VEDASHREE MAHAJAN is too young to understand the importance of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival but is surely aware that the film she stars in as the lead child artiste is doing the rounds of not just Cannes but various film festivals held across the globe.
Eleven-year-old Vedashree is making a debut in the world of films with Marathi film, The Silence, which deals with the subject of child abuse. Based on a true story, the narrative revolves around a little girl growing up in poverty with her father in a village. When he’s unable to take care of her, he sends Chini to her uncle in a nearby town, where life-changing events occur.
Vedashree recently won the Best Child Artiste Award at the Maharashtra State Award. The film also won the Best Indian Film award at the 8th Bengaluru International Film Festival. “Acting interests me a lot and hence, I have been participating in various dramas held not only in my school but also by theatre groups in the city. In 2014, one of my plays was held in Pune, and my performance was witnessed by the assistant director of The Silence. I was contacted later for an audition and was selected,” says Vedashree, who is a student of class 7th at Vikhe Patil Memorial School.
The Silence has also participated in film festivals in Brazil, Czech Republic, Mumbai (MAMI), Delhi and Jaipur. At the Brasilia International Film Festival, ‘The Silence’ was the first Indian film to be screened. Over the next few months, the film will be traveling to Madrid, Singapore and Cameroon. “We have been hearing that the films is being screened at various international film festivals. It feels really good. As a mother, I am anxiously waiting for the film’s release,” says Shruti, Vedashree’s mother. While Shruti is a homeopath, Vedashree’s father is an engineer.
After Vedashree got through the audition, which was held in October 2014, she began shooting for the film in January 2015. “Her scenes were mostly shot in Sangli and got over in almost 10 days. Because her exams were approaching, she would study in-between the shoot. We had taken permission from the school regarding her absence during the shoot. Yet, she did well in her final exams and her teachers are very happy with her performance,” says the proud mother.
Asked if she was apprehensive to allow Vedashree to work in the film based on a theme like child abuse, she says “Absolutely not. In fact, we thought that it’s our social responsibility to represent the pain of a poor girl, as it is based on a true story. Besides, the director had ensured us that it will be represented symbolically on-screen and Vedashree will not be affected emotionally.”
Directed by Gajendra Ahire, the film also stars filmmaker-actor Nagraj Manjule and Kadambari Kadam in significant roles. Besides, it also has National Award-winning actress Anjali Patil, Raghuvir Yadav and television actress Mugdha Chaphekar. While Ashwini Sidwani has written the story, Ahire has penned the dialogues and screenplay of the film.