Chicago, Jan 26: Satyajit Kharkar grew up in Aurangabad in Maharashtra and moved to the United States in 2001. A chemical engineer by training, he now works as a software engineer in Illinois state. But his passion is cinema, to which he has taken a circuitous route -via Marathi theater in Aurangabad and English theatre in Chicago.
He got a break when he was chosen to play a Russian character in the play, 'Intelligent design of Jenny Chow' staged at a community theater in a Chicago suburb. Three years later he was the assistant director for the theater adaptation of the popular television series 'M*A*S*H.
Kharkar has had no formal training in cinema. "But my stint in the theater groomed me for cinema," he told Hi India, an Indian American newspaper published here.
His films have been steadily winning an audience, and critical acclaim. 'Drive while texting' a short film he co-wrote, directed and produced is available on You Tube. He said that after watching a public screening of the film, several teen drivers took a pledge not to text while driving. Another two minute film "My dad, my hero" won two awards at the 2011 Life Fest Film Festival in Los Angeles.
"Welcome to Chicago' was made for an Indian community convention held in Chicago in 2011. Kharkar got together 40 amateur artists ranging from seven to seventy years of age. "Nina's wish" is a ten minute short about a nine year old and her Christmas wish about her grandmother's health.
"A reason to live" is a 31-minute documentary about a young poet who has won an Indian award for his creativity despite suffering from cerebral palsy. Kharkar said this film could quite possibly be the first Marathi documentary produced in the United States.
In 2012, Kharkar produced and directed "Coin Toss" a 97-minute film which has shown at the 11th Route 66 International Film Festival in Springfield, Illinois. DVDs of the film are available from Amazon and it will also be available shortly from I Tunes, he said.
His next film is "Chicago wedding', which Kharkar calls a comedy revolving around an Indian American marriage. He is in the process of casting for the film and hopes to have it released by September next year.
Like anyone who has had the opportunity to live a passion, Kharkar is gratified at what he has achieved so far. "Cinema, for me, is a self- taught art," he said, "although my background in theater has helped a lot." As one who grew up in a small town, he also has a sense of fulfillment that he is experimenting in a language far removed from his native tongue.
"English is not my first language. But the language of cinema is universal and it can transcend all provincial barriers, " he said.