A story of courage

A story of courage

Faith, hope, courage, determination, optimism, kindness, love and many such qualities put together are at core of the human spirit. The now-famous Marathi film Shwaas is based on a true story of human spirit. Shwaas won the Swarna Kamal for the best feature film of 2003 at the 51st National Film Awards held at New Delhi last month. Child actor Ashwin Chitale, who plays little Parshuram afflicted with Retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the eyes, won the award for best child performance.

What’s fascinating is that the making of the film itself reflects the triumph of the human spirit. This is what we concluded when we heard Arun Nalawade, the actor-producer of the film, spoke about the way he and his colleagues went about producing this film.

Nalawade was in the city for a felicitation programme organised by the Sarawati Mandir Trust’s pre-primary section in Naupada, which is celebrating it golden jubilee year. Incidentally, it was fifty years ago, that a Marathi Film titled Shyamchi Aai won the first National Award in best feature film category.

The felicitation programme was held at Malhar Cinema at 8.30 am of Sunday, September 12. Senior Trustee S D Ghatpande honoured Nalawade after which a special screening was organised for the school’s students. After the honours, Nalawade revealed the story behind the making of his best-seller which was produced by seven individuals on a cooperative basis. The script of the film is based on a six-month long research conducted by interviewing a leading eye surgeon from Pune, Dr Shailesh Puntambekar, from whose professional life the story was inspired. Making a song-less movie with a modest budget, and a plot sans the usual melodramatic hero-heroine fare, requires courage. Plus the movie was filmed in Marathi, which meant restricted audiences. In spite of this, the movie has done extremely well and has completed 100 days. The national award only proves the core message of the film: Never give up on life, no matter what.   Nalawade also spoke about the intricacies of working with a child actor, who had to portray the difficult character of Parshuram. "The hospital scenes, especially the overwhelming medical scanning equipment, would intimidate Ashwin and it required a lot of cajoling and encouragement to get him to do the scenes," said Nalawade.

Speaking about the idea of a special screening of his film for school students, Nalawade said he was touched: "This is the first time Shwaas is being screened for school students ever since it hit the theatres in March 2004." And he said it made a lot of sense too, because children were the real target audience for the film. The story highlights the predicament of a man who is faced with a situation where is beloved grandchild is about to lose his eyesight. He wants is grandchild to make the most of the time left to see the world in all its vibrant colours.

The bookings for the special screening for students opened on Friday morning and sold out within two hours. But happily, students who missed this opportunity can still watch it if they want. Going by the demand for the film, the school management has decided to hold two more special screening at discounted rates – one on September 26 and another on October 3. Rohini Rasal, principal of the pre-primary sections said, "A nine-year old came to book tickets with her grandfather. She said she would like to see the movie with him. Another student said she would love to see it again and again." In reaching out to the children’s hearts and touching a chord in them, Shwaas has proved true its own message – that human spirit always prevails.

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