Scroll interview

Swara Bhasker on *that* ‘Veere Di Wedding’ scene: ‘You go wow, woah woah but it isn’t disgusting’

The actress has drawn praise for her no-holds-barred performance in the comedy ‘Veere Di Wedding’.

(Spoilers ahead about a crucial plot point in Veere Di Wedding.)

Who is more controversial – the actress Swara Bhasker or Sakshi Soni, the free-thinking and expletives-spouting character she plays in Shashanka Ghosh’s Veere Di Wedding? The choice is tough.

Bhaskar has been regularly attacked by online trolls for her political views. Ahead of the June 1 release of Veere Di Wedding, produced by Rhea Kapoor and Ekta Kapoor, some offended Twitter users urged people to boycott the comedy because it featured Bhasker. The outrage continued after the release of the movie, which stars Bhasker alongside Kareena Kapoor, Sonam K Ahuja and Shikha Talsania. The film tells the story of the friendship between four women, each of whom is at a different juncture with respect to the institution of marriage. Bhasker’s character is in the throes of a divorce that is precipitated after Sakshi’s husband catches her masturbating.

The moment has been praised as well as criticised for its boldness. Some Twitter users detected a pattern that suggested that bots were at work behind the tweets posted by people who claimed to have been offended by the scene. The campaign does not seem to have worked: the movie had earned an estimated Rs 46 crores between Friday and Tuesday. Excerpts from an interview with Swara Bhasker, whose credits include the Tanu Weds Manu films and Nil Battey Sannata.

Have you started to feel that viewers are not able to separate your politics from your craft? Is the outrage caused by your views casting a shadow over the responses to your performances?
Well, I don’t know. Maybe it is. But I suppose it is not only me. We are now a country that does not know how to tolerate opinions, especially if it is an opinion that is different from your own. I think that’s a problem every public figure will have to face. I keep going back to the case of Baahubali’s Sathyaraj, who had to apologise for something he said ten years ago ahead of the film’s release.

I’m a lot more vocal, and I don’t seem to stop. I seem to keep saying things, giving my opinion or whatever that seems to be angering people. I don’t know what to do about that, frankly. I don’t respond to things because I’m an actor. I respond to things because I’m a citizen. I think it is the job of all of us citizens to participate in a responsible manner in public discourse because that shapes public opinion, which in turn shapes policy. If there hadn’t been such a massive outrage to the Kathua and Unnao cases, these cases would not have even moved forward. I think we do bear that responsibility, and I make my comments in that light.

But I do have to say that Veere Di Wedding reassures me a lot because despite the hateful, bigoted calls to boycott the film because I had initiated that placard campaign [in protest to the Unnao and Kathua incidents], people turned up in huge numbers to watch the film. I’m so happy to see these numbers. I guess people do not judge you for your political opinions after all.

Veere Di Wedding (2018).

Would you have picked Sakshi Soni if you had to choose between the four characters?
When Rhea [Kapoor], Mehul and Nidhi narrated the script to me, they were actually offering me Meera’s role [played by Shikha Talsania]. I read that role and I felt that the character is a little similar to what I had done in Tanu Weds Manu Returns, where I’d already played a mother. I felt that I didn’t want to carry another baby around the sets. So I actually asked for Sakshi’s role because I thought it is a character I’ve not done before.

Did growing up in Delhi help in preparing for the role?
There’s a certain swag, a certain quality to Sakshi’s language and a certain bluntness to her which I think is very Delhi. Of course, Sakshi represents a very uber-rich part of Delhi, which is not at all where I came from. My parents were middle-class government servants. My mother is a professor, my father was in the Navy. So, in that sense, I’ve had a privileged upbringing, but a very comfortable government servant-kind of upbringing. It isn’t this crazy money that Sakshi represents.

That said, culturally, the fact that she also comes from a big city and an English-speaking background – that helps you decode the character right in the beginning. And then you build into it. I decided that I didn’t want Sakshi to be a cardboard cut-out of this rich bitch. There is a very human and a very endearing quality to Sakshi. She’s not a bad person. She’s just this entitled, snobbish person, but there’s a lovableness to her because of her madness. She’s very fond of her friends – she’ll use her father’s credit card not just to solve her own problems but those of her friends as well. That’s kind of sweet.

I also think the language she uses makes her very relatable – however fancy she may be, wearing rich clothes or whatever, the moment she opens her mouth, it is the Delhi street that’s talking. That I think saves Sakshi from being very unlikable.

Swara Bhaskar as Sakshi Soni. Image credit: Balaji Telefilms, Anil Kapoor Films & Communication Network and Saffron Broadcast & Media
Swara Bhaskar as Sakshi Soni. Image credit: Balaji Telefilms, Anil Kapoor Films & Communication Network and Saffron Broadcast & Media

How challenging was it to perform the masturbation scene? How did you prepare for it?
There’s nothing to prepare, other than be aware of the fact that women can pleasure themselves and that it is okay and normal adult behaviour.

The thing with all such scenes, whether it is an intimate love-making or a masturbation scene, is that you have to trust the makers. I read the script and I really just trusted the intentions of Rhea [Kapoor] and Shashanka [Ghosh] and the writers. The only thing I told Shashanka was, let’s keep it on the comic side because I knew that it was a shocking scene. I knew people are going to take some time to even understand how they should respond to it.

I wanted it to be funny. Even if it is shocking, it should make you go wow, woah woah, but not disgust you. I told Shashanka that even if it meant that we play it a little over the top, we should play it like it is embarrassing for her as well. I didn’t want it to go into a porn kind of space at all, which is why we decided to put Sakshi’s own characteristics into the scene. She’s the kind of girl who tells her husband to wait while she finishes masturbating. She won’t be like, oh baby, you come now, let’s do this together.

I was very conscious of the scenes before and after that scene too. I was, like, let her be a little sheepish. Let’s see her vulnerable side as well. It is embarrassing for her to talk about it to her friends. However rich she may be, we don’t come from a culture that is particularly encouraging of expressions of female sexuality. We all internalise that sense of shaming that women are forced to face. Sakshi is no different.

How many takes was the sequence shot in?
We did three takes, I think. I don’t know which one they kept. Nothing is done in one take in films – we have to factor angles, light etc. Everything is done a couple of times, however awkward the scene.

Bhangra Ta Sajda, Veere Di Wedding (2018).

What kind of energy is generated on a set dominated by women?
I think there is a certain bonding that women have on the sets when they work together. It is nice to be in an atmosphere where you don’t have to be even a little bit careful about what you say, how you come across. It is just a less judgmental atmosphere. Or maybe it was just these women are so amazing and so much fun.

Also, there’s that whole sexual dynamic at the workplace that gets diffused and nullified completely. When I’m working with men, I’ve always felt the need to be a little careful – that I shouldn’t be misunderstood because I’m someone who’s very vocal and very friendly. I’ve always wondered if I’ve given the wrong impression or hoped that I haven’t sent any mixed signals. All those silly fears we have – all that gets completely nullified and that’s great.

There was a negative online review from a journalist who said that you are not used to playing affluent characters.
I think that journalist can thank me because she was quoting me verbatim from an interview I had given her. She was quoting from my response to her question about any apprehensions I had about playing this role. So, I’m happy to draft her review in the future as well.

Pakistani actress Urwa Hocane accused you of expressing contradictory views on her country. You said that ‘Pakistan is not like an enemy state’ in an interview on a Pakistani television channel and that it is ‘a failed state’ in a conversation on an Indian network.
I think I said this on my Twitter profile as well. I personally don’t think there is any hypocrisy in what I said. I don’t think there’s any change in opinion. I do not think a government or a people are equal to each other, which is true of all countries. You can’t hold an entire people or an entire culture responsible for the actions of a government.

As an Indian citizen, I have a full right to say that there are areas where the Pakistani government has failed. We will ask Pakistan about their role in state-funded terrorism, for instance. But that in no way denies the possibility that I may have a lot of love and regard for the people of Pakistan. I’ve been there twice, I’ve received warm hospitality. I’m proud to have very close friends who are Pakistanis. I’ve gone on television shows in Pakistan and spoken about how Lahore is one of my favourite cities in the world and I don’t see why I should change that opinion.

It is basically a stupid, reductive argument. It is nice to see India and Pakistan united in so many things and that includes trolling.

Nil Battey Sannata (2016).
Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.


Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.