Shwaas – Breath (श्वास) – Marathi Movie -With English Subtitles, released in 2004. The film was India’s official entry to the 2004 Oscars and was ranked 6th in the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film category. Its storyline is based on real-life incident in Pune. A low-budget of Indian rupee 30 lakhs (3 million),Shwaas won the National Award for best film in 2004, nearly 50 years since a Marathi film – Shyamchi Aai last earned this title. Directed by debutant Sandeep Sawant, Starring: Arun Nalawade, Child Artist Ashwin Chitale, Sandeep Kulkarni, Amruta Subhash, Music by Bhaskar Chandavarkar the film was shot in 30 days at Sindhudurg, Konkan, Pune and at KEM Hospital in Mumbai. The post-production took one and half years to complete. Shwaas was acknowledged as a “significant turn for Marathi cinema” which had been going through a low patch. After the success of the film, it was also released in Hindi, Bengali and Tamil languages.
Synopsis – An old villager — Vichare (Arun Nalawade) brings his 8 year old grandson Parshuraam (Ashwin Chitale) also known as Paarsha to a doctor in Mumbai to diagnose the child’s eyes. On the first day Vichare is asked to sign usual papers before admission in hospital. Upon asking, he learns that the papers say the doctor would not be responsible if anything goes wrong. Vichare, the rustic grandfather finds these terms unacceptable. A medical social worker named Asawari (Amruta Subhash) who is present there, quickly comes in and explains the practice to Vichare. She calms down Vichare and accompanies them during the first appointment with the doctor. Dr. Sane (Sandeep Kulkarni) quickly diagnoses child as a victim of the rare retinoblastoma – a rare retinal cancer. After consulting with other colleagues in US and UK doctor finds that only way to save child’s life is to perform an operation that will leave the child blind. He cannot be operated without this knowledge as it was against ethics. Asawari who helps the doctor in convincing the grandfather and the grandson, tries to keep track of Vichare and persuades him not fall prey to other doctors promising false medicines. She tries to befriend Parshya in order to explain him what is going to happen. However, she finds it is too difficult to explain to him that he will turn blind.
The film then depicts the grandfather’s struggle to accept the reality that the only way to save his grandson is at the cost of his eyesight. The film has been applauded for scenes which depict the difficulty faced by the doctors to explain to grandfather and Parshya that nothing can be done and the truth is but inevitable. It shows the medical fraternity in a very positive light, with the doctors and nurses being extremely supportive and doing the best they can, and helping the village with the best facilities. The last shot where Parshya returns home wearing dark glasses, waving to his family and friends from the boat was widely appreciated by film critics.