Sonalee Kulkarni was born on May 18, 1988, in the army cantonment of Khadki, near Pune. Her father Manohar Kulkarni is a retired Army doctor with 30 years of career at the Army Medical Center and her mother Savinder, who is of Punjabi descent, was employed for COD at Dehu Road, Pune. Pictures Courtesy/Sonalee's official Instagram account
Sonalee Kulkarni did her schooling at Army School, Kendriya Vidyalaya 1. She graduated from Fergusson College, Pune, where she obtained a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism. Sonalee later did her post-graduation in Mass Communication from the Indira School of Communication.
Sonalee Kulkarni is a trained dancer in Bharatnatyam. She started learning dance at an early age of five.
Sonalee Kulkarni has a younger brother, who owns an event management firm. She was a model prior to entering the showbiz world. Sonalee's flirtation with the camera came alive when she had been approached to essay a small role in a docu-drama.
It was then that Sonalee Kulkarni was offered the part of a Kathak dancer in the Marathi daily soap titled Ha Khel Sanchitacha alongside veteran Marathi actor Vikram Gokhale. While filming for the series, she bagged her first Marathi film Gadhavacha Lagna. She had a cameo in a dance number called Indra Darbari, Nache Sundari.
In 2007, Kedar Shinde's directorial Bakula Namdeo Ghotale marked Sonalee Kulkarni's debut as a lead actress. The film also starred Bharat Jadhav, Siddharth Jadhav, Vijay Chavan, and Kushal Badrike. Sonalee received the award for Best Actress at Zee Gaurav in 2008 and also won the award for Best Actress in a Debut Film at the 45th Maharashtra State Awards the same year.
Sonalee Kulkarni then worked in the films Aba Zindabad (2008), Hai Kai Nai Kai (2009), Samudra (2010), and Sa Sasucha (2010). Sonalee Kulkarni reunited with Siddharth Jadhav in 2010 with Kedar Shinde's Irada Pakka. They played a happily married couple bored with their daily routine and intent on taking an uncharted path in their relationship to spice things up.
Sonalee Kulkarni then starred in Kshanbhar Vishranti, another 2010 venture, alongside Bharat Jadhav, Sachit Patil, who also acted in, wrote and directed the movie, Siddarth Jadhav, Manava Naik and others. It was the story of four young couples, who shared a strong bond of friendship.
Sonalee Kulkarni starred opposite Atul Kulkarni in Ravi Jadhav's 2010 directorial Natarang, which was based on Dr Anand Yadav's novel of the same name. The film went on to become a critical and commercial success and won several awards. She garnered fame for her Lavani dance track, Apsara Aali in the film. Sonalee, who essayed Nayna Kolhapurkarin, the lead dancer in a Tamasha troupe, is now called 'Apsara' of the Marathi film industry.
In 2012, Sonalee Kulkarni played a Marathi Buddhist tribal named Paro, who falls in love with a British Major portrayed by Philip Scott Wallace in art filmmaker Nitin Chandrakant Desai's Ajintha. The movie showcased the historic Ajanta caves and the beautiful scriptures on the walls of the caves depicting the ancient Buddhist culture. It was critically acclaimed.
Sonalee Kulkarni made her Bollywood debut with the 2013 adult comedy Grand Masti, which also starred Riteish Deshmukh, Vivek Oberoi, Aftab Shivdasani, Bruna Abdullah, Karishma Tanna, Kainaat Arora, Maryam Zakaria and Manjari Fadnis. Sonalee played Riteish's on-screen wife in the film. Directed by Indra Kumar, it was the second film in the popular Masti series and received largely negative responses from critics because of its extreme sexual nature, but was a box-office success entering the Rs 100 crore club.
In the same year, she also starred in the Marathi horror-comedy Zapatlela 2, which was a sequel to the 1993 film Zapatlela, starring Laxmikant Berde. It was also the first Marathi film shot entirely with a 3D camera. It also starred Adinath Kothare, Dilip Prabhavalkar, Sai Tamhankar and others.
Sonalee Kulkarni had a small cameo role in the 2014 Bollywood film Singham Returns, which starred Ajay Devgn reprising his role as Singham from the first film and Kareena Kapoor Khan. It was directed by Rohit Shetty and produced by Devgn.
Sonalee Kulkarni then starred in the 2015 film Classmates, which was an official remake of the 2006 Malayalam film of the same name and was set in the year 1995. Other cast members were Ankush Choudhary, Sai Tamhankar, Sachit Patil and Siddharth Chandekar. It opened to positive reviews and was declared a super hit.
In the same year, Sonalee Kulkarni shared the screen with Marathi superstar Swwapnil Joshi for the first time in Mitwaa. The film also starred Prarthana Behere, who gained popularity for her role as Vaishali Dharmesh-Jaipurwala in the popular TV soap Pavitra Rishta. It was a box-office hit running for more than 25 weeks across Maharashtra. The soundtrack was also popular with fans.
Sonalee Kulkarni worked opposite Sachin Khedekar in the film Shutter, which was an adaptation of the 2012 Malayalam film of the same title. She essayed a nameless hooker and received appreciation for her performance. It also starred Prakash Bare and Amey Wagh.
Sonalee Kulkarni made a special appearance in the 2015 comedy Timepass 2, which was the sequel to the 2014 film Timepass. It marked Ravi Jadhav's fifth outing as director and starred Priyadarshan Jadhav and Priya Bapat in lead roles and received positive reviews.
Sonalee Kulkarni essayed Rupali Thorat, a strongwilled and progressive woman in the 2016 social comedy Poshter Girl, which also starred Jitendra Joshi, Hrishikesh Joshi, Aniket Vishwasrao, Hemant Dhome and others. Interestingly, co-star Jitendra had a small role as Sonalee's on-screen boyfriend in Singham Returns.
Sonalee Kulkarni made a cameo in the 2017 political comedy-drama Baghtos Kay Mujra Kar, which starred Jitendra Joshi, Aniket Vishwasrao and Akshay Tanksale in lead roles. It received rave reviews from critics.
Sonalee Kulkarni and Subodh Bhave worked together as a lead pair for the first time in Tula Kalnnaar Nahi (2017). Directed by Swapna Waghmare-Joshi is also starred Neetha Shetty, Sushant Shelar and Rasika Dhabadgaokar, Sangram Salvi and Uday Tikekar in guest appearances. She was later seen in Hampi, which starred Lalit Prabhakar.