Coimbatore: Manisha Ram Kelkar was going back to her hotel in Coimbatore after a tiring day of practice last year when she met with a grave road accident. She had just started out in Formula 4 as a professional driver and had a race lined up on the following day. However, fate had something else for the 33-year-old.
In 2018, Kelkar – who has acted in many Marathi films – decided to turn into a Formula 4 driver for the sheer love of the sport. What she did not know that just after a couple of races, the stiffest challenge would be pitted against her – to make a comeback on the track in less than a year's time following the accident.
"I was almost about to die. My small intestine had got ruptured. And if the fluid from the intestine got into the blood, that is instant death. My doctor said you should never go back to racing."
As a Formula 1 fan, Kelkar's enthusiasm led her to believe that she could race on the tracks. Speaking on her journey, she said, "I started last year. It was a talent hunt in which I had excelled. I participated in two races and then I met an accident. Not on the track. I was going back from the tracks after practice to the hotel when it happened. I was bedridden for 3 months."
In less than a year to that day, at the 22nd JK Tyre FMSCI National Racing Championship, she made a comeback to the tracks. But gracing the track again was not an easy task.
"I was not able to sit in the car as this was that painful. If you want something, you get it and I believed in myself that I can again drive. I am back here with Team Avalanche," she said.
Kelkar might be a new name on tracks but she is a famous figure in Marathi cinema and TV. Films, in fact, is in her blood with her father Ram Kelkar being a renowned writer, who wrote films like Ram Lakhan and Khalnayak. Her mother too was an actor.
"I am still an actor. I believe it is one life and I want to do it all. Do what you want to do. I have always loved adventure sports. I like speed. My dad was very fond of cars. I used to sit on his lap and drive. I was fascinated by the F1 races. I used to have this urge for driving and used to tell others just take me to the track, let me drive a lap and I will be happy. Now, I am totally into it and dedicated to it," she explained her entry into the sport.
But despite being a figure in the films and TV, Kelkar realises that she has a lot to achieve on the tracks. "The competition right now is with me. What happened last year and how I made this comeback was important. I want to make progress and improve every year. The other thing is that I want to bring more women in this sport. I am a celebrity and whatever I will say and do, it will be heard. But before that, I need to prove myself here."
Kelkar, who drives for Avalanche Racing, said that shifting gears between acting and racing might not be easy as both are very taxing. However, she finds a way to balance it all.
"It's tough. But the one similar thing between acting and driving a car in a race is teamwork. At a film set, I am nothing without the director, the producer, the co-actors and other people. Here too I am nothing without the team. We discuss things and we try and improve each other," she concludes.
The writer was in Coimbatore on an invitation from JK Tyres
Updated Date: Jul 30, 2019 20:38:06 IST