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At home with Shwaas star Ashwin Chitale
Ganesh Nadar |
November 02, 2004 15:56 IST
It was a crowded Pune street, and the building looked old. On the ground floor, right next to the steps, was a board. On it was chalked, 'Child artiste Ashwin Chitale on the fourth floor.'
The staircase was steep enough to emphasise the lack of an elevator. The one-room flat housed three -- husband, wife and their nine-year-old child, star of the National Award-winning Shwaas, India's entry for the Oscars.
Mischievous as kids of that age are wont to be, Ashwin fielded questions flippantly. When he tired of them, he hopped into the washing machine and closed the door! His father patiently coaxed him, reiterating that a nice uncle had come all the way from Mumbai to see him. He reluctantly emerged from his cosy cave.
Ashwin felt his friends treat him just as they used to before the movie made him a star. He studies in class IV at the nearby Nutan Marathi Vidyalaya. "Next year I will have to shift him to high school, as this school is only till the fourth standard," said his father Milind Chitale, who owns a travel agency. Ashwin, who stands first in his class, attends a Marathi school. His father has no plans of shifting him to an English-medium school.
Shwaas, he acted in stage plays in school and at private events. On a recent Shivratri, the neighbourhood women had gathered a few kids for the evening's entertainment. It was here that Ashwin was noticed by director Sanjay Sawant.
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The boy was among 30 kids selected. They filmed his auditions and selected him after they liked what they saw. Several photo sessions followed.
It took Sawant four months to become close friends with Ashwin. He carefully explained what he wanted the boy to do in the movie.
On the sets, the elders frequently reminded Ashwin that he was missing school and that he should catch up on his lessons when they weren't shooting. Encouraged with chocolates, he would sit down to study.
When he steps out these days, strangers congratulate him. He thanks them with a smile. Ashwin loves the last scene of Shwaas, where everyone claps. Devarai, his other movie in Marathi, is now showing in theaters. He has also acted in five short films.
Chitale hasn't mapped out his child's future or made plans. The boy could act as long as he enjoyed it, he said.
"Main Amitabh Bachchan banoonga!" Ashwin burst out, smiling with determination and confidence.
As I was leaving, his father said, 'Uncle la namaskar kara'. Ashwin touched my feet and sought my blessings. I left him with a hug.