Shame that human trafficking is still happening: Swara Bhasker

The bold actor-activist opens up about her new web series, change of opinion about cops and how she handles Twitter controversies

Swara Bhasker
The Raanjhanaa star could not hide her excitement of playing a cop for the first time in her 10 years in Bollywood | File Photo: PTI

Swara Bhasker is a tough character – both on and off the screen. Her public image of a bold and fearless person, who speaks from the heart, has often found her playing similar roles on screen. From Friday (August 21), she will be seen in the Eros Now web series Flesh where she plays a tough cop, ACP Radha Nautiyal, out there to fight human trafficking and prostitution. Flesh comes soon after Swara’s Amazon Prime Video Show Rasbhari.

Swara told Indian Express that she was shocked on learning about the reality of human trafficking. “It is such a shameful thing that in the 21st century, human trafficking is still a thing that is happening. The most gruesome reality about trafficking is that there are people in this world who would do that to children. That’s just unforgivable, it’s pure evil. I was most stunned and disturbed by the complicity of the civil society in this whole thing,” she said in the interview.

About the storyline of Flesh, Swara said it is a story of good vs evil, where she is playing the good cop. The actor found the role of ACP Radha quite demanding. “I would find hope in the fact that like my character in the show is fighting against this heinous crime, there must be people in real life who are doing the same thing.”

The Raanjhanaa star could not hide her excitement of playing a cop for the first time in her 10 years in Bollywood. “There are so many female actors whose entire career goes by, and they don’t get to don the uniform,” she said.

Flesh has also changed Swara’s view of the police force. “As a student who had engaged in activism for years, we always had a different view of the police,” Bhasker told Scroll.in. “But working on Flesh gave me a different perspective on the police’s thought process I wasn’t privy to before.”

Swara was shocked at becoming aware of “the complicity of civil society, lawmakers, law keepers, and law enforcers in sustaining the flesh trade, made easier with the way tech, ease of transportation and communication have evolved”.

And then there was research done to play a cop like ACP Radha Nautiyal. As part of her research, Swara Bhasker spoke to a lot of cops and found something in common. “I was very struck by the fact that there was a very palpable frustration that I felt in all of them. Everyone said the same thing which was basically that ‘We work so hard, we risk our lives but the system gets manipulated so easily by the criminals’.  So I took that and used that frustration as Radha’s motivating factor,” the actor told theindianexpress.com.

Swara is not new to the medium of web series. Though Flesh comes soon after her Amazon Prime Video Show ‘Rasbhari’, the Veere Di Wedding actor has dabbled in the digital space long before it became a rage. She first ventured into this medium in 2016 with Voot’s It’s Not That Simple. Asked about the difference between web and other medium, Swara said, “I think the best kind of art will be created in the most free atmosphere.”

Swara summed up her experience on Twitter rather eloquently when she told theindianexpress.com, “My experience has taught me that Twitter and social media represent a very twisted, often echo chamber-ish kind of reality. It’s not the reality of the entire audience.”

With Flesh, Swara has completed a decade in the entertainment industry. She recalled fond memories of working with stalwarts like Farooq Shaikh, Shyam Benegal, and Sooraj Barjatya in all these years.

Next, Swara wants to work behind the camera as a writer and producer. “I hope to have more say in the stories that I act in,” she concluded.

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