A critically-acclaimed actor, Sonali Kulkarni has successfully straddled the world of films, television and theatre. Appreciated by both critics and fans in equal measure, the talented actress has given several memorable performances over the years. Of these, Gulmohar, a Marathi film released in 2009, is one of our favourites. Here’s why.
The movie is about a woman’s search for her identity after her marriage starts to crumble. Sonali plays Vidya who falls in love with Deven, a stage artist and marries him against the wishes of her parents.
Deven due to his impossibly high ideals ends up as a failed actor, jobless and dependent on Vidya. Vidya takes up a job as a lecturer and starts taking baby steps towards becoming a writer steadily flourishing in her career. As her love for Deven remains steadfast, he grows jealous and insecure even accusing her of infidelity. Gulmohar is the story of her transformation from a supportive, dedicated and understanding wife to a free woman who follows her heart.
Sonali’s acting in this movie will remind you of the parallel cinema of the 80s featuring the likes of Smita Patil. She is a natural talent and gives a compelling performance. She lives her character and her expressive eyes convey more than the dialogues. She swiftly navigates the various aspects of Vidya character. She is vulnerable and feminine yet resolute and independent.
Actresses rarely get such women-centric stories and Sonali makes the most of it. In the presence of seasoned theatre actors like Rajit Kapur, her performance shines through. She brilliantly characterises the role of a suffering wife who puts her wishes and aspirations on the backburner for the sake of her marriage. As she rationalises her husband’s behaviour trying to sympathise with him, you feel for her. When she decides to live life on her own terms and happily so, you cheer for her!
Sonali won a National Award for her role in the short film Chaitra and has won the best actress award for films like Doghi and Devrai. A method actress who owns the screen and every role she plays, Sonali definitely deserved an award for Gulmohar too. If you haven’t already watched this movie, make sure you watch it.