Winning a National Award marks the end of a long struggle and beginning of a successful career for actor Usha Jadhav.
Usha Jadhav was about 12-years-old when she won her first award for acting; an award she won in a school competition in her hometown Kolhapur. The joy of performing and bringing a role to life,the thrill that came with the award and the recognition that followed convinced her right then that this was what she had to do through her life. 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.
Her phone is ringing off the hook there are calls from friends congratulating her and quite a few from filmmakers,who are keen to see Jadhav become a part of their new projects. Fame,glory and recognition,Jadhav seems to have it all now.
But if anything,Jadhav seems a little dazed by her sudden success and as she speaks of her journey,she reveals that in her heart,she is still that girl from Kolhapur who simply finds happiness in acting. I am very happy. It is such huge recognition for my work. Frankly,I was pleasantly surprised, she says. The day the awards were announced,Jadhav was dumbstruck,unable to believe that she had won the award over several of her Bollywood favourites Vidya Balan,Priyanka Chopra and Sridevi. I was in Pune that day and as soon as I heard the news,I asked my brother to switch on his TV and see if it really was true. I just couldnt believe it, she says.
It is fitting that the news of the award reached her while she was in Pune,because it was here that she took her first steps towards films after moving from Kolhapur. 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 I could never tell my parents or friends, she says.
Jadhav decided that the only way to move ahead was to look for a job in another city,where she could earn enough money to help support her family and look for a break into the film industry. She worked as an air-ticketing agent for three years,till she felt she had fulfilled her duty to her family. Then she moved to Mumbai,where she would work at her day job through the week and then audition for parts over the weekends. This is how she got the part of a gajre-wali in Traffic Signal,and then another small part in Striker. In those days,commercials were a big part of my life. They gave me visibility of course,but more importantly,they brought the money home, she says.
And it was these small parts and advertisements that finally brought her the award-winning role. When his friend saw my work and recommended me for the role,the director (Shivaji Lotan Patil) called me to discuss the movie. He had seen my work too and was confident of my abilities, she says. So after a struggle of over a decade,Jadhav finally got the role of a lifetime without a single audition. It has been a long journey of about 10 years,but hopefully,with this my career will change. Already,I am getting a lot of offers,and I am very hopeful, she says.