As soon as the news of Anant Mahadevan’s ‘Bittersweet’ bagging a nomination for the Jiseok Awards at the prestigious Busan International Film Festival came out Akshaya Gurav’s phone didn’t stop buzzing. Akshaya, who is playing the lead in Marathi film that veers around the lives of female sugarcane cutters in Beed, has been flooded with congratulatory messages and praises from friends, family, colleagues and fans.
Akshaya plays the character of Saguna, who is a young sugarcane cutter and attempts to expose the evil practice of hysterectomy among the women cutters. Interestingly, this film also marks her debut in Marathi cinema. “I had kept both the news about me doing the film and my look under wraps and I think it was worth the wait. However, when news portals reported that the film bagged a nomination at the Busan International Film Festival and my look was revealed, I have been receiving a lot of messages from people saying they couldn’t recognise me in the stills from ‘Bittersweet’. And, I thought it was a huge compliment,” expresses Akshaya.
Akshaya as Saguna in ‘Bittersweet’
For this young lady, who has done Marathi television and has been a part of shows like ‘Mehendichya Panavar,’ ‘Mansicha Chitrakar,’ ‘Love Lagna Locha,’ etc, it is a time of many firsts. She reveals, “Besides the fact that ‘Bittersweet’ is my first feature film, where I’m playing a leading lady, it is for the first time that I’m working with Anant sir (Anant Mahadevan). Also, it is my first film that has bagged a nomination at an international film festival. I simply can’t contain my happiness. It is like a dream come true for any actor. I’m glad that my debut film is getting appreciated on a global platform.”
Playing Saguna, according to Akshaya, has been a huge responsibility as it is based on the life of a real woman and real issues. “I didn’t know if I could pull off this character, but Anant sir showed immense faith in me. It is a story of every woman who has to succumb to injustice, so in a way, I was representing hundreds and thousands of women who have been wronged. Therefore, as an actor, it was a huge responsibility and I hope I have been able to do justice to it. Even if 10 women realise what’s happening with them — sugarcane barons getting them to undergo hysterectomy — is unfair, speak up against it and refuse to let this injustice happen to them, I think it would be the greatest reward for me.”