Sonali Kulkarni bags Italian award
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Sonali Kulkarni bags Italian award

The Indian actress has won the best actress award at Milan Film Festival for her performance in Fuoco Di Su Me.

india Updated: Apr 11, 2006 12:26 IST

Talented actress Sonali Kulkarni has won the best actress award at the Milan Film Festival for her performance in Italian film Fuoco Di Su Me (Fire At My Heart) and is delighted at the honour.

"I was absolutely unaware and least expecting it. The award was a big surprise. Now I feel proud and happy for myself and our country too," Sonali told a news agency on phone from Mumbai.

Sonali plays a coral picker in Sergio Scapagnini's Fire At My Heart and shared screen space with the legendary Omar Sharif, who won the best actor award for the film at the festival from March 30 to April 10.

"I play Grazeilla, a girl who lives on an island. She is a coral picker and is very passionate and poetic. The director told me he was looking for someone who can look real, transparent, convincing and traditional," she said discussing her role.

"The story is based on a war background. And Italian actor Massimiliano Verresse plays a prince who is fighting a war against 'war' and by accident he comes to my island and falls madly in love with me."

Sonali had earlier worked with Scapagnini in a film called Vrindaavan Film Studio and the director promised to cast her in his next project.

"I took it casually. I took it as a compliment and forgot about it. But I was really surprised when he called me for a screen test for the film. When I went there (Italy) -- I was not ready for it and kept suggesting to him -- 'Why don't you take the No 3 or No 7 girl for the role!' After the audition when they told me I was selected... the news was so special..."

Sonali also learnt the language to make her portrayal of an Italian girl look real.

"I went through a very painful time. I was speaking a language which was completely alien to me -- it was nowhere near to English or Hindi or Marathi... but I gave my 100 per cent to it. And thanks to my director for giving me two tutors. They taught me a lot and thanks to my patience as well. It was an eight weeks training session and after the first week I started feeling comfortable with the language."

The film was premiered at the Venice Film Festival and Sonali walked the red carpet with Sharif.

The actress, who hasn't signed any international project after her Italian film, said: "After Fire At My Heart they have honoured me as an international ambassador of coral."

Very few know that Sonali loves writing short stories and poems, and these days she is writing a column for the Indian Express group's Marathi daily Loksatta.

"The column is called Sokool. It's a short form of my name. I told them that my column should reflect my personality as young and vibrant and that's why I chose this name.

"It has given me different dimensions to express myself. I write about things that touch me. And it has got a lot of attention."

Talking about her Bollywood films she said: "Right now I am riding high on Taxi No 9211's success. I was not expecting people to notice me. I am not underestimating myself but with Nana Patekar and John Abraham in the film, I didn't think anybody would bother to talk about me. But I am very happy that they did."

She has quite a few prestigious projects in her kitty including Kaaran.

"Kaaran is about a village girl who is sold and the emotional turmoil she goes through. The interesting part is that the director has yet to cast the male lead for the film."

Kaaran also has Deepti Naval and Seema Biswas in important roles.

Sonali is also working on eminent painter MF Husain's next project, an autobiographical film, and also a Marathi venture.

First Published: Apr 11, 2006 10:47 IST