New Delhi: She is frank, honest and fearless. Actress Swara Bhaskar believes in acknowledging the "good" as well as "not-so-good" realities of the film industry and says when someone tries to shut her down, is when she gets more strength to rise above the fear and that it is a test of her conviction.
"Life teaches everyone as we go about living it -- it is normal," Swara told IANS when asked if the incidents when she has been questioned for speaking her mind have affected her as a person or made her stronger.
"With the rise of social media, however, I feel, speaking and thinking has become a contested space where people get to question you and tell you what to do. I think that the time when someone tries to shut you down is the test of your conviction, and that gives me the strength to rise above the fear of 'what will happen if I do this'," she added.
The 29-year-old, who made her debut in filmdom in 2010 with "Madholal Keep Walking", has essayed some strongly opinionated roles in films like "Nil Battey Sannata", "Anaarkali of Aarah" and "Listen... Amaya". Her on-screen persona is no different from off screen as she believes in speaking her heart out.
Her critique of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Padmaavat" as a movie that glorifies Sati and Jauhar sparked a war of words between celebrities with some supporting her while others dismissed her point.
Asked what makes Swara different from other Bollywood actresses, she said: "Everyone has their way of looking at matters, and everyone's opinions are bound to differ. I believe in frankly acknowledging the good as well as not-so-good realities of our industry.
"I am an outsider who has found perfect harmony in the kind of work I do here, but I am also willing to voice my disappointment every time I find something off."
The actress is currently being featured as one of the women changemakers in Season 3 of Levi's #IShapeMyWorld campaign. It is driven by the insight that in a world that still tries to restrain women from achieving their potential by fueling insecurities about themselves -- whether it is about her "body" or her "being" -- there is an increasing number of stories of women who took their chances and beat the odds.
Swara feels she has literally shaped her world in Bollywood by speaking out.
"I believe in speaking my mind and being frank. My parents gifted me the feeling of fearlessness. I believe in looking beyond existing stereotypes in my industry -- right from gender discrimination; to pre-defined characteristics of a typical actress; to the portrayal of women in society.
"My belief in rising above fear and speaking out is how I shape my world," added the daughter of well-known strategic analyst C. Uday Bhaskar and professor of film studies Ira Bhaskar.
She said she never thought of speaking out or doing what she feels like as something that requires strength or as something out of the ordinary.
"I always believed myself to be a regular urban Indian kid. It is easier for me to be myself and make the right choices that way. This is who I am and have always been."
Being a girl child in a country like India, the best gift she got from her parents was the quality of being "fearless".
"As individuals too, it is very important for us to interact with the society around us. I am what I am because of the upbringing my parents gave us as children, and they continue to teach me to believe in myself and do everything with conviction."
On the big screen, Swara will next be seen in "Veere Di Wedding".