Following the release of her new Amazon Prime Video series Rasbhari, Swara Bhasker spoke to me about her five favourite shows, and how they’ve impacted her career choices. From feel-good comfort watches to lavish period dramas, here’s her list:
The Wonder Years
I was really young when I watched it, maybe around ten. In India especially, when you are young, no one talks about sexuality. It just wasn’t part of the conversation and I was actually born into a fairly liberal family. So, a lot of these shows were a way to understand what was happening to us and puberty as a whole. The Wonder Years is also just a warm and beautiful tale. The whole romance between Kevin and Winnie and the way it grows and the fact that it is not exactly a happy ending is so beautiful. Even though these were all American characters and the context was different, the show rises above all the local context which, in fact, is a mark of a good story.
I’m always late to discovering great shows. I binge-watched Downton Abbey during this lockdown. Even though there is a ‘massy’ aspect to it, what I liked most is the way it humanizes historical changes. We studied feudalism in school and college but we have never seen or experienced what it must have been like. I think what I liked most is that it gave equal weightage to the ‘masters’ and ‘servants’. And of course there are such amazing performances. Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess is just another level. As an actress, it gives me hope that I could perhaps get a role like that when I’m 80.
Pride And Prejudice
As you can see, I am a bit obsessed with historical stories. Pride And Prejudice gets so many human characteristics and aspects of human nature on point. There’s a lot of tropes that are relevant especially today – the headstrong female lead who is also very vulnerable. While she needs to be saved, she doesn’t want to acknowledge that she wants to be saved. As Elizabeth, Jennifer Ehle has done a splendid job and is such a tremendous actress. There is also Mr. Darcy who is this tall, dark, handsome and rich stranger who wants to save her but will only do so when he is challenged by her. It’s a wonderful story of how opposites attract. Also I think, as Indian viewers, we understand this idea of honour more than anyone else.
Bharat Ek Khoj
The Doordarshan show was Shyam Benegal’s adaptation of Nehru’s book of the same name. It was such a great way of conveying the heavy and important aspects of the book without actually having to read the book. Even the dramatization was very well done and it was such good fictional content. It was one show that was so well-intentioned with solid content that was aiming at giving something substantial to the viewer.
Dekh Bhai Dekh
Dekh Bhai Dekh was such an aspirational show. It was about a joint family that was also very open-minded in the sense that the son had a girlfriend, the parents used to tease him about it and even the relationship with the servant was one of camaraderie. Even though it was a traditional set-up, the relation between the characters was not traditional at all and there were such amazing performances. Everyone was so lovable and there was such a fun vibe to the whole show. It didn’t have the stereotypical depiction of older people who are stuffy about morality and culture, they were fun, modern and open-minded.