Goa’s emerald eyed ‘Sridevi’

By Prajal Sakhardande
Today, the quiet sleepy village of Usgao in Ponda is identified by this Goan star that once shone brightly on the film horizon.

In the late 80s and 90s, this emerald-eyed Venus of the silver screen was known as the ‘Sridevi’ of Marathi films. Varsha went on to do a number of Marathi blockbusters, beginning with the comedy ‘Gammat Jammat’ in 1987, produced by the noted film` actor Sachin.
She is the daughter of Goa’s first deputy speaker and minister in the Bandodkar cabinet, Atchut Usgaonkar. Varsha is the older of two siblings, Dr Mrs Tosha Kurade and Mrs Manisha Tarcar.
Young Varsha always nursed an ambition to become an actor, perhaps an ambition she unconsciously inherited from her maternal grandfather, Raghuvir Khandeparkar, who was also a dramatic storyteller to the 6-year-old Varsha.
As a student Varsha was shy and introverted. Albeit not very keen on academics, she graduated in Commerce from the Dempo College of Commerce and Economics at Panaji while pursuing a local acting career with the Kala Shuklendu where she did plays such as ‘Mahapur’, ‘Ek Hoti Vaghinn’, ‘Andhar Mazha Sobti’ and ‘Baki Itihaas’ amongst others.
She won many accolades for her performance in ‘Ashrunchi Zali Phule’. Damu Kenkre played a pivotal role in her career. She received a scholarship from the Kala Academy through which she did an acting course at Aurangabad. In Mumbai, ‘Karti Premat Padli’ and ‘Brahmachari’ proved to be a turning point in her life. ‘Brahmachari’ was a play that prompted actor Sachin to be part of the audience. Impressed by Varsha, he offered
her his film ‘Gammat Jammat’, and Varsha Usgaonkar became a name to be reckoned with in Marathi cinema. ‘Gammat Jammat’ was a huge hit.
Varsha revolutionised the look of the Marathi film heroine. She personified glamour and natural acting. She went on to act in several Marathi hits such and emerged the new wonder girl, the glamour queen of Marathi cinema. She was chosen for the prized role of Uttara in the mega hit serial ‘Mahabharat’ and the whole country sat up and took notice of this Goan
girl. Bollywood followed and Varsha became a household name. Her elegant performance as ‘Jhansi ki Rani’ won her acclaim all over the country. People still remember her historical character as Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi.
The actor with a passion and talent for singing released two albums.
Married to Ajay Sharma, she is in the lap of music with the great music director, late Ravi, as her father-in-law.
Varsha believes strongly in discipline, hard work and passion in whatever she does. She feels she has a lot more to achieve as the journey continues…