Swaroopa Ghosh opens up about her relationship with her father
Actress Swaroopa Ghosh says that she has always been very close to her father and he has, in a great way, contributed to her becoming who she is today.“There’s a popular saying that daughters are closer to the Father and I too have always been very close to my father. He was a commercial artist cum painter cum theatre professional. He used to work for J Walter Thompson…which later became Hindustan Thompson! I grew up watching him bent over his drawing board creating numerous designs…sometimes for a print ad, sometimes for poster or banner and sometimes for book covers, fliers etc. He was known for his skill, fast work and cartoon portraits. When not working, he would be in front of his easel painting some portraits, still life or some scenery. I used to be like his shadow, glued to him, observing the brush strokes, mixing of the colours and how it used to make the canvas come alive!
He was very different from the other parents,” she says. He never pushed me but made me aware…of everything around me. Taught me to find beauty in everything. She adds, “I grew up in a very different kind of atmosphere. Every Sunday a group of his friends would drop in and there would be long discussions on painting, politics, theatre. There would be endless cups of tea, snacks and food. As a child, when you are exposed to all these, your choices automatically become different. The school where I used to study, Art and Craft used to be a compulsory subject and we were given homework. My Father would never help us to do the homework by drawing it for us. He would always encourage us to do it ourselves. My brother was good with drawing, so it would be easy for him… but for me it wasn’t… however, he would say ‘Try it, see it and draw what you see,’. He was very particular that we became self-sufficient. The actress adds that she fell in love with art as well as theatre because of him. “He always compared theatre with a moving canvas. He would take us to see various performances and I was totally mesmerised by this world of make believe with it’s music, movement, colours, imagination, grandeur and dreams…It left a huge impact in my mind. Actually, this was also his way of teaching by making us go through the experience… it was quite non formal yet the impact used to be huge and the learning unforgettable. I remember, he would show me different foliage to make me understand the difference between colour, form texture, which gradually helped me to develop a discerning eye and critical thinking. Whatever colour we would see around us, he would make us identify those in his colour palettes. It was a practical way of learning and great fun. Also, while painting, he would always encourage us to use colours freely… not like a miser. He said if you want to paint, make your hands dirty, paint, use those colours,” she says.
She adds, “I grew up in a household where buying clothes was less important than buying books. Going to see an exhibition was more important than going to a party.
To have a good outing meant, watching a play or a film and then discussing it over dinner in a restaurant. Another favourite was to see heritage spots, buildings and
museums. Thanks to my father, these were the kinds of things I grew up with. In a way I am a very outdated person in today’s world.” Talking about how her father was as a person, Swaroopa says, “My father was very simple. I have never seen him looking down at people. If he finds something wrong, he would stand up against it. He was very flamboyant, he used to laugh a lot and always liked to entertain people. Had a tremendous sense of humour. And the best part was he never stopped me from doing anything.
For instance, our house was filled with books and when I was very young, probably in class eight, I read Lady Chatterley’s Lover and my mother caught me. She told my father
expecting he would scold me. My father just asked me, ‘What did you understand ?’ As I answered, ‘I didn’t know’, he explained ‘See that is the thing, you have to understand when to read and what to read.’ He never stopped us from reading anything so that we develop personal choices, and understand the line between good and bad literature.”
She adds, “At every step of our lives he was like that. He never pushed us to do anything but made us aware of the possible consequences which taught us responsibility. He was far ahead of my time as a father. He never differentiated between son and daughter. Whatever my brother was allowed, I was allowed too. But obviously, as a woman in those days he would caution me. He always told me that whatever you do, give it 100% otherwise don’t do it and I follow that till date.”