A still from Dobara Alvida featuring Swara Bhasker and Gulshan Devaiah
A still from Dobara Alvida featuring Swara Bhasker and Gulshan Devaiah

Dobara Alvida's Swara Bhasker and Gulshan Devaiah on relationships, activism and cinema

Swara Bhasker and Gulshan Devaiah on working across formats, lessons from their relationships and their love for cinema

Dobara Alvida, a short film by debutante director Shashank Shekhar Singh, sees two estranged lovers taking a trip down memory lane over an unexpected meeting in a shared cab. Featuring Swara Bhasker and Gulshan Devaiah; the 25-minute film sees regrets, complaints and longing — everything that completes a relationship — come alive on screen. INDULGE sits down for a chat with the actors about their short film, working across different formats, lessons from their past relationships and their plans for the future. Excerpts.

Q: We heard that the films had a lot of constraints, including budget. What was it about Dobara Alvida that made you come on board?
Gulshan Devaiah:
Swara Bhasker! I saw her name and immediately agreed. I have seen her work and I wanted to see what kind of chemistry we would bring onscreen. Besides, Shashank had a strong conviction with which he came to me and he kept coming back until I said yes. When it comes to my remuneration, I am not a big fan of people doing things for free. I can’t share my craft for free. But, I am very open to negotiations considering the constraints, and that’s what we did for this film as well.

Swara Bhasker: For me, it was personal. Shashank is a very old and dear friend of mine, who has been with me through thick and thin. I was very excited when he finally decided to turn into a director since I knew he had been wanting to do it for a while. Of course, when I read the script, I found it very sweet but even if it wasn’t, I still would have done it. And, it was lovely to discover that he is a very competent and able writer and director.

Also read | Gulshan Devaiah on completing a decade in Bollywood and why he has indefinitely retired from theatre

Q: This film is about two former lovers who happen to run into each other and share a cab ride. In real life, would you be comfortable confronting your ex?
It depends on which ex I run into; there are quite a few (smiles). They are some exes I absolutely don’t mind running into. In fact, I look forward to running into them because I remember them very fondly. But there are a few, I absolutely don’t want to. I think it really depends on what terms you part ways, what is remnant of the relationship and what that parting has done to you.

Q: There is a beautiful scene where Swara’s character reflects on her own flaws in her previous relationship. In real life, what have you both learnt about yourselves from your past relationships?
What I have learnt, in general, is that only love is not enough for a relationship to work. You can be madly in love with a person but co-existing needs a lot more than just love.

SB: I have learnt that I have very bad judgment, I am too trusting and I should read red flags better (laughs). I think I am an all-in person so, if I love someone, I go with 100 per cent of everything so there is too much trust, too much commitment and too much everything else. But, on the bad side, I have learnt that I can be a little insensitive, in a sense that I don’t always take into account or it doesn’t strike me how something that I do may inadvertently hurt someone. For instance, I have too many commitments so I lead chaotic life and sometimes I can become self-obsessed and a little insensitive.

GD: This is really fantastic that you are so aware. But, please don’t fall into the trap of blaming yourself too much. We have to find a way to forgive ourselves for messing up somewhere on the way.

SB: I am quite confused in my life when it comes to love and relationships. I feel like I have to learn from scratch. But right, I am actually in a very comfortable place, I am not thinking about relationships too much. If it happens, it will, otherwise I am good.

Also read | Swara Bhasker, Divya Dutta-starrer Sheer Qorma to have its world premiere at San Francisco International LGBTQ+ film festival

Q: Swara, you have always been vocal about politics in our country and also admitted how it has cost you work in the past. Have things changed now, considering more people are voicing their opinion from the industry?
I have noticed that recently (especially after CAA-NRC), a lot more people from the industry are speaking up, and it is nice to not be a lone voice and see people speaking up for things they care about. When it comes to my work getting affected, I think we all make choices and pay for them, whatever the price may be. So, if there is a price for speaking up, there is also a price for being silent, we may not know about it but everybody has a conscience and they feel things... maybe some people don’t like to be silent but chose it and then they deal with an internal struggle. My personality is such that if I were silent, I would have died a little bit from the inside. So, it is a very self-motivated decision to speak out. I think I have made a choice with awareness, not that it doesn’t hurt but I have made my peace with it. I have stopped worrying about things that are beyond my control. I can’t control people’s fear, political climate and hesitancy and I don’t blame anyone. In fact, I have even started telling my producers that you could be scared of the controversy but I assure you that I will bring media attention to everything that I do and it is up to them how they want to use it (laughs). 

Besides, work will come and go. If I lose one project, I will find another. If I don’t, I will create it. For instance, I have written two scripts.

Q: Tell us more about these scripts. Will you be directing them?
Itni aukaat nahi hai (I don’t think I am ready for that). I have been wanting to do certain parts so I decided to write scripts weaving in those parts. And, then I was like ‘why not produce them too?’

Q: Going forward, what kind of projects would you be interested to pursue?
I don’t know. I don’t have any fantasy that these are the people I want to work with, or these are the directors I want to work with. Things come to me and then I decided — oh, this sounds interesting, maybe I should do it! I am really open to surprises!

SB: I think I have done enough of the grounded, real and strong women, so, I am really looking to see what are the different kinds of characters that I can play. I have never done a historical, I have never done a biopic and I would love to do both. Besides, I feel I need to do a couple of workshops and learn a couple of new techniques of acting because I feel I have kind of hit a plateau in terms of what and how I perform. So, I would like to challenge and explore myself.

Streaming now on Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films’ YouTube channel.

Twitter: @heenakhandlwal

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