A new worldhttps://indianexpress.com/article/entertainment/screen/a-new-world/

A new world

After earning accolades for her debut Marathi film, Usha Jadhav talks about taking the big leap and entering Bollywood with a full fledged role in Bhoothnath Returns

Usha Jadhav
Usha Jadhav

Launch vehicle: 

In Bhoothnath Returns, I play Meena, a widow and single mother, who lives in a modest house with her only son, Akhrot (Parth Bhalerao). She is a sweet lady who is extremely possessive about her son and shares a beautiful relationship with him. I keep warning Akhrot to avoid interacting with Bhoothnath, but he doesn’t pay heed. As a result, we all become a part of the political dilemma that follows.

Casting coup:

I have worked with Nitesh (Tiwari) in the past on two projects. He was the creative head of the ad agency which produced an advertisement for the sixth edition of Kaun Banega Crorepati and later, I had worked on a short film directed by his wife, the story of which was written by Tiwari. So in a way, we knew each other on a professional level. He gave me a call and asked me to meet him in his office, where he told me about the character. I thought Meena’s character was very interesting, so I immediately gave the nod. Working with big banners like T-Series and BR Films and the presence of Mr. Bachchan were enough reasons for me to say yes.

Stepping stone:

I was born in Kolhapur and completed my schooling till standard 12th. I always wanted to be an actress, but never got the right platform to present my skills, apart from the small-time drama competitions in school. Later, I shifted to Pune and due to some family problems, I had to work in a travel firm in order to earn my bread and butter. After working for three to four years, I realised that things were back on track and it is high time I focus on my dreams. That’s when I came down to Mumbai and began looking for opportunities. I used to work in another travel firm near Mahalaxmi and would often visit Famous Studios nearby to understand how things function. One day, I met someone at the then UTV office, who recommended my name to Madhur Bhandarkar and that’s how I bagged a role in Traffic Signal. It was a blink and miss role, so it was okay. It didn’t help me earn any recognition. After that, I auditioned for several advertisements and got chosen to feature in ads of top brands like Head and Shoulders, Tata Docomo among others. It was only last year that I got my first big break in the Marathi film, Dhag and went on to win the National Award for my performance in that film. That’s when I earned a little bit of fame.

First shot

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We had to shoot some important portions for the climax in Mumbai and top it all, it was with Mr. Bachchan. I was very nervous and kept telling myself to calm down. Infact, I kept goofing up with my lines throughout the pre-shoot rehearsals. But, he was very sweet and helped me calm down. Ultimately, we shot scene without any difficulties.

The takeaway

Having a legendary actor like Mr. Bachchan on the sets is like visiting school. I got to learn a lot from him. Right from humility, to being enthusiastic and supporting co-actors, he did it all. Unlike other big celebrities, he doesn’t run to the vanity van every now and then. He likes to spend time with his team and that’s just amazing.

Stumbling blocks

Everything went according to the plan, so I didn’t really face any problem as such. Except for an instance where I had to recite the Hanuman Chalisa really fast. I think that was tough.

Role model

I look upto all the senior actresses, be it Shabana Azmi, Rekha, Smita Patil among others. There is a lot to learn from all of them.

Future projects

I am in talks with some directors for a couple of projects. Hopefully, I will announce something by mid-March.

priya.adivarekar@expressindia.com