Roshan Bhondekar, Tumsar village, Bhandara District, Maharashtra — this is exactly how letters, if any, would be addressed to this ‘simple village boy’ a decade ago. From his 300-sq feet home that housed six people to a plush new address in Spain, Bhondekar has made it big and how.
The how is where this man’s entire story lies. Now an author of two successful books, director of two award-winning short films and a writer, Bhondekar is an engineer by profession.
His latest movie The Shoes, shot completely in Spain, recently won the Accolade Global Film Competition Award in the United States. It was also selected at the FPP Financial Focus FilmFest, Florida and at the Mediterranean Film Festival Cannes, France. The movie that revolves around a child’s right to a dignified life comes from Bhondekar’s own writing.
“Belonging to a poor family, as kids, we would struggle for two square meals and that has been my strongest trigger in life,” says the 34-year-old who lived in his Tumsar home up to the age of 26.
“As the eldest son, it hurt me that my family had such a hand-to-mouth existence. I managed to secure an admission in government polytechnic college in Karad but I was not so great at academics, particularly English. I would barely pass every class up to Class X,” recalls Bhondekar. But he says that failure has been his biggest inspiration. “I completed my engineering and secured a job in Chennai in 2019 and bought a new house in Tumsar for my family,” says Bhondekar who soon moved to Pune and his graph has “only gone up” ever since.
Penning his struggle
He wrote a book called Love - the key to optimism which was released in 132 countries in 2015 and recognised by US author John C Maxwell. “I donate 50 per cent of the royalty that I received from this book to social institutes — orphanages, women’s homes etc,” says Bhondekar for whom writing had just about begun.
He couldn’t stop penning down his stories and ideas and went on to write another book in 2019. It was called The Frame - An art of optimism.
These books, Bhondekar says, gave him the much-needed confidence he had always lacked as a child. Apart from the two books he published, he continues to write for a few blogs and websites and “loves to talk about people who have struggled.”
Speaking of struggle, Bhondekar tells us about his first film Hausla and Raste (Path and Passion) that he made in 2017. It was a film about farmer suicides and the struggles of their family and children. “We have shown a story of hope. We have also touched upon women empowerment, gender equality and the issue of dowry in the movie,” he explains.
That movie fetched him more than eight awards from across the world, one of it being a first-time filmmaker award at a festival in Cannes. “Without absolutely any connection in Bollywood, I managed to direct a film. My first movie wasn’t really up to the mark but we managed fine. That’s what inspired us to make the latest one The Shoes,” he says and proudly adds that it was officially broadcast on Spanish state TV too.
Social responsibility paramount
For Bhondekar, it is important to touch lives. “Our aim is to create social awareness and we have around seven to eight projects in the pipeline in that direction. All of these are non-commercial projects,” says the filmmaker whose turning point in life was a chance meeting with director Subhash Ghai in 2014.
“I had registered as a member of the Script Writers Association of India and attended one of their workshops in Ahmedabad. Renowned film writer Anjum Rajabali was the lead trainer at the workshop and I wanted to learn how to write a movie. Subhash Ghai graced our workshop on the last day when I gave him my book and told him about my passion for movie making,” narrates Bhondekar who was given a golden piece of advice by Ghai then. ‘To make a great film, you don’t need support, you need an idea,’ Subhash had told Bhondekar and that’s what has stuck with the ‘village boy’ ever since.
He makes his films through his personal investment and some help from well-wishers, he says.
Journey to Spain
How did Spain happen, we ask him. “I made a friend in 2015 when I was looking to translate my first book into different foreign languages. That’s when I met Sahra Ardah from Spain,” says Bhondekar, adding, “She is a PhD holder and an author herself. We managed to become really good friends over our translation project.”
Ardah visited India in 2017 and Bhondekar got engaged to the Spanish woman in 2018 and moved to Spain that very year.