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Substance minus sheen

ANUJ KUMAR

With `Dansh' ready for release and `Fire At My Heart' opening at the Venice Film Festival, Sonali Kulkarni is looking forward to a new career high.


Characterisation is something I miss in our industry. SONALI



NO LOOKING BACK Sonali Kulkarni's easy attitude demystifies acting. PHOTO: SANDEEP SAXENA

There have always been actors who don't need a box office stamp to make their presence felt. Sonali Kulkarni belongs to that rare breed of actors.

`Cheluvi,' `Vrindavan Studios,' `Kairee,' `Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar;' Girish Karnad, Lamberto Lambertini, Amol Palekar, Jabbar Patel - in an industry where experimentation is a much abused word, Sonali proved her worth without reaching for the gloss.

With `Dansh,' releasing shortly she believes her resume has got one more addition under the achievement head. Based on the play `Death and the Maiden,' the film set in the aftermath of Mizo accord, captures a woman activist's psyche.

Sonali plays Maria, who believes that the doctor guest in their house raped her during the days of insurgency. "She wants to take revenge but her husband (played by Kay Kay) who is a spokesperson of Mizo National Front tries to convince her that she can't be sure as she was blindfolded and that there is no point in pricking the old wounds, " explains Sonali.

"I am used to playing intense roles. In fact, I find it difficult to emote in those roles where you are just a housewife with no props around. Getting out of Maria was difficult. As a woman she is not ready to forgive but as an activist and wife of the leader she needs to understand the larger picture. A couple of scenes were so sensitive that I still get stirred thinking of them," she elaborates.

Venice calling

That's not all. Sonali is excited about the Italian film `Fuoco Su Di Me' (Fire At My Heart) which is going to be premiered at the Venice Film Festival. Directed by Lambertini, Sonali says the director promised her a role when she did `Vrindavan Studios' with him.

"That was a long time back. I didn't believe he would offer me a lead role in a film with Omar Sharief. He called me to Naples for the audition. Set in the 18th Century, I am playing the daughter of a fisherman who falls in love with a prince. I was supposed to learn Italian. During the screen test when I asked him why don't you take the beautiful Italian girls who are fluent in diction, he replied they don't go with the character. Characterisation is something I miss in our industry."

She has one of the best voices in the industry, which she says she owes to her background in theatre has helped in getting into the character completely. "Even my voice changes accordingly. Dubbing technicians always point out they don't have to put too much effort with me."

And it is not as if she has not had a brush with commercial cinema. Her first mainstream Hindi film was `Mission Kashmir,' she essayed the role of Sanjay Dutt's mother, which she says did not dent her progress as an actress.

"I respected the faith Vinod Chopra showed in my talent. It helped me in establishing myself as an actress and recognition." `Dil Chahta Hai' and `Pyar Tune Kya Kiya' followed and she proved she could carry off glamorous roles too with dignity.

Yet again, she has looked the `other' way from commercial films with `Danav' and `Hanan.' "It was not conscious. I signed a number of films but somehow they didn't work out. I am such an affable person whenever I will meet the mainstream directors I would start getting roles," says Sonali.

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