Danuska Da Gama
Jyoti Bagkar was always interested in extra-curricular activities as a child and waited for opportunities and chances to come by. “In those days we did not have the exposure and opportunities as today’s children. Bal Bhavan began in Goa when I was in Class 8 but a centre only opened up in Vasco when I was in Class 10,” says Bagkar. As no student of Class 10 was allowed to participate in extra-curricular activities, Bagkar could not avail of this opportunity but she would try to assist other children and people involved in the programmes, in the green room behind.
Soon, she managed to get entry onto the stage. “My first role was as an actor for a one-act play ‘Kumpanach Shet Khau Lagle Tar’ somewhere in the year 1991. And that’s how my journey in theatre began and continues till date,” says Bagkar, who joined Kala Academy after completing her higher secondary education to pursue a degree from the School of Drama.
“I didn’t restrict myself to plays only of Kala Academy, but would act in other shows, and also took some interest in lights,” says Bagkar, adding that she did whatever she could as her financial backing wasn’t good enough, and at that time, there wasn’t much support for youngsters who wanted to make a career in theatre.
And now at 43, she is ecstatic about her first role as Gokulya in the film ‘Kaajro’ which was selected for the MAMI 21st Mumbai Film Festival, Mumbai that was held from October 17 to 24, 2019. Currently working as a theatre teacher in the Directorate of Art and Culture teaching school students the nuances of acting and dramatics, Bagkar tells us that she was approached for the role by producer Rajesh Pednekar. “With Rajesh being a senior to us and always known for fine performances, I felt lucky to be offered this character role of Gokulya,” she says.
However, the challenge arose when she was informed that she would have to lose weight for the role. “I had to be a maximum of 45 kilograms for the role. Thus for a month I did everything from gym training to dieting,” she says. From 55 kilograms, Bagkar managed to come down to 50. But could not manage to lose any more weight. She thus suggested that Pednekar drop her from the role. “But he was kind not to allow me to leave the role. Before shooting commenced, when we had a meeting with the director Nitin Bhaskar, he told me to consume only green salad and thus my weight dropped to 46 on the day shooting commenced,” she narrates.
The character of Gokulya was one of self-respect. Belonging to a community of untouchables, her health is
Sharing a few more details about the character she reveals: “Gokula is aware of her deteriorating health condition and with few days left still has lots of unfinished work. She has also kept safe a coin passed on by her grandmother and then mother considering it to be gold and being useful some day.”
“The underlying message that Gokulya gives to her husband and to the audience is to never stay in the debt of people,” she says, adding that it wasn’t challenging for her to act dead in the film even though water was thrown on her and she had to remain still.
As the film was shot in one go, she was happy to be part of it for the 20 odd days. “It’s my first film, and the first uncut film,” she says happily, adding that when she saw the final outcome on screen in Mumbai, she realised her potential that was brought out so well on screen through the support of the director and producers and other cast and crew of the film. “Everything looked so real,” she says.
In fact ‘Kaajro’ has been compared to ‘Paltadcho Munis’ directed by Laxmikant Shetgaonkar.
While her family is rooted in art, she believes that sacrifices are requires to pursue an interest and even though she is happy with the outcome of the film, getting into the film industry is not the only wish on her mind now.
“Instead of just getting roles, I want to get good work as I want to help bring up the standard of films,” says Bagkar, while crediting her husband Jayesh Bagkar and family for the support and sacrifices made to allow her to act in this movie and stay away from the family for eight days at a stretch in Valpoi during the shoot.