In Ali Abbas Zafar’s latest release Bharat, Sonali Kulkarni is cast as Salman Khan’s mother despite the fact that she is nine years younger than him. However, this isn’t the first time Sonali has seemed way too young to get cast as a mother. In 2000 film Mission Kashmir, she played mom to Hrithik Roshan, who is a year older to her.
Shortly after the debut of Bharat in theatres, many criticised Bollywood for its sexism and ageism against older actresses, saying it’s a problem their male counterparts rarely have to face.
In an interview with us, Sonali has opened up about her initial apprehensions on taking on the role of Salman’s mother, how Ali came to her rescue, and whether at all or not she was scared of getting typecast in such roles.
“When I was offered Bharat, I was quite unsure that whether or not I’d be able to pull off this character gracefully. But all my queries were put at rest when I got to meet my director Ali Abbas Zafar. Ali was very sure about it because the mother was to be seen with younger as well as older version of Bharat (played by Salman). So he needed one person who could carry it off till the end with both the versions of Bharat,” explains Sonali.
Sonali Kulkarni poses for a selfie on the sets of Bharat.
She continues, “I had never worked with Salman so I was wondering what my look would be, because I don’t dictate my looks. I like to listen to the team and trust their research. So when you have a team that is putting in so much research and heart and a director who is confident and able, as an actor all I could do was pour my passion into the character and that I tried to do.”
In a career spanning over 26 years, Sonali has established herself as one of the most esteemed stars of the Marathi cinema, besides being featured in a number of path-breaking Hindi films like Daayraa, Dil Chahta Hai and Mohandas.
The breadth of diverse roles Sonali has taken on both in Marathi as well as Hindi cinema have pushed the boundaries and broken new ground, and it is exactly why she decided to sign Bharat.
“Of course, I thought of my age. It did cross my mind, but I have been playing variety of characters since the beginning of my career. In my first film, I was a tree. I was never offered a tree’s role ever again (laughs). In Daayraa, I was a boy. Similarly, in Mission Kashmir, I have played a surrogate mother to Hrithik. After that movie, I happened to sign Dil Chahta Hai."
Sonali Kulkarni and Jackie Shroff play Salman Khan's parents in Bharat.
She further says, “We have to trust the filmmakers that we have today in India and the audience as well as critics-- who accepted me with open arms. They never criticised me if I played Sanjay Dutt’s wife and Hrithik’s mother in Mission Kashmir. They (makers) never said, ‘Now, how do we cast her as a leading lady of Dil Chahta Hai?’ Nobody asked me that question. Nobody rejected me. So this faith and the ongoing relationship that I have with makers, audience and critics is only helping me to grow confident and love my profession more and more.”
But once an actor or actress receives a thumbs up for his or her performance, there is always a probability that particular actor or actress is going to get offers in the similar genre.
Sonali says, “I don’t care because I have a variety of projects lined up right now. I don’t see myself playing a typical kind of character in all those films. I will never operate from fear as an actor. I will definitely operate from my fearlessness and my greed toward work. I’m a very hungry actor and I thrive upon different characters. I enjoy decorating my characters with small nuances. I don’t put any method into it.”
Follow @News18Movies for more