Delhi has shaped the person I am today, says Swara Bhasker

Swara describes her relationship with Delhi as a “love affair that never really ends”.

author_img Anjani Chadha Published :  22nd June 2022 04:53 PM   |   Published :   |  22nd June 2022 04:53 PM
Actor Swara Bhaskar

Swara Bhaskar

One of the earliest memories of Delhi, actor Swara Bhasker recalls, is of her as a four-year-old zipping through the city with her father on his off-white Chetak scooter. It was a ritual of sorts for the father-daughter duo to stop at an ice cream cart, where young Swara would gorge on orange bars—she called them ‘orange chew’. “I loved those scooter rides,” exclaims the actor who has lived in various parts of the city. 

Swara describes her relationship with Delhi as a “love affair that never really ends”. In this edition of ‘City on my Mind’, the actor who has been a part of several acclaimed films—Tanu Weds Manu, Raanjhanaa, Nil Battey Sannata, and most recently Faraz Arif Ansari’s Sheer Qorma, etc.,—looks back on the 20 years that she spent in the Capital.

Read: Feminism is not restricted to women, says Swara Bhaskar

Vivid memories of Lutyens’ Delhi  
Missing the first bus to the campus and then anxiously waiting for the next one, only to land up in Kamla Nagar with friends by the afternoon—Swara’s ‘Delhi University’ experience has been no different than that of many of us. “The highlight was eating Maggi, aloo paratha, chai, and also banta… it is funny how all my college memories are about food (laughs),” says Swara, who was an English Honours student at Miranda House, North Campus. The educational institution, she feels, helped her build political education in a self-conscious way. “Our teachers were very progressive; a lot of them were activists themselves.

We used to attend these protest marches on various issues, from Arts Faculty to Law Faculty,” shares the actor, who—even as a celebrity—has been extremely vocal about social and political happenings. “That was a wonderful time,’ she recalls. Later, when she joined Jawaharlal Nehru University for a master’s degree, Swara took an interest in acting and was part of many street play performances. The medium, she says, allowed her to speak up on social issues while exploring the art of acting. 

It would be right to say that Swara has been exposed to culture from a very young age—she lived near Mandi House, which is the city’s art and cultural hub, and also trained in Bharatanatyam under the guidance of dancer Leela Samson. “Plays at Kamani [Auditorium], National School of Drama, Sangeet Natak Akademi, Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts, and then Triveni Kala Sangam…I have grown up going to all of these places,” the 34-year-old actor says, adding that it is this vibrant cultural scene that she loves about Delhi.

A place called home 
Despite living in Mumbai for about 14 years now, it is Delhi, she feels, that has helped her become the person that she is today. “I live in Mumbai but my heart is in Delhi. The city made me the independent working woman I am today. Delhi can be aggressive but I think it made me fearless. If you have lived in Delhi, you can easily live in any other place.” Talking about her relationship with the city, Swara admits, “Every time I land in Delhi, I take a breath of relief. I work in Mumbai—and I love that—but I see myself growing old in Delhi.”

After-school walks to Khan Market with her father, taking her family to a “shady” café in Paharganj that she discovered in her early twenties, visits to the Daryaganj Book Bazaar every Sunday morning with her then-boyfriend—Swara vividly remembers the many experiences she has had in Delhi. Even today, when she visits her family here, she goes to Khan Market and Lodhi Garden. “Delhi is home,” she happily concludes.

Favourite shopping zones: Dilli Haat and Khan Market 
Favourite street food spot: Nathu’s Sweets in Bengali market 
Favourite monument: The ones in Lodhi Garden
Best thing about Delhi: Winters