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There’s no ‘zanvoy no. 1’ without the ‘sasumai’

Varsha Usgaonkar needs no introduction to the film-loving people of Goa. Despite working in films for over three decades, she had been waiting for the perfect role in a Konkani film to come her way to make her Konkani debut. That’s what happened with ‘Zanvoy No. 1’, directed by Harry Fernandes and starring Goan actors Kevin D’Mello and Prince Jacob. After running successfully in theatres in Mangalore and Mumbai, the film will be screened in Goa.

So what held Varsha back from making her Konkani debut until now? “The kind of roles that I was being offered were one- or two-day roles that didn’t have any substance or presence in the movie. The length can be less but people should remember the role when they walk out of the theatre. Whether the film does well or not is not in our hands but we have to make a good movie and give our best. I didn’t like the roles that were given to me and they were trying to use my name, that’s it.

But I was not ready to do that and I had to say no to many films. Sometimes, because of prior commitments and set dates, you cannot do a particular film. Finally, I was at the right place at the right time when Harry Fernandes of ‘Zanvoy No. 1’ came to me and I had no reason to say no. This was the role I had been waiting for,” explains Varsha, who is down in Goa for the promotion of the film.

Varsha will be playing the role of a mother-in-law to Kevin’s character in this light-hearted comedy. “Comedy is my forte. I have done many comedies in Marathi, though most of my Hindi film roles were serious and emotional. I was yearning to do comedy on screen in Konkani and this was the right thing. This is the tussle between mother-in-law and son-in-law but in a very light way. You don’t have to use logic all the time.

I enjoyed it more especially because it was in my mother tongue, you can add a word here and there and improvise since it is your language. It came very naturally to me. The music is also very foot-tapping. I am constantly listening to the songs. As a member of the audience, I have enjoyed the film and I am sure the Goan audience will enjoy it too.”

The film was released in Mangalore in April and the actors have been touring with the film ever since. “The audience was under the impression that I was Maharashtrian so were surprised to see me in a Konkani film. Learning that I was Goan was a revelation.

“I had a number of Konkani-speaking as well as Kannada-speaking Mangaloreans coming up to me after the film. Through the film, I have been to many places in Karnataka like Udupi, Karkala, Moodbidri, Padubidra, Manipal and Belthangady.

“The film was also released in Kurla in Mumbai and it was fun watching the film with the audience in a multiplex; watching people react at the right time to the punch lines was so satisfying,” she adds. She will be in Goa for at least a week as she wants to interact with the Goan audience. “I want to get their comments and reactions. I am waiting for the results as it is a very important film in my life.

I feel like I have just started today because it Konkani,” she states passionately. Varsha had to put in extra efforts to learn how to speak fluently in Mangalorean Konkani as the film was shot in both dialects. “The film was dubbed in Goan Konkani as well as Mangalorean Konkani. There are also Kannada and Tulu words in Mangalorean Konkani.

I have delivered my own dialogues in both the dialects as that is what the makers of the film wanted. With some artistes, people remember their voice quality so it was challenging. It is become my forte now to learn languages as I have done films in seven languages. I recently did a Rajasthani film called ‘Kangana’; I have done a double role in a Bengali film besides working in Bhojpuri and Telugu films,” says Varsha. Her next releases will be ‘Khushiyan’, a Hindi festival film and Marathi film ‘Annagiri’ with Ashok Saraf, directed by Raju Parsekar. [H]

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