She’s the only Indian film personality after Kabir Bedi to become a star in Italy. Her film Fuoco su di Me (Fire on Me), with Omar Sharif, fetched her an award in Milan — where she delivered a thank you speech in fluent Italian.
In a career spanning 15 years, Sonali Kulkarni has done an array of films, yet, has her feet firmly entrenched in the world of experimental theatre. The down-to-earth actress now looks forward to a global career as much as her Grips Theatre play in Pune.
What’re you doing right now?
Now? I’m on my lunch break on the sets of Sirf. It’s only juices, I’ve to lose weight I’d put on for my Marathi film Restaurant, in which I played a chef. It has just completed a 100 dayrun... I’m thrilled.
Why did you have to put on weight?
All chefs aren’t fat. Well, the chef ’s frustrated in this case... so I had to look a little plump and chubby-cheeked, not fat.
What’re you doing in Sirf?
She’s a corporate woman, whom everyone looks up to because her life seems organised. You don’t get to see such women in our films.. it’s shaping up well.
It was quite odd to see you play a Punjabi shrew in I See You.
(Laughs) Some things you do for friends. Arjun and Mehr (Rampal) told me to do it for good luck. It was a funny role, we had a blast shooting in London. I knew I had just one and a half scenes, but they were funny. I’m dying to do a full-fledged comedy.
Do you think Bride and Prejudice did anything for you?
It was an experience of working in an international project. It didn’t open new doors for me. I did that for myself with my Italian film. Bride and Prejudice was a paid holiday in London. They only work on weekdays, on weekends, I saw a whole lot of stage productions from My Fair Lady to Lion King, Bombay Dreams to their local ‘dancicals.’
Then, how has the Italian film helped?
It has created a buzz for me overseas. It’s about to be released in the US. I won an award for it. The Italian government wants me to be their travel ambassador. I’m already their International Ambassador of Coral, which is quite poetic!
Are you interested in more international films then? Have you been offered scripts?
I don’t want to categorise myself, I want to tap the entire world. If opportunity knocks, I want to answer it. I’m meeting and talking to people, scripts will also show up. In the Italian film, I played a typical Neopolitan girl, not an Indian. That has given me the confidence to play any character, anywhere.
Anything exciting here?
Plenty... there’s Vrinda, Take 5, Via Darj, Kaaran, Mohandas and Sirf. Then there’s M F Husain’s The Making of a Painter which I’m excited about.
Anything new on stage?
I’m working on a Grips style play Nakko Re Baba which will open in Mumbai soon and then we will take it to the US as well.
Your brother is planning a film too.
Sandhesh is doing a film and a play. I’m listening to his ideas and helping him backstage.
Anything else we should know about you?
I’m writing a weekly column for a Marathi paper... that gives me such high. I write on anything, like the Bombay train blasts, Kuljeet Randhawa’s suicide or the piece I wrote for the new year which was highly appreciated.
You also seem to have become the face of the New Maharashtrian woman. What do you make of that?
That’s a compliment and a responsibility. It’s wonderful to be a role model for what I’m doing in the creative sphere and not for something stupid like the clothes I wear.