Sonali Kulkarni is one of the actresses who on one hand played the on-screen mother of Bollywood stars like Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan, and on the other, played strong female roles in several films and web shows including the recent ‘The Whistleblower’.
In conversation with IANS, the actress explains why the whole conversation around the age-appropriate roles of female and male actors needs to be changed, adding why every single choice of hers was unique.
While the whole conversation of age representation of female characters in Bollywood started to post the release of ‘Badhaai Ho’ in 2018, the trend of the older actors being cast opposite much younger female actresses is still continuing. On the other hand, female superstars have found their space in either female-centric films.
Sonali Kulkarni played the on-screen mother of Hrithik in ‘Mission Kashmir’ and Salman’s mother in ‘Bharat’; though Salman is 5 years elder to Sonali. She also played the mother of Farhan Akhtar in the film ‘Toofan’.
Sharing her opinion on the topic, Sonali told IANS: “For me, every choice that I made was for a reason. If I just talk about my debut film ‘Cheluvi’ in which I played a tree, yes, not even a man or a woman but a tree, metaphorically; it was because of the story, and the director Girish sir. When I played the mother in ‘Mission Kashmir’ I looked into the graph of the character.
“Yes, in the year 2000 I was much younger to play Hrithik’s mother but a substantial part of the story had my journey as a mother of a young child and wife of Sanjay Dutt who played a police officer. So I did not limit or let go of the opportunity to play such an interesting character, just because I also had few scenes in which the grown-up child was eventually played by Hrithik.”
Sonali Kulkarni went on sharing, “It was the same with the film ‘Bharat’ as well where I was playing the wife of Jackie Shroff. What happened during the Partition and how Janaki Devi’s character goes through so much was an important part of the narrative. So for me, every choice I made, had no formula behind it, it was the demand of the narrative. I am lucky that despite playing those characters on-screen, I was never stereotyped because I also offered films like ‘Dil Chahta Hai’, ‘Pyaar Tune Kya Kia’ among many others. So I think the conversation of playing mother on-screen and the age-appropriate roles, need to be changed.”
In the web series ‘The Whistleblower’, Sonali played a journalist. She will also be seen in the new season of ‘Crackdown’ and Samit Kakkad’s ‘Dharavi Bank’.
Asked about the casting of male superstars opposite actresses much younger than them and Sonali Kulkarni said, “I think we tend to only highlight the three Khans of Bollywood – Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan. I am saying while they have started playing characters on-screen that flaunt their grey hair, Saif Ali Khan is also a Khan and he has been making some wise choices and delivering some of the finest performance and age-appropriate roles.”
“We again need to shift the focus to actors like him who are really great talent,” she signed off.
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