Malaikottai Vaaliban-star Sonalee Kulkarni discusses being a part of such a large project and her character in the period fantasy film in an interview with OTTplay.
Sonalee Kulkarni | Photo: Instagram/ sonalee18588
Sonalee Kulkarni is brimming with excitement for her next film, Malaikottai Valiban, which is helmed by Lijo Jose Pellissery. The Marathi actress is thrilled to be sharing screen time with Malayalam superstar Mohanlal and other exceptional performers across the nation, in addition to being in a pan-Indian project.
With more than 35 Marathi and Hindi films to her credit, Sonalee is about to make her big-screen debut in Malayalam this year with this much-awaited project. The Lavani dancer from the popular Marathi song, Apsara Aali, who captured people's hearts with her classy looks and graceful performance, is playing Rangarani in Malaikottai Vaaliban.
Sonalee discusses being a part of such a large project and her character in the period fantasy film in an interview with OTTplay.
How were you approached by the makers of Malaikottai Vaaliban to play Rangarani?
This may sound like a very cliched response, but certain films are meant to be made, and every actor in them is destined to be a part of those projects. I believe it was written in my faith to play Rangarani.
After seeing my most well-known Marathi work, Natarang and Lijo sir contacted me. Not just him, but a few others as well, one of whom, my friend, actor Siddarth Menon, contacted me. Being called for a Malayalam movie piqued my interest, especially since I greatly admire this industry's work. Second, a chance to perform with the global icon Mohanlal.
At that point, everything seemed too good to be true. Soon after, the creators sent a synopsis and presentation, and I not only adored Rangarani but also all the wonderful supporting cast members.
Apart from the outstanding cast and Lijo Jose Pellissery, what about this film excited you the most?
It was interesting when I found out that Pondicherry and Rajasthan would be the primary filming locations. Second, in addition to Malayalam, the movie has been dubbed into Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Hindi. Is it possible for this to get any bigger? I grabbed hold of this incredible opportunity without hesitation.
The vocabulary and dialect used in Malaikottai Vaaliban differ from those of native speakers in everyday conversations. You must have encountered difficulties processing certain scenes while filming?
Language barrier caused me constant problems on set. Even though we had a workshop to learn the nuances of the languages before the shoot, I would constantly wander around inquiring as to what was going on and the precise circumstances of the scene. Since Malayalam is the hardest language in India, I did not find this task to be easy.
It might not be possible to give away too much about your character right now, but could you briefly describe Rangarani?
The trailer may have given viewers a glimpse of Rangarani, a graceful actress and dancer. She has a touch of Maharashtra and comes from a different land. In this movie, I am playing Lavani as well. There is far too much diversity in this film because every character, not just Rangarani, is from distinct lands. My outfits and looks as Rangarani are a stunning fusion of many Indian cultures.
How would you sum up your experience working with Lijo Jose Pellissery?
In one word, I would characterise it as maddening. You would not have any idea what was going through his head, so you would not know exactly what to deliver. Lijo is a spontaneous director. He might give us last-minute instructions, so you have to be alert. In some scenes, he urged us to react and respond right away.
Through me, he has brought to life the Rangarani that he had imagined. Lijo possesses an insanely brilliant vision that is not common among contemporary Indian filmmakers. As a perfectionist, he devotes a great deal of energy and attention to every scene.
As an actor, I believe we are puppets of filmmakers who are pulling the strings. All emotions are the same in the end, but what counts is who is guiding you and whose perspective we are acting out of. Lijo sir deserves all the credit for presenting me in a way that I have never been before.
What distinctions do you think exist between the Malayalam and Marathi film industries?
I believe that these two industries have more in common. These are content-driven sectors with an intelligent audience. The main distinction is that we do not have any superstars like Mohanlal, Mammootty, or Prithviraj Sukumaran there. However, a number of new artists and filmmakers are bringing Marathi cinema to a wider audience throughout the nation.
Have you ever felt under pressure at some point while working on such a huge project?
Excitement and anticipation outweighed my tension. I think this is the ideal moment to be involved in Indian cinema since boundaries are shrinking, industries are combining, and diverse performers are being warmly welcomed. This results in an amazing amalgamation of skills, narratives, and artistic expression. Likewise, with regard to Malaikottai Vaaliban, I have given my best, and I can't wait to see how the crowd reacts in the theatres on the opening day.