WOW | Coverstory

Splendid Swastima

When you meet Swastima Khadka, you immediately realise there is more to her than it meets the eye. An immensely talented artist recognised for her abilities to emote and engage her viewers, she has her kitty full with interesting film projects including one of the highest grossing Nepali films Chhakka Panja 2.

Swastima has gained massive popularity from her dance number Kutu ma kutu and her recent release, Bulbul.

Off-screen, the young actor juggles various commitments ranging from promotional events for her films to shooting for commercials, editorials and music videos.

With success, popularity and living in the public eye come opinions, rumours, criticism and harassment. But this has not deterred her from following her dreams and doing what she does best.

On a sunny day in the city, we met the charming actor for an interaction. Excerpts from our conversation:

What is the real-life Swastima like?

Easy going, kind hearted and a little straightforward; I always speak the truth.

What attracts you about a movie?

Initially it used to be the script but now I have realised that the team is the most important part of a movie. Hence, now I only choose a film after enquiring about the team.

Your favourite project

My first movie Hostel Returns is very special to me; I feel a sense of attachment. As it was my debut movie, I faced a lot of challenges and learnt a lot from the team members. Also, I am really happy to be a part of Bulbul, not only has it received positive reaction but it was amazing experience working with the team.

What was working in Bulbul like?

I think the whole team gave their 100%. One of the biggest challenges for me was to get up in the morning and learn to ride a tempo. The director Binod Paudel was one of my biggest motivators on set. He made me realise my flaws and my strengths.

How do you balance your career and personal life?

With sincerity and honesty.

When did you realise you wanted to be an actor?

Ever since I remember. But I did not say it out loud because people didn’t perceive acting as a serious profession. Acting was always a part of me, whenever I used to watch television I used to imitate the actors and in school, I used to mimic my teachers.

Have you grown as an actor? 

Honestly, I didn’t study acting so I do not have theoretical knowledge. I have grown film by film, working with well-qualified people on the set.

Do you aim for popularity or skill as an actor?

Honestly both. I think it is very important for an actor to be popular; it’s the bitter truth of the industry. For example in the case of Bulbul, my reputation did help to create a buzz to some extent.

How prepared are you about the downside of this profession?

Ever since my initial days as an actor, I have faced trolling and gossip about my personal life. Hence now it does not bother me. People have been judging and they might keep judging. Now it has become insignificant to me.

The funniest rumour you have heard about yourself… 

My husband Nischal and I will get divorced soon.

You married Nischal Basnet at a very young age. What made both of you decide?

It was never about the right time, it was about the right person.

You’re one of the few people in the world that gets to see Nischal sans camera, what is he like?

He is very kind and generous. I knew he was the one when I realised he is not only nice to me but to everyone around him. At home, he can be a bit lazy at times (laughs).

Are you possessive about each other?

No, never. We both trust each other and insecurity is the last thing one can expect from both of us.

Do you plan to start a family soon? 

No!

Does the marital status of an actor affect the career?

When I got married, people assumed that I wouldn’t be continuing as an actor. Some even called my husband to reconfirm. I believe it completely depends on the actor herself and not the perception of society. We have the option to either do what we do the best or change our path.

What is the current trend in Nepali cinema?

The trend of creating hype on the basis of an actor’s payment.

Are actors pressured to stay active online?

Not really. There are some amazing actors who are not active online but have an equally great fan base. Personally, I am more active on social media because for me it’s a great platform to connect and interact with my fans.

A life lesson you want to share with your fans…

Keep everyone around you happy. And be confident in yourself.

Definition of love

Love is a priority.

Love: Inspiration or distraction

Love makes you grow. If it’s a distraction then it’s not love.

What have you discovered about yourself …

I am more than what I think I am.

Secret talent…

I love to sing, although I am very bad at it. I used to do good mimicry, but haven’t had any practice in awhile.

The essence of being a woman 

A woman can give life.

Gender stereotype that you want to break…

I think people should not be offended by gender-based terms such as ‘aaimai (woman)’ or ‘actress’ or ‘heroine’. In fact, I think we should cherish it. If guys don’t have problems when they are called ‘ logney manche (man)’, why should we have a problem? I sometimes feel we are creating the gender biases ourselves.

Your biggest strength as a woman 

Being a woman is my strength!

Top three priorities in life 

Family
Career
Myself

Often used word

Obviously

Style mantra 

Be confident in what you are wearing.

One thing people got wrong about you? 

People think that I am very arrogant.