By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | October 03, 2017
The big day for Swagata Naik is this Friday. Call For Fun, a comedy directed by Janak Toprani with absolute newcomers prepares to hit the screens and Swagata is showing no signs of ‘Friday Nerves’. “I am just enjoying the moment and hoping for the best. I am overwhelmed with all the support and looking forward to continuously doing good work,” says the actor, who was born in Ranchi (now living in Mumbai), and whose parents have been serving the country in the Army.
“My parents are in the Army. My father, a Brigadier with the Army Medical Corps is currently serving and my mother served as a Nursing Officer for 21 years,” reveals Swagata who had a nomadic existence changing six schools, completing her Class XII from Delhi and graduating as a lawyer from NALSAR University, Hyderabad.
openingdoorz caught up with the multi-talented girl, who revels in the creative field, for an insight into her foray into films after chucking a lucrative job as a lawyer.
From a comfortable job as a lawyer, to a complete shift in career; how did this come about?
My parents have given my brother (Suraj) and me a very holistic upbringing, so both of us have varied interests. I have always been creative—I write, I love reading, I paint, I love crafts and I also love public speaking. My family and I love the cinema. I was always interested in the stage and I was at the center of all activities at college and even when I was a lawyer.
So, movies was always at the back of your mind?
I think the little Swagata would nod her head and say, ‘well I always said you should have been an actor’. However, my journey as a lawyer forms a large part of me even as an actor, and if you like anything about my craft, a major credit goes to all the people who shaped me as a lawyer.
As I said and at the risk of sounding arrogant, I was a successful corporate lawyer when I decided to leave the profession and become an actor. I continue to love law, but this space gives my creative thinking a voice and a platform. I love the movies; it is an art form that finds such a wide audience with an enormous ability to affect lives and the world. It is not an active art form like reading, its passive and in that it has so much power to affect its audience. That is a beautiful space to be in.
You’ve chucked it all to focus on your dream; you left a cushy job to pursue acting, how are you doing thus far?
I am still learning but I have been blessed to have worked with some lovely people along the way. If I have been given this moment today, where in a short time I have a film that releases in every part of the country, Inshallah, with more hard work and blessings, I will forge ahead. One must always keep the eyes on the prize.
Coming back to your first major release, Call for fun, what is the film about?
It’s a fun caper where the protagonist and his friends attempt a business venture that soon brings about a lot of misadventures. In this background, the film also talks about the social reality of depression and loneliness in fast cities.
How do you see it performing considering there are no big names?
Nowadays, the audience wants good content, and a film like ours will be a like breath of fresh air. We hope for the best. The response in the media has been overwhelming. The team is grateful.
How did your role come about?
It was a couple of rounds of auditions. Janak Sir (the director) being from a theatre background approached The Jeff Goldberg Studio, where I train. They had open auditions and based on who fit what part, each of us got our roles.
This will be your first release. Is there any sense of nervousness… of expectations… of wondering how your performance will be received?
I am grateful to all the powers that be for giving me this opportunity. I am taking this with equanimity—you and I know that each step in this field is prone to success and folly independent of the other. I am just enjoying the moment and hoping for the best. I am overwhelmed with all the support and looking forward to continuously doing good work, by the grace of God.
What’s the process you have employed to ensure you are in sync with production houses, ensuring you are aware of auditions etc?
Like all newcomers, I keep in touch with casting directors through social media and on the phone. We are indeed blessed that we live in such a technologically-advanced age where it is not impossible to get in touch with the relevant people. Also, the process is far more transparent and announcements are always up in the media for open auditions. I use each audition as a way to showcase my craft. If not that project, the casting directors or producer may remember you for another one, so one must always give 150 percent in an audition. The key is tenacity and hard work.
Do you feel talented actors get their due in this industry?
That is a tricky question. I suppose your talent lies in your craft as much as your soft skills. I believe being smart while your work hard eventually pays off. The finest and the most successful actors are talented in some form or the other.
Any other Bollywood movies in the pipeline?
Inshallah! Something will work out soon.
Besides Bollywood, are you working on any other regional films?
I have auditioned for a few and await responses. It is a large part of this field. I can speak Telugu so I am currently targeting that industry.
Finally, what according to you defines a good performance?
If an actor affects you in any way, that is a good performance. If the same performance continues to affect you over a period of time, then it is a great performance. Timelessness is the true measure of an artist. Another interesting test is to watch an artiste perform without words. If he/she can affect you without the use of language, I think that is beautiful.