Swara Bhasker has been called a B-grade actress by her ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ Returns co-star Kangana Ranaut. Swara who is known to speak her mind on and off social media is also a regular target for trolls. At a time when the insider-outsider debate in Bollywood has reached its peak, ETimes got in touch with Swara for her views and thoughts on being graded for her acting, her friendship with Taapsee Pannu and her thoughts on nepotism. Here are excerpts from our chat …

Swara you have always been very vocal about your views on every topic. Recently Kangana has said that you are deviating the conversation she has started about getting justice for Sushant, what do you have to say ?

I think when you call your colleagues “Chaaploos, chaatney waaley, needy outsider, B grade actress!” and other such flattering adjectives, the conversation tends to get deviated. I think that if Kangana wants this conversation to be about justice for Sushant, she shouldn’t make it about herself and her personal vendetta. She should celebrate Sushant, not deride everyone else.

For someone who is an outsider and has made it on her own in the industry where do you stand in this entire nepotism debate.

I’ve always maintained that “everyone agrees nepotism exists in Bollywood”. I’ve gone as far as describing Bollywood as ‘feudal’. It’s just that I think there are structural reasons for that and we need to go deeper than individual name-calling and understand that structure, if we want to change anything for the better. I actually questioned Karan Johar about the ‘feudal’ nature of Bollywood on camera in 2016. But on a positive note, I think with the proliferation of OTT platforms and the audience becoming more appreciative of newer stories – things are opening up for ‘outsiders’.

Has there ever been a case where you lost a film and were replaced by someone who got the job for her connect with the industry or a recommendation from a family friend.

I think we all have such stories. Power structures and relationships of privilege or ‘sifaarish’ are a reality in every field – same goes for Bollywood. The way to change that is to make sure that ‘outsiders’ films are watched in large numbers in theatres.

You have got a lot to praise for your films with Kangana, how is she as co-star and are you open to working with her In the future?

I choose films for the script and for the role. If a suitable project and role comes along I’m happy to work with anyone. I don’t hold people’s opinions against them. Kangana is a talented actress and a great performer.

You have been called a B grade actress by her and you put out a tweet supporting Kangana and said B is for “Bemisaal”, if you had to grade her as an actress what would you say?

I think she is a top notch actress. My favourite Kangana performances are as Rani in ‘Queen’ and as Datto in ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’.

What do you have to say to a girl who is an outsider watching this entire drama unfold wanting to make her debut in Bollywood ?

Fasten your seat-belt and buckle up for an exciting ride girl! (laughs)

If you had to go back in time and give your younger self some advice what would it be?

I would tell my younger self it’s important to sleep at night and wake up in the mornings. Cheerfully ! And perhaps I’d tell myself to be less impulsive- but that I will probably be telling myself my whole life.

Has this entire episode got you and Taapsee closer, even though you have known each other for a long time?

I’ve admired Taapsee for long as an actress. Now I admire her as a person too.

You are often attacked for your views on social media, despite that you keep your presence felt, what makes you go on?

The fact that my views are based on my convictions, and principles which I’m willing to stand by and fight for. Also, I now feel that I represent voices and causes other than my own individual one- so it feels like I must soldier on and not give up despite the hate and abuse.

Are there days when you feel like going off social media and have you ever thought of deleting your account?

YES, on many many days. Sometimes I delete the apps from my phone (but not delete the account) to give myself a social media detox. But inevitably I come back. (laughs)

You and Sonam Kapoor are really close friends , have you reached out to her in the middle of this, do you talk to her on how to battle trolls?

Sonam and I talk regularly but we don’t discuss trolls because really what is there to discuss about such avoidable vermin? We talk about our lives and our future plans and meaningful and fun stuff.