Marathi actor Akshaya Gurav shines in her debut film, Bittersweet
It rarely happens that one’s debut feature film gets selected for screening at prestigious international films festivals such as the one in Busan. But dreams often do come true and hard work does get recognised at times, feels actor Akshaya Gurav. A household name in Marathi television, Gurav, who has worked in such Marathi teleseries as Mehendichya Panavar, Mansicha Chitrakar, Love Lagna Locha and Radha Prem Rangi Rangli, is debuting on the big screen with Ananth Narayan Mahadevan’s hard-hitting film, Bittersweet.
The film got officially selected for screening at Busan International Film Festival that concludes today. Based on a true story, the film depicts the exploitative conditions under which women work in the sugarcane fields in the Beed district of Maharashtra. Driven by profit, the sugar barons are ruthless towards these women, whose wages are severely deducted if they give work a miss due to menstruation. The poverty runs so deep that in order to safeguard earnings during these six months of harvesting, majority of the women undergo hysterectomy — an expensive medical surgery that removes the womb.
The film tells this traumatising story and harsh rules of the sugar industry through the eyes of Suguna, a 21-year-old girl, played by Akshaya. “It’s a lifetime opportunity that I got at the very beginning of my film career and I am just so happy with the audience and critics' reaction at Busan,” enthuses Akshaya. A short chat with the actor on the same and more. Excerpts:
How was the experience of acting in Bittersweet?
It was a life-changing experience for me. It’s hard to believe that these exploitative practices still exist. When Ananth first narrated the script, I couldn’t hold back my tears and felt morbid for a long time. I went through rigorous training and stayed in one of the villages to experience their lives in order to get into the skin of Suguna.
What are the other projects you are working in?
I am reading two-three Marathi film scripts and I am also in talks for Hindi web films and series. I am being a bit choosy since I have to keep up the quality of work after Bittersweet.
How do you take care of your hair and skin?
I use coconut oil mixed with hibiscus flower on hair. I only use skin products recommended by my dermatologist.
Your fitness and diet regimens.
I start my day with oats, fruits and have eggs before work out. Lunch is usually chapatis, daal and sabzi. My comfort food is rice with ghee. I also love kheer and puran poli made by my mom. Currently, I am taking online sessions on cardio and weight training from my personal trainer.
Beauty essentials in your bag?
Lipsticks and bindi.
A beauty hack?
Aloe vera works wonder for my skin and hair and I use a body scrub made with coffee powder, oil, amla and sugar.
What turns you off?
Health shot you swear by?