was a bold move!” Pat comes her reply, “And an incredibly stupid one too, I hear…” We laugh at the plight of an industry that doesn’t encourage debate around art, even though art, in its truest sense, is debatable. Yet, Bhasker promises that Bollywood has more good than is visible. In a chat with mid-day, she talks about why she isn’t agitated with the reaction to her letter, being shrugged off by award gala organisers despite delivering acclaimed acts, and how her next, Veerey Di Wedding, aims to change the way films led by women are perceived.

Swara Bhaskar

Edited excerpts from the interview:

What has been your take away from the controversy that attached itself to your open letter to Bhansali?
I didn’t even know that I was so famous, or my voice mattered this much. Although in a twisted, warped way, it did remind me of the reach I had. However, the Bollywood I know deserves more credit than we give it, because the hatred I received for writing that letter came from social media users, not the industry. Bollywood braves too much criticism. It has accepted me the way I am, and given me the space to thrive. Fundamentally, I have fierce opinions. And if I have them, I must be prepared to deal with trolls. In Bollywood, however, everyone is only trying hard to hold their ground, despite all odds. So, this is not the industry that must be blamed.

Do you find it difficult to be outspoken?
I have to be careful about the things I say because it will be up for scrutiny. Words are twisted out of context to imply something else. This is also probably the reason behind artistes’ hesitation to back issues that they feel strongly about.

Your next, Veerey Di Wedding, is being helmed by four women. What change do you believe this film will being about?
Primarily, I hope it changes the way people perceived films that are helmed by women. Four women coming together for a film does not imply it will be another Sex And The City. This is not a chick flick. It’s a story of women, their flaws and personal journeys. Not every film featuring women must have a social message or a cause to promote. This one is about relationships. I’ve enjoyed working with the cast [Kareena Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor and Shikha Talsania]. I have worked harder on this film than I have on any other. I hope it changes the way films featuring women as protagonists are viewed in Bollywood.

How do you think the industry has changed since 2010, when you debuted with Guzaarish?
It is now more accepting of outsiders. I’ve had a wholesome journey. I have seen how difficult it is to make it, yet learnt how easy it can be. My journey has been easier than that of several others. Given that I am well educated, I never lacked confidence. I didn’t have financial constraints either. Also, in this industry, talent nahi chupta. And that understanding is relieving. It’s interesting to see how the palette of the industry is changing today. Scripts are different, characters are distinct, and carefully created. The role of a hero’s sister, the kind I played in Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (2015), demanded more from me than merely tying a rakhi to my brother [played by Salman Khan]. A single scene, a single line can make your life. I remember, when I entered the industry, among the first people I met was Naseer sir [Naseeruddin Shah]. He asked me, “Do you love acting so much that you’ll die if you don’t do it?” I thought, ‘That’s dramatic. Who dies if they don’t act?’ But, now I know what he meant. This industry demands so much from you that unless you have conviction, a passion to survive, you won’t. Anything and everything can drive you nuts. I’m ecstatic that my craft is valued today.

Despite being among the most acclaimed actors for your role in Anarkali of Aarah last year, you didn’t receive many awards. Is that upsetting?
Awards are important for someone like me, who has entered Bollywood without any backing from a bigwig. So, an award is a validation that I, a newbie, am getting my due when I perform well. But, they aren’t deal breakers for me. Apart from the opinion of the jury, several factors go into determining the winner.

Do you think box-office figures are one of them?
Yes. See, I don’t think [good] box office figures are signs of appreciation. Great content is celebrated at the BO, but often, so are poor films. Associating economics with a movie is confusing. Anarkali was a passion project. We struggled to release it. I went to every big studio to get the backing. I don’t blame them for not producing it because, sometimes, businessmen can’t see content objectively. For me, the film was a hit. It released in a pithy 300 screens at first, and still won hearts. I got messages on social media. Passersby at airports stopped to talk to me about it. So, awards or not, my validation came from the audiences’ reception. I hope it marked the beginning of a trend where content-heavy films that don’t feature stars are also backed by [big] producers.

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Dec 312017

2.0, Veerey Di Wedding, Padman, Thugs of Hindostan, Sanju, among other big films, here’s the list of films that are about to release in 2018


Touted to be the most expensive film of the year (at reportedly R450 crore), the Rajinikanth, Akshay Kumar and Amy Jackson-starrer is a sequel to director S Shankar’s 2010 film, Enthiran. Rajinikanth reprises the role of Dr Vaseegaran and his creation Chitti, the robot. Kumar plays his powerful nemesis. The Khiladi is said to have 12 different looks in the thriller with Jackson playing a mutant. The film will be a blend of science fiction and human drama.

Shah Rukh’s untitled next
Shah Rukh Khan stars in Aanand L Rai’s untitled directorial venture. The closely-guarded project has Khan play a dwarf. Katrina Kaif, who was earlier supposed to play herself, is playing an actress. The film also stars Anushka Sharma. Heavy on VFX, this is touted to be an ambitious gamble for Khan who is shedding his romantic hero image. The film is slated to release in December 2018.

Veerey Di WeddingVeerey Di Wedding

A chick-flick that will be India’s answer to Sex And The City. Starring Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Swara Bhaskar and Shikha Talsania, it is set in the backdrop of a big fat Indian wedding. Shashanka Ghosh’s directorial venture also marks Bebo’s return after a long maternity break.

Gully Boy
Zoya Akhtar’s next, starring Ranveer Singh, is based on the lives of street rappers in Mumbai. Ranveer has been training with original gully boys — Divine and Naezy. Alia Bhatt also stars in the musical.


Reema Kagti’s Akshay Kumar -starrer traces the 1948 gold win for the Indian hockey team in London — barely a year after India won its independence. The slice-of-history also marks television actor Mouni Roy’s big screen debut. Though Kumar doesn’t have a fleshed out role, it will be interesting to see Kumar allow junior actors to take centerstage.

Sui DhaagaSui Dhaaga

Varun Dhawan and Anushka Sharma team up for a desi story, which is based on the khadi initiatives of Mahatma Gandhi. Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015) director Sharat Katariya is keen to bring back Gandhian values, making the use of indigenous fabric relevant in today’s times. Shooting starts in March. Dhawan plays a tailor in the social drama. The actor has been preparing for the role by learning how to sew.

Manikarnika: The Queen Of JhansiManikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi

In her first attempt at a biopic, Kangana Ranaut will be seen playing the role of Rani Laxmibai in Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi. From learning sword fighting to horse riding to suffering a major head injury, the actress has gone through it all as preparation for the historical.


After taking the nation by storm with his phenomenal act in Baahubali, Prabhas will next be seen in the trilingual (Hindi, Tamil and Telugu), which also stars Shraddha Kapoor. While the story of the film is under wraps it is rumoured that Kapoor plays a double role.


Ranveer Singh came off as a refreshingly exuberant cop in the film’s first look. A remake of the hit South flick Temper, the film will see Singh in the role of cop Sangram Bhalerao. The thriller rolls in the first quarter of 2018.

Thugs of Hindostan
Thugs of Hindostan

Based on Philip Meadows Taylor’s 1839 novel Confessions of a Thug, the film brings Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan together. It chronicles a notorious gang who challenged the British Raj in the late 1800s.


The much-awaited biopic on Sanjay Dutt has Ranbir Kapoor stepping into his shoes. From being jailed to facing personal upheavals, Dutt’s life reads like a movie script. Directed by Rajkumar Hirani, the film’s cast includes Sonam Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Dia Mirza and Vicky Kaushal.

Fanne KhanFanne Khan

Anil Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan reunite after 17 years in this official remake of the Oscar-nominated Belgian film, Everybody’s Famous! (2000). The film narrates a story of a struggling singer who wants to make his daughter a big name in the music world. Rajkummar Rao, who had a fantastic year at the movies in 2017, is also part of the cast.

Race 3Race 3

The third instalment of the Race franchise has been in the news ever since its announcement. Salman Khan teams up once again with Kick (2014) co-actor Jacqueline Fernandez for Remo D’Souza’s action flick, slated for an Eid release. The cast includes Anil Kapoor, Bobby Deol, Saquib Saleem and Daisy Shah.


Saif Ali Khan’s daughter Sara Ali Khan makes her debut in this love story opposite Sushant Singh Rajput. Directed by Abhishek Kapoor, the film is set against the backdrop of the Kedarnath pilgrimage, and the devastating floods that hit Uttarakhand in 2013. Rajput essays the role of a dacoit, while Sara plays his love interest.

Sapna didi biopicSapna didi biopic

Based on a story by S Hussain Zaidi, from his book Mafia Queens, the film brings back the Piku (2015) duo Deepika Padukone and Irrfan Khan. It traces the story of Sapna didi, who wants to avenge the death of her husband and bring down an evil gangster — a character modelled on Dawood Ibrahim.


Produced by Karan Johar, it is the official remake of the Marathi blockbuster Sairat (2016). It marks the debut of Sridevi’s daughter Janhvi Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor’s brother Ishaan Khatter.


A biopic based on the life of social entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganantham, the film has Akshay Kumar play the protagonist — a simpleton who brings about a social revolution after making low-cost sanitary napkins. His journey to success is riddled with difficulties as he breaks the shackles of conservatism. Directed by R Balki, the film has Twinkle Khanna make her debut as the producer.

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Oct 032017

Sonam Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor Khan are getting along like a house on fire. The newest bffs in Bollywood are giving major friendship goals to everyone. Sonam and Bebo who are currently shooting for their upcoming film ‘Veerey Di Wedding’ took some time off to relax.

Shikha Talsania, who is also starring in the film posted a video on Twitter, where we see Kareena and Sonam making fun of each other’s diets. We hear Rhea Kapoor, Swara Bhaskar and Shikha Talsania in the background who are also pulling Sonam’s leg. Sonam is seen asking, “What do you want me to say?”, to which Swara replies, “What is your favorite dessert?”. Sonam replied, “It shouldn’t have calories.” Bebo joins in saying, “She shouldn’t eat desserts so she has just eaten a box of pringles.” Sonam then calls out Kareena for being ‘mean’ to her.

#Veere giving views on important world matters like Dessert 🙂 @sonamakapoor@RheaKapoor@ShikhaTalsania#KareenaKapoorKhan#VeereDiWeddingpic.twitter.com/eeJZtkjudZ

— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) October 1, 2017

The cast of ‘Veerey Di Wedding’ have been sharing some fun photos from the sets and offscreen as well. The movie based on women bonding has a lot of fun and glam vibes to it. Both Bebo and Sonam who are fashionistas and style divas, have been regularly sharing photos.

The film is being directed by Shashanka Ghosh and shot in Delhi and Bangkok. The film is based on a wedding and four women who embark upon a fun roadtrip.  ‘Veerey Di Wedding’ will mark the comeback of Kareena Kapoor Khan on the silver screen after her maternity break. She was last seen in the blockbuster film ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ opposite Salman Khan.

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Sep 192017

Ekta Kapoor

It was a chase right out of a Bollywood film. A property, vital to the makers of Veerey Di Wedding, was ‘abducted’, with the demand of a ransom. Only, that the property in concern was the official Instagram account of the Kareena Kapoor and Sonam-starrer, and the ransom, a role in the film. On Friday, the cast and crew of the Ekta Kapoor production were in the midst of filming when they noticed something amiss with the film’s account on the photo-sharing platform.

The makers grew suspicious after they noticed that the profile image had been changed to a sketch of a monkey. Apart from featuring an emoji of the Pakistan flag, the updated description was amended to read: “I am paki papu bhai (sic).”

Speaking to mid-day on the condition of anonymity, a member of the film’s digital promotion team says, “We had noticed the development and others had also informed us about it. We immediately reported the hacking to the Instagram headquarters in Mumbai and retrieved [control of the account]. It was hacked for about 90 minutes, allegedly by a resident claiming to be Pakistani. He went live and spoke mainly in Arabic, announcing that he’d return the account if the producers gave him a role in the film.” The social-networking company sprung into action and retrieved the account, also tracing the hacker’s origin to the neighbouring country.

While social media handles of celebrities have been hacked in the past, the incident marks the first time a Bollywood film’s account has been compromised. Co-producer Rhea Kapoor and Ekta Kapoor remained unavailable for comment.

Hackers love Bollywood

>> In September 2016, Hrithik Roshan’s Facebook page had been hacked. An ‘enterprising individual’ went live on his feed for a few minutes.

>> He can split a bullet into two but can’t avert hackers. In August 2016, Rajinikanth fell prey to online theft when his Twitter account was hacked. His daughter, Aishwarya, took to her handle to inform fans of the development.

>> In August 2015, hackers cracked the code to acquire access to Amitabh Bachchan’s Twitter handle. Links to adult sites were apparently shared on his feed.

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Aug 312017

Sumeet VyasSumeet Vyas

At a time when Indian video-streaming portals began to gain popularity among the masses, Permanent Roommates actor Sumeet Vyas was touted as the Shah Rukh Khan of the web world. Three years after making his acting debut on the web, Vyas will feature in the Bollywood film, Veerey Di Wedding, which sees him in the role of Kareena Kapoor Khan’s love interest.

Kareena Kapoor Khan
Kareena Kapoor Khan

Vyas admits that at the time, he wasn’t aware of who he was auditioning for, but inferred it involved big names, given the privacy the studio maintained during the screening process. “When I got a call for the audition, neither the co-stars nor the production house was named. I guessed that it would involve big names, because, in smaller projects, details are often revealed,” he laughs.

A long wait following the audition led him to believe his selection stood on flimsy grounds, but Vyas admits that the day he got the call was a special one. “From not having an idea about who the director was, to learning that it was such a huge film with big stars was a relief. I said, ‘Okay, I have made it.'”

Vyas, who is currently shooting for the web adventure show, Stupid Man Smart Phone, has dabbled in theatre and TV, previously featured in small roles in English Vinglish (2012), Guddu Ki Gun (2015) and Parched (2015). Veerey Di Wedding is a big-ticket outing, but the actor is unfazed by the scale. “As an actor, you move from one project to another, hoping your last fetches you the next. I avoid putting too much burden on one project. You do your best and stay excited about every project; if it turns out to be big, well and good. Then, say, thank you,” he says, adding that he has already met director Shashanka Ghosh and co-star Swara Bhaskar to discuss the film.

Also see: Ganesh Chaturthi: These celebs got ‘Ganpati Bappa’ home
Ganesh Chaturthi: These celebs got 'Ganpati Bappa' home

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Jul 302017

Sumeet VyasSumeet Vyas

Sumeet Vyas may have landed a plum role in the upcoming Kareena Kapoor Khan-Sonam Kapoor starrer Veerey Di Wedding, but before that he will be seen on a survival show, Stupid Man Smart Phone.

Best remembered from the web series Permanent Roommates, the makers claim it is the country’s first digital survival series.

Sumeet, along with a companion, will be dropped into a back-breaking environment in every episode. It is an adaptation of a British reality TV series of the same name.

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