Swastika's role call

Swastika Mukherjee turns a few shades of grey for Kiriti Roy

  • Published 30.12.16
Swastika Mukherjee in Kiriti Roy, which releases today

In Aniket Chattopadhyay’s Kiriti Roy, which has Chiranjeet as the detective, Swastika Mukherjee plays a dark and mysterious 60-year-old. Though she has played such characters before, Junifer in Kiriti Roy is a little special. Yet, Swastika doesn’t want to do these “wild” characters in 2017 anymore. She tells t2 why...

Is it a coincidence that you are the preferred choice to play shady, mysterious women in detective films, from Byomkesh to Kiriti?
Yes, three Byomkesh films (Anjan Dutt’s Adim Ripu and Chitrachor, and Dibakar Banerjee’s Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!) and one Kiriti film... also Ebar Shabor (directed by Arindam Sil). Have I played a debauched woman in all? No. In Adim Ripu, yes; I played a bar singer. In Anjan Dutt’s second Byomkesh film, I played a good girl who helps unravel the mystery (laughs). Anguri in Dibakar’s Byomkesh had a lot of shades. And Junifer in Kiriti is again a very colourful character with an interesting past. She was a glorified prostitute in her hey days. Certainly one of the suspects or she could even be a murderer. 

I think most directors have this notion that Swastika can do justice to such roles. Maybe that’s what they think I am in real life! This particular role, I think, was offered to many actresses before me and they all declined because it’s the role of an old woman. Well, good for me because I find it very interesting to play someone double my age. Though Mani (daughter) would tell me that I looked horribly ugly and pathetic in that make-up. But at least I know how I would look when I am 60! Maybe not as an ugly, crazy, mad alcoholic woman. I will age gracefully! (Laughs)

You’ve always been comfortable talking about your age, and you also threw a birthday party when you turned 30...
Actors are very insecure about their age. I have never tried to hide my age or tell people I was 20 when I turned 30. And there are so many who do that! Of course I freak out a bit when I spot a white strand of hair... but that’s about it. We actors have a lot of pressure to hold on to our youth and beauty. I just hope I don’t go crazy when I turn 40! I have played a 50-year-old woman in Anubrato Bhalo Acho?. As an actress I feel lucky to have played such interesting characters. I don’t like playing bhadro-shobhyo characters.

Do you think you portray dark characters better?
These kinds of characters are always more colourful. Playing the other woman is always far more interesting than playing the docile housewife. But next year I hope to play the barir bou! Maybe not the good, domesticated housewife, but at least I want to explore that now. In Kiriti Roy, Junifer is such an alcoholic and I am not going to play such characters in the coming year! Seriously, my stint with alcohol and whores has to take a back seat now.

And do you think because you take on such screen roles, people think you are a wild child?
Yes, absolutely. After Take One released, my mom got so many calls from my relatives. People tend to take screen characters too seriously. After Take One, I had gone to the suburbs for an event and there was actually someone in the crowd who said, ‘Ish... this girl is such an alcoholic, is there nobody to take care of her at home?’ In India people find it difficult to separate the reel from the real. And actors, too, are very image-conscious. One of the primary reasons why they refuse to be bold on screen is because that may have a repercussion on their personal lives. Probably my choice to play shady characters has given the notion that I live this wild life. While in real life, my life is a big bore. (Laughs)


A detective you want to woo on screen: 
Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock obviously! 
Who in Tollywood do you think has that streak of detective in him/her?
Suman Mukhopadhyay. He is always doing jasoosi. 
A whodunit you’ve read and would love to act in if ever made into a film: 
Smilla’s Sense of Snow. Want to play Miss Smilla, the detective. 
A murder mystery film that still haunts you:
Bees Saal Baad and Kuheli.

Kushali Nag