Sonali Kulkarni is a noted actress in Bollywood and Marathi cinema. She may be famous for playing Saif Ali Khan's girlfriend in Dil Chahta Hai, but Sonali made her acting debut with the Kannada film 'Cheluvi' which was directed by veteran actor-filmmaker Girish Karnad. As Sonali Kulkarni turns 45, we take deep dive into her journey so far! (All pics/Sonali Kulkarni's Instagram account)
Sonali Kulkarni was born on November 3, 1974, to a Maharashtrian father and Tamil mother. She did her schooling from Abhinav Vidyalaya and graduated from Ferguson College, where she majored in Political Science and later got a scholarship in Marathi literature.
Sonali Kulkarni learnt acting from thespian Satyadev Dubey's workshop. She entered Hindi filmdom with Amol Palekar's film 'Daayraa'.
In the beginning of her career, Sonali Kulkarni was told not to audition for a role due to her "dark skin" and the incident left her disheartened, but Sonali Kulkarni says she has now grown confident about herself as an actor as well as an individual.
Sonali Kulkarni essayed the role of Hrithik Roshan's mother in the 2000 film 'Mission: Kashmir.' Sanjay Dutt played her husband in the movie. She was also seen in Urmila Matondkar's Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya.
However, Sonali Kulkarni rose to fame in Bollywood after she starred in the hit 2001 comedy-drama 'Dil Chahta Hai' which starred Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna, Preity Zinta and Dimple Kapadia in lead roles. The song 'Woh Ladki Hai Kaha' with Saif had become famous at the time of its release.
Sonali Kulkarni, who is known for her performance in films like Agni Varsha, Singham, Taxi No. 9211, Well Done Abba, believes observation is the key to make characters look relatable.
Sonali Kulkarni has also worked on many TV shows and also been a part of the dance reality show 'Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa'.
Sonali Kulkarni has also written several newspaper columns. She even formed a theatre group called Samanvay with her brother Sandesh.
Sonali Kulkarni won a Special Jury Award (non-feature) at the 49th National Film Awards ceremony for her work in the Marathi film 'Chaitra' in 2002. She also worked in the Italian film 'Fuoco su di me' for which she won an award at the Milan International Festival in 2006
Sonali believes she has come a long way from being an aspiring young actor, willing to show her versatility, to a mature performer, who does not try too hard to prove herself. "Earlier I wanted to exhibit my capabilities as an actor and show an array of emotions. But today I am not in a hurry to showcase my versatility. I am more confident and easy with myself."
Apart from acting, Sonali Kulkarni was an editor with Viva, a supplement of Marathi daily newspaper Loksatta from June 2005 till May 2007
Sonali Kulkarni used to write a weekly series of columns under the title 'So Kool' which were later published into a book by the same name.
Some of Sonali Kulkarni's famous Marathi films are - Chaitra, Devrai, Restaurant, Sakhi, Vasudev Balwant Phadke, Tya Ratri Paus Hota, Gabhricha Paus, Gandha, Ringa Ringa, Deool, Pune 52, Dr. Prakash Baba Amte, Aga Bai Arechyaa 2, Gulabjaam, and Kachcha Limbu.
Talking about her initial days in career, Sonali Kulkarni had once told mid-day, "There have been people who have told me, 'Why have I come for an audition? You know dark skin doesn't look good on camera'. I was in class 11 at that time and I did not know anything about dark skin. I was busy doing theatre. But that comment created a lot of stir and complex within me."
She further added, "My friend, philosopher and guide Pandit Satyadev Dubey, under whom I was studying theatre for 20 years, had told me 'There is no fear as long as you accept that yourself.' The films have given me enough amount of glamour, accolades, great work and wealth. There is nothing to repent about anything."
The 44-year-old critically-acclaimed actor believes that the dejection she initially faced in her career pushed her to become a better version of herself. "I am thankful to that nasty comment as it made me think about myself, like 'How do I look? Who am I? What is being Indian?'"
"I had thought about these things pretty early in my life, so now I feel powerful about myself, about my beauty and about being Indian. I am proudly a middle-class self-valued person," Sonali Kulkarni added further.
Sonali Kulkarni first married film and theatre director and writer Chandrakant Kulkarni but their marriage ended in a divorce. She then tied the knot with Nachiket Pantvaidya in 2010. Sonali Kulkarni and husband Nachiket Pantvaidya have a daughter Kaveri who turned 7 in October, this year.
We wish Sonali Kulkarni a very happy birthday!
Sonali Kulkarni has not only gained fame in Marathi filmdom but in Bollywood as well with films like 'Dil Chahta Hai' and 'Singham' among others. On her 45th birthday, we trace her journey in films so far
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