“After school, I went to J.J. School of Fine Arts. In 5th grade, I had been there for a drawing competition. I clearly remember my father’s words, ‘This is the college you would want to join one day’. Eventually, when I did, on the very first day, our professor asked us, “What do we want to do in life?” Everyone answered. When it was my turn, I answered, “I want my surname, Kavi, to be famous one day.” The whole class split into laughter.
I was very good at mimicry. So, I would mimic all our professors in freetime. When I was in 2nd year, one teacher asked me to perform mimicry at a college function. That was my 1st ever stage performance. Though initially there was ‘stage fear’, I started liking the stage. In 4th year I played a part in a play called ‘Self Portrait’. Which bagged many awards in inter-collegiate competitions. When director Viju Mane saw, he selected me for his play, ‘Bheeti’. It got me 4 awards for acting, that too against some seasoned actors. But even then I had never thought of acting as a career.
After passing out from college, I used to work for a lady in New Bombay. I would paint table tops for 200 rupees each. Since I was a novice, I really didn’t know the worth of my art. Later on I got to know that the lady was selling those tops for thousands of rupees. I guess, that was my first experience with exploitation. I left that job. In 2004, I exhibited my paintings at Tao and Jehangir Art Gallery. I was on could 9 to get an opportunity to showcase my work in such prestigious galleries. But unfortunately, nothing got sold. Later, I exhibited my work in an art gallery near JW Marriott. A gentleman wanted to buy one of my paintings. But he started bargaining. He calculated the cost of canvas, paints and frame and offered me a price, without taking my creativity, my art into consideration. It really hurt me. I wrapped up everything and left for home in an auto. That was the day I said my final ‘Good Bye’ to the field of paintings.
My 2nd career option was of course acting. The awards I had won in college days were enough for me to feel confident about it. But was it easy for me? No. My test wasn’t over. I remember meeting this well known Marathi theatre producer. After talking to me he said ‘There are 3 K’s against you’. I didn’t realise what he meant. Then he said ‘First of all, your surname is KAVI, you are not even a Brahmin, secondly, you live in KALWA and third thing that’s going against you is your colour, you are KALI [dark complexion].’ He said ‘Girls like you should get married and live a normal life. Acting isn’t a career for you’. All through my train journey back home, I kept crying. I thought even this field is not for me.
My mother wasn’t really supportive of all this. According to her girls from acting profession don’t get married. They drink, smoke and towards the end of their career get into depression and die alone. She never used to give me money to attend play rehearsals or go for auditions. Since my college days, I started taking commissioned project of portrait paintings to support my expenses. I guess it taught me to be self reliant.
I didn’t give up. Somewhere I wanted to prove everyone wrong, who were against me. So I continued meeting people and giving auditions.
Those initial days were filled with challenges. For a 6am call time in Madh Island, I had to start at 4:30am from my house. There were also times when I missed the last train home and had to spend the whole night on railway station. But I feel that those initial hurdles helped me be more determined.
Today, after 6 professional plays, 10 odd Tv shows and many nominations and awards, I can say, I have fulfilled my dream of making my surname famous.”