Sonali Bendre is back on our screens after a long absence from playing roles. Sonali’s positioning, on the other hand, is crucial — gone are the shy, girl-next-door parts that we’ve mostly seen her in. In their place, the tenacious journalist from ZEE5’s The Broken News. Sonali says it was a purposeful decision to act her age on film in her interview with indianexpress.com. At 47, the performer says she is looking her “best-self,” after overcoming a real-life fight with cancer and emerging stronger as a result.
For the majority of her acting career, Sonali says she was “stuck in a certain image.” “I was extremely enthusiastic for The Broken News since, when my son was born, I took a sabbatical from writing fiction in order to spend more time with him. I’d been wanting to return to fiction for a long but was dissatisfied with the work I was getting. Even though I had progressed from there and needed to perform work that had grown with me, I sometimes felt trapped in a specific image. This isn’t to diminish who I was as a person or an actor; it’s what made me who I am today, but I needed more. I believe it is difficult to break into that. Then there was Covid-19, and then there was the disease. When the BBC approached me, I watched the original show and thought it had a lot of potential, but I wanted to see how the adaptation turned out first. I also like the show’s compassionate nature and the fact that it was so relevant. It wasn’t prejudicial; I was cast in a character that would offer me a vacation from my public persona.”
“I don’t think playing a romantic role or being the girl-next-door isn’t difficult,” Sonali adds when asked about being “stuck in a certain image.” It seems liberated to be able to play who I am right now; I don’t want to be bound by the past. This is how it is, this is life’s fact, this is unavoidable… I’m going to become older, and I don’t believe that will lessen my gift; rather, it will enhance it.”
Sonali says she likes how she looks now and is looking forward to returning to acting. “I enjoy how I’m looking now.” My face, I believe, has more personality. I admire beauty that has been lived because I believe it reflects a life of experience, and I am drawn to those kind of features. So, if I may say so, I honestly believe that I am looking the best I’ve ever looked.”
Do actors, on the other hand, feel under constant pressure to look good? “Yes and no,” says the speaker. There are days when you wonder, “Do I have to do this?” There are times when you have to halt and ask yourself, “How much is enough?” It is a call that we must make in order to determine where my border is. I’ve discovered a location where I feel at ease, where I love some aspects of the situation (media attention), and where I’m happy to be dressed in a specific way because it’s enjoyable to do so. But there are days when I’m looking in a certain direction, and I didn’t ask you to click that picture, so that’s your problem. Is it going to take away from the things I enjoy about myself? I hope not, and I hope the audience is aware of this as well. What I went through as a result of my illness aided me in this. Looks will be here today, and they will most likely be gone tomorrow. As a result, I can’t put all of my faith in something so delicate.”
While Sonali is enjoying this stage of her life and the way she looks, she has overcome a difficult period in her life after being diagnosed with metastatic cancer in 2018 and undergoing treatment. Sonali used social media to discuss her cancer journey in order to feel less alone at this time and tackle her worries.
“I shared my story because I wanted to be the first to tell it, so the words were mine,” she explains. I just needed to be out there so there wouldn’t be any misunderstandings about what was going on, and there wouldn’t be any Chinese whispers, gossip, or speculation.”
“I figured that once I put everything out there, I’d be able to focus on my treatment.” However, the answer we received was really positive (encouraging). While the outpouring of affection was incredible, many others who have experienced similar situations acknowledged they had kept their feelings hidden from their families and how lonely it made them feel. Because of the support system I had, I was able to get through it all. My family had flown down, my friends had flown down, and my child had flown down with me. Imagine how shockingly terrible it would be if I were alone in that bed, I murmured. So that’s when I made the conscious decision to share my experience. I have photos and videos of my darkest moments as well, but I never shared them since I was clear that I didn’t want sympathy, but rather positivity. Yes, it was difficult; there were difficult times; let’s talk about them; but I didn’t want to wallow in them. “And that’s how we got it done,” she continues.
On a final note, Sonali talks about how losing her hair throughout the therapy affected her. “When I started putting images of my bald head up, I also started to feel like I didn’t want to go out right now.” But then I remembered what I was scared of. So here it is, let’s put the photo up; it was more for me because it felt like the dread had been released. ‘Puri duniya ko dikha diya, ab kya darna,’ says the narrator. So that was it; it was just me going through my process,” she says.