USHA Jadhav was about 12 years old when she won her first award for acting at a school competition in her hometown,Kolhapur. The joy of bringing a role to life and the recognition that followed convinced her that acting was her calling. Today,the 30-year-old is the winner of the 60th National Award for best female actor for her role in the Marathi film Dhag. What made the award more special was that she had won it over several of her Bollywood favourites Vidya Balan,Priyanka Chopra and Sridevi. I was in Pune that day and when I heard the news,I asked my brother to switch on the TV and see if it was really true, she says.
Ever since,her phone hasnt stopped ringing and congratulatory messages are pouring in. Filmmakers,too,are queuing up outside her Pune home with offers.
Dhag is the story of a young boy wanting to break the successions of traditional jobs in his low caste family. Jadhav,plays the role of a supportive mother.
For Jadhav,acting was a dream she wanted to pursue,but it was easier said than done. I come from a very simple family in Kolhapur and,in those days,acting as a career was unheard of. I had always dreamed of acting but could never tell my parents or my friends, she says.
During her early years,she worked as an air-ticketing agent in Mumbai for three years in order to support her family. She would be involved in her day job through the week and then audition for parts on the weekend. This is how she bagged the role of a gajrewali in Traffic Signal,and a small part in Striker. In those days,commercials were also a big part of my life. They gave me visibility,but more importantly,helped me earn more money, she says.
The cameos she did in films and the commercials on TV,were eventually responsible in getting her the movies. When director Shivaji Lotan Patils friend saw my work and recommended me for the role,Shivaji called me to discuss the movie. He had seen my work too and was confident of my abilities, she says.
After a decade-long struggle,Jadhav finally got the role of a lifetime without a single audition. With this,I hope my career will change, she says.