After an extended hiatus from appearing roles, the attractive Sonali Bendre is again on our screens. Her positioning, nonetheless, is of significance — gone is the timid, girl-next-door roles that we now have largely seen Sonali taking part in. In their stead is the fierce journalist of ZEE5 show The Broken News. In this interview with indianexpress.com, Sonali calls it a conscious decision the place she selected to play her age on display screen. At 47, the actor believes she is wanting her “best-self”, who has braved a battle in opposition to cancer on actual life and has emerged stronger for it.
Sonali believes she was ‘trapped in a certain image’ for many of her appearing profession. “I was very excited for The Broken News because I had taken a break from fiction after my son was born as I wanted to spend more time with him. I wanted to return to fiction for a little while now, but was unhappy with the work I was being offered. Sometimes, I felt I was trapped in a certain image, even though I had evolved from there and I needed to do the sort of work that had grown with me. This is not to take away the person and the actor I was — that’s what has made me what I am today, but I needed more. It is not easy to break into that, I think. And, then there was the illness, there was Covid-19. When BBC came to me, I watched the original show and I saw a lot of potential in it, but I wanted to wait and see how the adaption would turn out. And I really liked the humane nature of the show and the fact that it was so relatable. It wasn’t judgemental; I got a role that would give me a break from what has become my image.”
About being “trapped in a certain image”, Sonali says, “I don’t think playing a romantic role or being the girl-next-door is not fierce, but I wanted to play my age. It is liberating to be able to play what I am at this point of time, I don’t want to hold on to the past. This is what it is, this is the reality of life, this is inevitable… I am going to grow older and I don’t think it diminishes my talent, it adds to it.”
Sonali says she loves the way in which she appears to be like now and is happy to get again to work as an actor. “I like the way I look now. I think there is more character to my face. I enjoy beauty that is lived because I feel that shows a life of experience and I am very attracted to those kind of faces. So, I genuinely feel that, if I can say it myself, that I am looking the best I’ve ever looked.”
But do actors really feel a strain to look good always? “Yes and no. There are days when it feels like ‘do I have to do it?’ And then there are times when you take a pause and say, ‘how much is enough?’. It is a call that we need to take, understand where is my boundary. I have found the place where I am comfortable, I enjoy certain aspects of the thing (media attention), I am happy I am dressed up in a certain way, it is fun to do that. But then there are certain days when I am looking a certain way, and I did not ask you to click that picture, so that’s your problem. Is that going to reduce of what I like about myself? I hope not, and I hope the audience understands that also. What I went through with my illness helped me with that. Looks are going to be here and they are definitely going to be gone tomorrow. So, I can’t waste my entire self confidence on something that is so fragile.”
While Sonali is loving this part of her life and the way in which she appears to be like, she has emerged from a difficult part of her life when she was recognized with metastatic most cancers in 2018 and underwent remedy for it. Sonali shared her most cancers journey on social media to really feel much less lonely throughout this era and face her personal fears.
She says, “I shared my story because I wanted to be the first one to put it out so the words were mine. I just needed to be out there so there’s no confusion about what was going on and there were no Chinese whispers or gossip or speculation about it.”
“I thought once I put it out there, I’ll go on with my treatment. But the response we got was so (encouraging). While the outpouring of love was amazing, a lot of people who have been through similar situations said they’d hidden it from their family members and how lonely it made them. I could go through it all because of the support system I had. My family was with me, my friends had flown down, my child was with me. I said just imagine if I was lying in that bed alone, how shocking sad it would be. So, that’s when I took a conscious decision that I’ll share my journey. I do have pictures and videos of my worst moments also, but I never put that out because I was very clear that I didn’t want sympathy, I wanted positivity out of it. Yes, it was hard, there are bad moments, lets talk about it, but I didn’t want to wallow in it. And that’s how we took it through,” she provides.
On a parting notice, Sonali shares how dropping her hair throughout the remedy took a toll on her. “When I put pictures of my bald head, it was also when I started to feel that I did not want to step out right now. But then I thought, what I was afraid of. So here it is, lets put the picture out, it was more for myself because it was like here it is, the fear is out. ‘puri duniya ko dikha diya, ab kya darna’. So that was that, it was me dealing with my process,” she concludes.