Socialite Chhaya Momaya's driver competes with Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana
Socialite Chhaya Momaya's chauffeur shares Best Actor nod alongside Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurrana, at Melbourne fest, for an act in Namdev Bhau
Since its world premiere at Busan International Film Festival last October, Namdev Bhau: In Search of Silence has won acclaim across several prestigious festivals, with unanimous praise for its leading man Namdev Gaurav. Few know that Gaurav has been a long-standing chauffeur of socialite Chhaya Momaya. In an example of how talent always finds its due recognition, the 65-year-old artiste has earned a Best Actor nomination at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne. The driver-turned-actor is competing with megastar Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana, among others, for the nod.
Dheer Momaya, Chhaya's son and the film's producer, credits director Dar Gai for recognising the artiste in Gaurav. "Namdev used to drive my parents around for 25 years. After spending a few days with him, Dar was convinced he had cinematic appeal," he says. The meditative film revolves around the eponymous character, who, tired of the chaotic noise in Mumbai, travels to Silent Valley in Ladakh in search of calm. While Dheer had some reservation about the chauffeur's acting abilities, his fears were soon quelled. "His face can express the subtlest of emotions. It took a few weeks of rigorous workshops before he was ready." Gaurav's life has witnessed a turnaround since his on-screen outing. "He has got casting calls from Dharma [Productions] and [erstwhile] Phantom Films, asking him to audition for character roles."
Talking to mid-day from Stuttgart where his film has been nominated, Gaurav says, "If we win tonight, we will celebrate with some Maharashtrian jhinga and drinks. I had never travelled outside Maharashtra; now, I have been to various countries. I am living a life I had never dreamt of."
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