Actress Swara Bhasker defends her latest show Rasbhari, says it’s not a sex comedy
Adolescent sexuality is taboo. Likewise, the portrayal of adult sexuality stands the risk of being labelled vulgar. Despite the prospect of being classified as smutty, the new show on Amazon Prime Video, Rasbhari, is unapologetic in the exploration of these subjects.
The makers have cleverly garbed the narrative with humour to make it less scandalous. The show has received mixed reviews and low ratings on popular websites. But the leading lady, Swara Bhasker, who plays the role of Shanu, an upright English teacher whose alter ego Rasbhari is the exact opposite, defends her web series. “If you just watch the trailer, you may think it is all about sex and sensationalism. But when I read the script, I realised that this story goes beyond the topic of sexuality,” says the actress.
The story is set in Meerut, and features stereotypically small-town Indian characters and elements. There are dutiful wives and dallying husbands. There are cyber cafes where couples meet for privacy. There’s also a desire and urgency among teenagers to lose their virginity. Nand, the protagonist is one such teenager who is attracted to his teacher, Shanu. But things don’t really go as planned.
There are layers to this simple story. Swara says, “It deals with adolescent sexuality in an Indian context and Rasbhari’s persona is a commentary on the fear our repressed society has of adult sexuality. On the one hand, our society vilifies adult sexuality, on the other, it desires it too.” Swara effortlessly portrays Shanu and Rasbhari’s roles, making them appear as two distinct personalities. As the disciplined teacher, she is respectable and as the bold seductress, she is intimidating.
“I would feel scared of Rasbhari if I met her. She is society’s idea of the predatory woman. I have attempted to capture the chutzpah in her and wanted the character to go beyond her sexuality. With Shanu, I adopted a no-nonsense approach. She’s a good teacher and is invested in it,” enthuses Swara. Although the actress was trolled online for the show, Swara is not one to shy away from criticism. “People who are critiquing the show are proving the point we are trying to make. It’s very important to speak about sexuality, gender stereotypes and parenting. You will definitely think about the hypocrisy that exists in our society after watching Rasbhari.”
If not an actor what would you be?
What are you currently reading?
Just started Middlemarch by George Elliot.
A movie that you recommend for a family get together and a movie for a date night?
Amar Akbar Anthony with family and Casablanca with a date.
What is your ideal holiday?
A relaxed holiday in a property surrounded by greenery in the mountains. I would like to spend time with loved ones, talking to them, reading books and eating good food.
What are the three things you want to accomplish before the end of this year?
I want to complete a script I’m working on, shoot a short film and work on my ideal body.
What’s the best part about being a celebrity?
Strangers are nice to you.
What’s your fashion hack?
Topknot, kaajal and chunky silver jewellery.
Any hidden talents?
I give a very good shoulder massage!
Describe yourself in three words.
Well-intentioned, confident and impulsive.