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'I don't believe in 'would-be' dreams'

Remember Gauri from Dil Chahta Hai? Or Fardeen Khan's wife Geeta in Pyar Tune Kya kiya? Actress Sonali Kulkarni has essayed roles from the frivolous to the serious in most regional languages and has acted in one foreign language film. Priya Rajendran catches up with the actress.

entertainment Updated: Jan 06, 2010 15:01 IST
Priya Rajendran

Sonali KulkarniRemember Gauri from Dil Chahta Hai? Or Fardeen Khan's wife Geeta in Pyar Tune Kya kiya? Actress Sonali Kulkarni has essayed roles from the frivolous to the serious in most regional languages and has acted in one foreign language film.

Priya Rajendran catches up with the actress. She talks about her film Gulabri, which was screened after 16 years, at the first Pravasi Film Festival in the Capital.

So where did it all begin? Your interest in acting.
I started as a kid - used to act in plays during Ganesh Chaturthi and also in my school. I had participated in sports, painting and practically everything, but I guess my first instinct had always been for acting. I thought that I 'had it in me'. When I was in 11th, I realised acting was my calling. I got to work with legendary teachers like Satyadev Dubeyji. He is my teacher. Till date, I am indebted to him for whatever he taught me - acting or life's values.

How did Gulabri happen?
Actually this was my fourth film. My first was a Kannada film with Girish Karnad called Chelluvi, second one was a Tamil film called May Madham for Mani Ratnam, third one being Mukta, a Marathi film with Jabbar Patel and then came Gulabri.

Your experience in Gulabri
I had never travelled to Churu (Rajasthan) before, but I got to learn pottery for Gulabri. I got to portray a wonderful character - a woman who can stand for herself, someone who could recognise her own feelings. She had self-esteem, a deep sense of justice, and I truly admire Gulabri as a character.

Working with Dr Ashok Chakradhar
All credit goes to director Ashok Chakradhar who managed to tap my talent as I was too young to understand the depth of my character. There was no shift system there on the sets. I was a kid 16 years ago and was taken care of like his own daughter. It was the best character I played in the beginning of my career. My Hindi improved because of him too.

Getting into the skin of the characters you have played till now
Every character that I have played, has contributed something to myself too. As an actor, you get to essay different characters and ultimately I know how much enriched I get as a person, at the end of each day.

Actor(s) who have influenced or inspired you
There are so many actors I like and admire. But I am really in love with Aamir Khan. I have seen him evolve from his QSQT days to DCH, Sarfarosh or even Taare Zameen Par. The way he works upon his characters - be it the look in Ghajini, its really wonderful. I love Kareena too.

Talking about the industry and the present scene in Bollywood
Our older generation actors were really good, but the Gen Y actors are really passionate about their work. They are far more professional too, which is truly admirable. I love Aishwarya too as she showed guts to step out of the country and do a Hollywood film. Earlier actresses would not do foreign films, but today the scene has become far more global. I did an Italian movie almost a decade ago, though I may not have registered as boldly at the time.

Themes taken in films these days
I am really liking the way writers are coming up with ideas. In fact we (actors) are here because of them. India is a country where we have a heritage of good actors. I admit that lot of scripts have been inspired by foreign films, yet we still have a rich collection of historical and mythological tales that we can use. These days, Indian directors and script writers are making their statements through films like Dev D, 3 Idiots.

Which character that you have played has touched you the most
It was a Marathi film called Devrai (2004). Seena, an Indian housewife and sister to a schizophrenic brother. Another one is Geeta from Pyar Tune Kya Kiya where I represent today's wife who is open and understanding, giving space to her husband, but who is also getting cornered in the process with the entry of a third woman. This movie was made nearly a decade ago and today, one can see the difference - women are becoming bolder and confident to tell their husbands 'Do not misuse the space given to you'! I hope women become more independent.

Marathi cinema today, versus a decade ago
Marathi film industry is getting more aggressive these days. Some brilliant scripts are coming up. For instance, my upcoming film called Ringa Ringa is quite good. Earlier, it was 'unfashionable' to say 'I am working in a Marathi film'. An actor at that time would say I am going for some shooting. Though I never felt embarassed to say I am doing Marathi films. But things are changing now and Marathi cinema has become far more glamourous.

If you were to come up with a film of your own, then...
I would like to make something like Angoor. But nothing as of now. I would like to stick to acting as of now. Currently, I have written a book called Sokool, which will be released soon.

If not an actor, what would Sonali Kulkarni have been...
I am getting to be what I wanted to be. I don't believe in 'would-be' dreams.

Trivia about Sonali
She has come a long way from her DD telefilm Gulabri days. She first made her appearance on the silver screen with a Kannada movie Cheluvi. She has acted in an Italian film titled Fuoco Si Di Me for which she won an award in the 2006 Milan International Film Festival. She was awarded a Special Jury Award (non-feature film) in the 49th National Film Awards (2001) for her guest appearance in a short film in Marathi called Chaitra.

Apart from acting, this actress dons the hat of an editor with Viva, a supplement of Loksatta, and pens a weekly column called So Kool. She has written a book Sokool, compiling all the columns and articles that she has penned till now. Sonali also showed her dancing skills in Jhalak dikhla Jaa on Sony TV.