Saurabh Chate: Preserving Marathi Culture in the Heart of Canada

In the heart of Canada, where cultural diversity thrives, there’s a dedicated effort to enrich the lives of the local community by bringing the vibrant and diverse world of Marathi and Hindi arts to the forefront. Avishkar Arts, led by Saurabh Chate, stands as a beacon of this cultural exchange, offering everything from Marathi films to Hindi plays and live musical performances. Saurabh shares his journey, the inspiration behind Avishkar Arts, and the impact of promoting Marathi and Hindi arts in a foreign land.

A Passionate Start
The story of Avishkar Arts begins with a profound passion for Marathi theater and films. Saurabh, hailing from Pune, the cultural heart of Maharashtra, grew up enchanted by the world of theater and cinema. Saurabh says, “When I moved to Canada, I noticed a void in the awareness of Marathi content and a lack of screenings for Marathi movies in local theaters.” Determined to preserve his culture and language, he embarked on a journey that would ultimately lead to the birth of Avishkar Arts. He adds, “My initial concerns about the financial aspects and screening regulations were eased by my wife, Mona, who provided unwavering support. My late mother Aparna and brother Kaustubh have been strong pillars in my journey too. Our collaborative spirit set the stage for what was to come - a vibrant celebration of Marathi culture and heritage in Canada.”

Diversification of Cultural Offerings
Avishkar Arts is not limited to just one form of art; it’s a cultural hub that offers a diverse range of experiences. Saurabh’s decision to diversify into various aspects of arts and culture was a strategic one. He shares, “With over 90% of individuals involved in Marathi films coming from a theatrical background, they possess a unique ability to adapt to different artistic forms. Marathi culture has always embraced literature, stage performances, and films, and Avishkar Arts aims to continue this tradition. Beyond preserving our own cultural heritage, the organization seeks to foster unity within the community and share enriching cultural experiences with Vancouver residents. The commitment to diversify our portfolio is a testament to our dedication to bringing the best of Marathi and Hindi arts to Canada.”

Selection and Audience Response
Selecting the right Marathi films and plays for the Canadian audience is no small feat, but Saurabh’s extensive network within the Marathi film and theater industry provides him with insights into upcoming projects. By understanding the preferences of the local audience and gauging the potential resonance of a particular film or show, Avishkar Arts consistently delivers quality content that garners appreciation. The audience’s unwavering support is a testament to the organization’s success. Their feedback, candidly shared, serves as a valuable learning experience, ensuring continuous improvement.

I am fortunate to have an exceptional Avishkar Arts team and a group of supportive friends who assist us throughout the entire process

Memorable Moments
In the journey of Avishkar Arts, there have been numerous memorable moments that highlight the impact of their efforts. They take pride in being pioneers, bringing Marathi movies to local theaters and organizing professional Marathi drama in Vancouver. “Collaborations with various film festivals have further promoted Marathi cinema. Avishkar Arts’ recognition in the Indian Consulate’s newsletter and appreciation from the Mayor speak to the positive responses they have garnered. Yet, it’s the satisfaction and feedback from the audience that truly make these moments special,” adds Saurabh. 

Marathi and Hindi Arts in a Multicultural Canada
In a multicultural society like Canada, Marathi and Hindi arts contribute to the rich cultural tapestry. While people have access to a variety of cultural experiences through OTT platforms, there remains a strong interest in enjoying content from one’s own cultural background. Indian culture, with its constant diversification and rich content, continues to captivate audiences. Saurabh shares, “Avishkar Arts’ cultural offerings, including musical programs and movies with English subtitles, bridge language barriers and enable a wider audience to partake in and enjoy these cultural experiences. Positive feedback from non-Indian individuals showcases the broad appeal of their offerings.”

Exciting Future Projects
Avishkar Arts has several exciting projects in the pipeline, promising more cultural enrichment for the community. While some projects are yet to be unveiled, they are proud to announce the screening of the Bodo language film ‘Wild Swans’ as part of the Vancouver International Film Festival 2023. Additionally, in honor of Gandhi Jayanti, they will present the Marathi language film ‘Dr. Prakash Baba Amte’ as part of a special occasion in collaboration with other organizations.

Avishkar Arts’ recognition in the Indian Consulate’s newsletter and appreciation from the Mayor speak to the positive responses they have garnered

Challenges and Overcoming Them
Every program Avishkar Arts organizes presents unique challenges, from understanding and adhering to regulations to meticulous planning for stage shows and logistics coordination. He adds, “Challenges are also encountered on the day of the show, including last-minute technical issues. Securing sponsors and reaching a wide audience can be particularly challenging. The preparation of sets and stages for each show poses its own set of challenges, as does the logistics coordination with artists and the meticulous planning for the day of the performance. However, I am fortunate to have an exceptional Avishkar Arts team and a group of supportive friends who assist us throughout the entire process.”

Making connections 
On the experience of working with celebrities and popular personalities from the film industry, he shares, “We make a point to adhere to their specific requirements and ensure they feel comfortable and at ease. Our approach is to treat them as regular individuals outside of the theater, respecting their personal space and privacy. Moreover, many of them have been kind enough to recommend me to others within the industry, and we have gained valuable insights and knowledge from our experiences working alongside these talented individuals.”

Future Aspirations
While Avishkar Arts has a wish list of shows they’d love to bring to Canada, their focus remains on delivering high-quality cultural experiences. They are actively working towards making these aspirations a reality, ensuring that the cultural tapestry of Canada continues to flourish.

Anjali Shetty
Written by

Anjali Shetty

A seasoned journalist with 14 years of experience in the field, I have a diverse portfolio of work, covering a wide range of topics from news and entertainment to food and lifestyle. Navigating the world of parenting now, I am inspired to share my insights and experiences on this beautiful and challenging adventure. Writing about Marathi cinema is a passion of mine, as I find immense joy in unraveling the cultural that this industry offers.