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Maharashtrians across America to go Jai Shwaas

Lalitha Suhasini

Posted: Nov 21, 2004 at 0210 hrs IST

The Shwaas team has lined up 14 screenings and one awards function two days after landing in New York.

It's 2.00 am in New York. The Shwaas team comprising director Sandeep Sawant, marketing manager Anil Bastawade, costume designer and Sawant’s wife Neeraja Patwardhan are trying to catch some shut eye at a hotel in Queens.

‘‘It looks very positive, no problems,’’ says 40-year-old Bastawade during a telephonic chat on Day 2 of the Oscar rush. He sounds relatively unperturbed by all the brouhaha because he’s been to NY several times, though it’s Sawant’s first trip. ‘‘The biggest challenge is to get Americans to watch our film,’’ says 37-year-old Sawant.

Sawant and his team are making a massive headway into promotions—signing up a PR agency in two days, addressing a crowd of 12,000 members of the Maharashtra Vishwa Parishad in New Jersey and attending their Diwali celebrations in Manhattan.

‘‘Sandeep’s also giving away an award at the Bollywood Awards that will be held at Taj Mahal hotel in Atlantic City on Saturday,’’ says Bastawade, of the event that is expected to draw a crowd of 6,000 people. Sawant will screen a one-minute clip of Shwaas at the awards function. He will also meet with the Maharashtra Mandal of New York at the Diwali blast.

‘‘I know that Shwaas is the official Indian entry and am aware that they have been invited to the Diwali celebrations,’’ confirms Kashinath Masurkar, a committee member of the Maharashtra Mandal of New York and incharge of public relations.

There’s no buzz in NY, which is why the team can’t wait to move to Los Angeles on Monday. All the independent and foreign film makers are trying to float their films around in NY, but there’re no signs of an aggressive campaign for these films yet. ‘‘There are people from 50 countries trying to push their films,’’ offers Bastawade dryly, when asked about D Day pangs.

The euphoria starts once the first of Shwaas’s 14 screenings begin during the second week of December. These screenings will be held across America including two confirmed bookings at NY, two at San Francisco, one in LA and another in Chicago.

Incidentally, Lagaan managed six American screenings in all. Bastawade suddenly perks up when he adds, ‘‘This is the first time that Shwaas will be screened at an arthouse theatre in Manhattan.’’

There are miles to go the next day. The team is yet to dip into its Oscar funds, the funds are still flowing in—the film last received a sum of Rs 1,01,000 from the Indian Merchants Chamber, Mumbai.

The Shwaas team is scheduled to travel for three hours on road to Atlantic City as soon as they wake up to meet various Maharashtra Mandals for support. And yes, the team has all the support from India via email and phone calls that haven’t stopped since their 22-hour flight from Mumbai.

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