Director: Sandeep Sawant
Genre: Drama, Family
Cast: Arun Nalawade, Ashwin Chitale, Sandeep Kulkarni, Amruta Subhash, Ashwini Giri, Ganesh Manjarekar
It tells us to always keep positive attitude towards life.
Shwaas (The Breath)(Marathi: श्वास) is a Marathi film, released in 2004. The film was India's official entry to the 2004 Oscars and was ranked 6th in the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film category. Its storyline is based on real-life incident in Pune. A low-budget of Indian rupee 30 lakhs (3 million), Shwaas won the National Award for best film in 2004, nearly 50 years since a Marathi film (Shyamchi Aai) last earned this title. Directed by debutant Sandeep Sawant, the film was shot in 30 days at Sindhudurg, Konkan, Pune and at KEM Hospital in Mumbai. The post-production took one and half years to complete. Shwaas was acknowledged as a "significant turn for Marathi cinema" which had been going through a low patch. After the success of the film, it was also released in Hindi, Bengali and Tamil languages.
Vishwanath Nayak, one of the eight producers, a chartered accountant for Arun Nalawade, a Marathi stage actor, suggested him to make a film. Later, Arun came across a story by writer Madhavi Gharpure, published in the Diwali edition of a magazine and thought that it would make a wonderful film storyline. The distribution plan for Shwaas was in place even before production began. In the initial stages, the film was taken to as many villages as the team could manage; marriage halls, school auditoriums and makeshift venues were all used for screening. All this despite the fact that the film has no songs, no heroes, heroines or recognizable stars of Marathi film industry.
- Ashwin Chitale (Parashuram Vichare – the child suffering from retinal cancer)
- Arun Nalavade (Grandfather of Parashuram who takes him to Mumbai)
- Sandeep Kulkarni (Dr. Milind Sane who operates on Parashuram)
- Amruta Subhash (Medical social worker named Asawari – helps grandfather, child and doctor to understand each other)
- Ganesh Manjrekar (Divakar – Parashuram's uncle who accompanies child and grandfather to Mumbai)
- Ashwini Giri (Parashuram's Mother – stays in the village).
An old villager (Vichare) brings his 8 year old grandson Parshuraam (also known as Paarsha) to a doctor in Mumbai to diagnose the child's eyes. They are accompanied by child's maternal uncle Diwarkar. On the first day Vichare is asked to sign usual papers before admission in hospital. Upon asking, he learns that the papers say the doctor would not be responsible if anything goes wrong. Vichare, the rustic grandfather finds these terms unacceptable. A medical social worker named Asawari who is present there, quickly comes in and explains the practice to Vichare. She calms down Vichare and accompanies them during the first appointment with the doctor. Dr. Sane quickly diagnoses child as a victim of the rare retinoblastoma - a rare retinal cancer. After consulting with other colleagues in US and UK doctor finds that only way to save child's life is to perform an operation that will leave the child blind. As per rule, doctor explains this and insists child be informed of this before surgery. He cannot be operated without this knowledge as it was against ethics. Asawari (Amruta Subhash) who helps the doctor in convincing the grandfather and the grandson, tries to keep track of Vichare and persuades him not fall prey to other doctors promising false medicines. She tries to befriend Parshya in order to explain him what is going to happen. However, she finds it is too difficult to explain to him that he will turn blind.
The film then depicts the grandfather's struggle to accept the reality that the only way to save his grandson is at the cost of his eyesight. He tries various ways to come to terms with the situation and his personal agony is shown in scenes, like taking second opinion, explaining his grandson the reality and his desire to show him everything possible before his grandson loses his eyesight. For some reason, the surgery has to be postponed by a day. That afternoon, grandfather and grandson disappear from the hospital ward and a frantic search follows. Confronted by an angry surgeon on their return, the grandfather states quite simply that he wanted to show Parshya the sights of the city for one last time.
The film has been applauded for scenes which depict the difficulty faced by the doctors to explain to grandfather and Parshya that nothing can be done and the truth is but inevitable. It shows the medical fraternity in a very positive light, with the doctors and nurses being extremely supportive and doing the best they can, and helping the village with the best facilities. The last shot where Parshya returns home wearing dark glasses, waving to his family and friends from the boat was widely appreciated by film critics.
This Indian melodrama about a young boy with retinal cancer whose only chance for survival is an operation that will leave him blind is unstintinly sentimental and a bit tedious, but it also has a winning simplicity and some touching moments. The story is a kind that American audiences are accustomed to finding on basic cable television, and there is something strange and oddly gratifyng about seeing it rendered with the luster and grandeur of CinemaScope.—A. O. Scott, The New York Times
The film received 40% positive ratings at Rotten Tomatoes.
The film received numerous awards at both national and state level. It won the Maharashtra State Film Award and then India's highest National Film Award, bringing the coveted Golden Lotus to Marathi cinema for the first time since 1954. Ashwin Chitale won the best child artist award.
Bid for Oscar
The film was India's official entry to the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 77th Academy Awards (the Oscar Awards), 2004. The film faced financial problems to showcase and promote their film at the Oscars. People from all classes came forward with contributions. A school in Jogeshwari organized its children to make lamps and sell them and made a contribution of Rs.30,000. Another group of students wiped and cleaned cars to collect some money. A division of standard 10 students in Nasik collected Rs.10 each and their teacher added some more, and donated Rs.1001. A marathi theatre group that performs the Marathi play Yada Kadachit collected around Rs.65,000. They also approached multinationals and corporate biggies to get sponsorships. Marathi cricketer Sachin Tendulkar held an auction to help raise funds. Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan donated INR 1 lakhs (1,00,000) for Shwaas Oscar bid. Mumbai's Siddhivinayak temple had installed a drop box for people to donate money for Shwaas promotions at Oscars. The government of Goa contributed INR 21 lakhs (2.1 million). Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (India) committed Rs 50,000 and the Government of Maharashtra had given Rs 15 lakh (1.5 million) towards the fund. Even political parties like Shiv Sena helped in the film's promotion. Shwaas team made up of director Sandeep Sawant, marketing manager Anil Bastawade, costume designer and Sawant’s wife Neeraja Patwardhan tried to attract Maharashtrian people in USA before Oscars. They address a crowd of 12,000 members of the Maharashtra Vishwa Parishad in New Jersey while attending the Diwali celebrations in Manhattan. Shwaas was screened 14 times in USA during the pre-Oscar bid. Team also took a three hours road-drive to Atlantic City to meet various Maharashtra Mandals for their support. However, the movie failed at the Oscar and was ranked 6th.
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- ^ PINGLAY, PRACHI (January 15 - 28, 2005). "Beyond applause". Frontline.. www.hinduonnet.com. http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2202/stories/20050128001508700.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-12.
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- ^ "Divine help for 'Shwaas' on Oscar road.". Times of India (Times of India). 17 October 2004. http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-14088515_ITM. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- ^ "'Shwaas' producer gets a cheque". timesofindia. 21 December 2004. http://www1.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/946301.cms. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- ^ "Sena chief hits out at cricketer’s gesture". Newsline. 12 November 2004. http://news.google.com/archivesearch/url?sa=t&ct=res&cd=23-0&url=http%3A%2F%2Fcities.expressindia.com%2Ffullstory.php%3Fnewsid%3D106491&ei=aNhHSIWfHY3eqwOEy-2EBw&usg=AFQjCNFNy3ncFScvngJgYBnBKLZ6CzJ97g. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
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