Bollywood actress Sonali Kulkarni added a feather to her cap being the only Indian actor this year to feature at the just concluded Venice film festival. Sonali stepped on the red carpet at the Festival this year for the premier of her Italian film Fuoco Di Su Me (Fire at My Heart). With so many actors now professing to go global and doing international projects, this actor has quietly gone ahead and acted in a truly international venture.
A completely international venture with a European crew and a stellar cast including the award winning Omar Sherif, Sonali plays an Italian actress to the boot. This is the first time that an Indian actress has played the role on a foreigner, in the leading role in an international production. So far, all Indian actors to have featured in foreign ventures have played Indian roles so this makes it quite an exception!
Speaking of her experience at the gala event from Venice, Sonali said,My film was given a red carpet welcome at one of the most prestigious film festivals. It was my privilege to share the red carpet with the legendary Omar Sheriff who floored me with his compliments about my performance and made me feel great when he said he thought I was beautiful and had an international look!
Having spotted Sonali in her first film Cheluvi (Beautiful Girl), directed by Girish Karnad, the Italian production with the help of Director Lamberto Lambertini tracked down Sonali in Pune, India in 1995-96 and invited her for a screen test and she was then finalized as the main lead for a film titled Vrindavan which was screened at the Venice Film Festival. With the producers and directors thrilled with Sonali's work, they once again cast her in the lead role 'Graziella' - this time for an Italian film.
Graziella is a very pure, poetic, romantic and innocent character. She began shooting in Rome in September 2004 after 6 weeks of coaching in dialogues, diction, pronunciations and physical fitness etc. She stunned the mostly Italian crew with her fluency and conviction in her performance. To top it all, she didn't give a single retake considering her lack of knowledge of the Italian language!
In Fuoco Di Su Me, a love story set against a war backdrop, Sonali plays a girl living on an island who picks corals from the sea. A simple innocent who hasn't seen the world beyond this island. A prince (Massimiliano Verresse) comes to this island by accident who is the grandson of Omar Sharif. They are fighting in a war seeking peace. The prince falls in love with Graziella and the Procida Island. The blossoming love between the two goes through many hurdles but manages to remain intact.
With Fuoco Di Su Me, Sonali has cherished memories of her first international film experience and adds to her growing list of acclaimed films including Cheluvi, Dil Chahta Hai, Pyar Tune Kya Kiya, Shwet along with her theatrical achievements.