Interview Marathi

Glad Subodh Bhave and I never worked together before: Sonalee Kulkarni

In an exclusive chat with Cinestaan.com, the actress speaks about Tula Kalnnaar Nahi, her career and how Bhave has been his mentor all these years. 

Keyur Seta

Sonalee Kulkarni has completed 10 years in the Marathi film industry. After becoming a known name through Natrang (2010), she slowly found acceptance among the audience. She was well-appreciated in her last film, Poshter Girl (2016) — a rare Marathi film where the central character was played by a female. But instead of going on a film signing spree post that, she took her own time to sign her next. 

She will now be seen opposite Subodh Bhave in Swapna Waghmare Joshi’s Tula Kalnnaar Nahi. In an exclusive and friendly chat with Cinestaan.com, Kulkarni speaks about the film, her career and how Bhave has always been her mentor. 

How would you describe Tula Kalnnaar Nahi?
Basically, the film is about this couple, Rahul and Anjali and their love story post marriage. It is about the problems faced by today’s couples after marriage with regards to compatibility, understanding and ego issues, habits and complaints. But the film follows a fun format by being a light-hearted romantic comedy. The two of them don’t wish to stay together and they don’t even speak with each other. They pass chits to speak with each other. But they are compelled to travel together. What all happens in the journey forms the rest of the film. 

Normally, we decide the title of the film and then a title song is made. But it’s the opposite here. The film had a different title earlier but we felt it is quite long and might not get accepted in Marathi. We were debating about it for a year. Once I, Swapna tai and Subodh were watching the song ‘Tula Kalnnaar Nahi,’ which is played in the film after regular intervals in different situations and while portraying different emotions. We realized this should be the name of the film. The phrase is so generic that we use it in every relation. My mother tells this to me daily. So, we felt people would instantly relate with it. 

The names Rahul and Anjali remind us of Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol’s characters in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998). Did you ever think of this while shooting?
Actually, when we read the script for the first time, we didn’t realize that this will directly connect to the audience. We didn’t feel this even while shooting. But when we released the motion logo with the voiceovers of the two characters, we realized it will have an audience connect. This will surely help us as the audience will realize our relation is like Tom and Jerry and we are not a typical, boring couple. This is easily established and we didn’t have to work towards it. But this wasn’t intentional. So, it’s an added on bonus. 

You and Subodh Bhave have been acting in films seperately for years. But this is the first time you both are working together. 
It was a very good experience. As we all know, he is an outstanding actor and has done some amazing work in amazing films. I have been a fan of his. But we had never worked together. Interestingly, he has been my guide all these years. He always watches my films and gives feedback on where I was good and where I could have done something differently. He has called me up after watching every film of mine. He has been a mentor all this while. So, I was really looking forward to working with him. As he had given me his feedback even when we weren’t working (together), I was sure I would get to learn a lot while working with him. 

But I am glad we never worked together before because the film is only about Rahul and Anjali. Other characters come and go but Subodh and Sonalee are there for complete two hours. It’s a simple performance oriented film. There is no melodrama. The fun element is our organic chemistry which I feel has worked. We have done our scenes without rehearsals because the spontaneity was very important in these characters. Usually, when a husband and wife fight, they don’t listen to each other. They cut each other in between. You can’t bring such things through rehearsals. 

What all do you look into before signing a film?
I am doing a film after one and a half years. This is my next film after Poshter Girl (2016). The film was a landmark. People liked it and it did well at the box office. It broke the myth that women oriented films don’t work at the box office in Marathi. I thought after Classmates (2015), Mitwa (2015), Shutter (2015) and Poshter Girl were appreciated, people’s expectations increased.

Even your own expectations increase towards yourself. But usually I don’t take such pressure. When I listen to a script for the first time, I listen as an audience. If I feel I would like the film as an audience, only then I take the next step and look at the character offered and see if it’s different or challenging. 

This is my 10th year in the industry, so people would want to see you do different things. If I had to do the same thing again and again, I would have done a 9 to 5 job. I didn’t do that because I don’t like routine stuff. Then I see the production and who is involved. This is because you put in so much of hard work, so you must be convinced that the film reaches the audience. 

It has been seven years since Natrang (2010) released. But people still remember you for its song ‘Apsara Aali.’
Even today, whenever I attend any program, that song is played. It has created my identity. I think it is something to cherish. I feel even after I stop working or get married and later get old, the tag of ‘Apsara Aali’ will never leave me (laughs). But it is a nice image. Natarang gave me an identity in the industry. I am grateful that even today my work is remembered by people. 

This year hasn’t been good for Marathi cinema. We have seen too many films being released. Out of these very few have managed to become successful. 
This is good and bad at the same time. Good because we as an industry are making so many films. This provides jobs to so many people; artists and technicians. This is a great thing. But somewhere down the line there arrives a problem during the release. A lot of films are released without plans. Very few films are released with proper planning. Some people just release the film as soon as it is complete. This creates a divide in shows. So, the film which has the potential to do well gets lesser shows. It creates a loss for everyone. Hence, planning for the release is very important before making a film. And everybody should follow such plans.

I can’t say don’t make bad films. Nobody purposely makes a bad film saying, ‘Let’s make a bad film.’ Everyone wants to make a good film. But sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I feel Chitrapat Mahamandal (Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Chitrapat Mahamandal) and artists should plan the calendar for the year so that nobody faces loss and good films do well. We have found audience after many years, so it’s necessary to keep them with us. Even Hindi films are coming in abundance and even they aren’t doing well. So, I believe there is this stagnancy in the industry. 

What are your forthcoming films?
I feel I am going to make up for the one and a half year gap. I have Hampi with Prakash Kunte. I have done another film with Amruta Subhash. It’s in the post-production stage right now. So, I have back-to-back 3-4 films in the next six months.