Ashwini Bhave Wins Screen Award

Special to India-West

MUMBAI — Marathi and Hindi film actor Ashwini Bhave resides in Hillsborough, Calif., the upmarket abode of Silicon Valley's celebrities. But as of now, her address is the seventh heaven of delight, for the lady is ecstatic about winning the Screen Award for Best Actor (Female) in Marathi cinema for her maiden production as well as comeback film, "Kadaachit."

Speaking to India-West by phone from her home, she said, "I am really honored because Screen is very close to my heart and is hugely respected as the industry's paper. Besides, this is a jury award. This is my comeback to cinema after 10 years and my debut as a producer and I am very thrilled that everyone has loved the film."

Ashwini Bhave's last release was "Yugpurush" in 1998.

She married Kishore Bopardikar, founder and president of the software company Calypso, and settled in California. Now a mother of a son, 5, and daughter, 4, she came back after a decade.

Bhave is also making her debut as producer with the Marathi psychological thriller, "Kadaachit" — the title means "possibly" or "maybe" — which has garnered high critical acclaim and is also doing well commercially all over Maharashtra.

"I had time on my hands and I wanted to utilize it, so I made the film," said Bhave. "I have always kept myself updated with what was happening in the Hindi and Marathi film industries, and let me tell you that my almost exclusive connection with them was the extensive entertainment section of India-West!"

Even during her absence from the studios, Ashwini did not severe personal connection with the arts. She enrolled at the Academy of Art University's BFA program in San Francisco, becoming a student of cinema all over again, and graduated in 2002.

"Kadaachit" goes beyond a psychological thriller into a deeper dimension. "My film is about the perception of truth," Bhave explained. "People have different perceptions of various things, but the truth is often different from what they perceive. My film may be different, but it is gripping to the last frame and entertaining as well — from start to finish.

"I must tell you about the uneducated old woman who sat next to us when my director Chandrakant Kulkarni and I quietly watched the film along with the audience. She had no teeth and wore thick spectacles, but she was enjoying throughout and giving all the right reactions to the humor, drama, sad scenes and so on. We as filmmakers often underestimate the audience, which is very intelligent and receptive to any good entertainment."

"Kadaachit" co-stars Sachin Khedekar, who has also clinched the Screen Best Actor Award for the same film. "Another highlight of the film is Sadashiv Amrapurkar in an image-breaking role," says the actor-producer who is thrilled with her role too. "I have never done something like this in any of the 40 films in which I have acted."

"Kadaachit" is technically savvy, like all Marathi films nowadays, and director Kulkarni is the man who gave Marathi films its turnaround movie "Bindhaast" in 1999. "Bindhaast," a whodunit, was Marathi cinema's first film in Cinemascope and had three female leads. Its denouement formed the blueprint for the plotline of Priyadarshan's 2006 success "Bhagam Bhag."

How did the film happen? "Chandrakant told me about this story written 15 years ago by the famous Marathi playwright Girish Joshi. It had never been staged, and I fell in love with it. We decided spontaneously to make the film, and production was an enthralling process though it had its moments of stress!" said Bhave.

The actress and producer, whose most famous Hindi film is "Henna," now awaits a good script before she makes her next movie in both capacities. Tentatively, "Kadaachit" is expected to release in the U.S. in February.

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