indian cinema heritage foundation

Sonali Bendre

  • Primary Cinema: Hindi
  • First film: Aag (1994)
  • Spouse: Goldie Behl
  • Children: Ranveer Behl

Sonali Bendre is known for her performances in films such as Zakhm (1998), Sarfarosh (1999), Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai (2000), Manmadhudu (2002), and Anaahat (2003). She won even more fans and well-wishers for her courageous and graceful fight against cancer, which she had revealed in 2018. Winner of multiple awards for her debut film Aag (1994), including the Filmfare Award for Lux New Face of the Year, she was born in 1975 in Bombay. A popular model, she made waves appearing in the popular song Humma Humma in Bombay (1995), post which she starred in a slew of films including Rakshak (1996), English Babu Desi Mem (1996), Diljale (1996), Duplicate (1998) and Major Saab (1998). She has also featured in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada films, as well as television hosting Kya Masti Kya Dhoom....! and as a talent judge for Mr & Mrs Television, Indian Idol 4, India's Got Talent, Hindustan Ke Hunarbaaz and India's Best Dramebaaz, and playing the lead role in Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh. A style icon, she also hosts a book club, and has authored a book, The Modern Gurukul: My Experiments with Parenting. 

Born on 1 January, 1975, into a Maharashtrian family, she studied at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Bangalore and attended Ramnarain Ruia College, Bombay. Starting off with modelling, she went on to enter the Star Dust Talent Search, which she won. Cast in a film called Ram, produced by Sohail Khan, the film however failed to be made. Her break came with Aag (1994), an action-drama film directed by K Ravi Shankar. Her performance won the Filmfare Award for Lux New Face of the Year as well as the Star Screen Awards for Most Promising Newcomer. She also featured in Naaraaz (1994), winning the Filmfare Sensational Debut award for her performance. The following year, Bendre grabbed eyeballs with her scintillating dance performance in the song Humma Humma in Mani Ratnam’s romantic drama film, Bombay (1995).

The following year, she starred in a slew of films including Rakshak, English Babu Desi Mem, Diljale, Apne Dam Par (1996) and Sapoot (1996). She made further headlines, when, dressed in a traditional Marathi nauvari sari, she welcomed Michael Jackson who had arrived in India for his music tour. 

Sonali went on to star in films such as Bhai (1997), Tarazu (1997), Qahar (1997), Keemat (1998), Humse Badhkar Kaun (1998), Major Saab (1998), Angaaray (1998), Zakhm (1998) and the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Duplicate (1998). She also featured in two Tamil films in 1999 - Kadhalar Dhinam and Kannodu Kanbathellam. Part of the multi-star cast in Hum Saath-Saath Hain (1999), she also starred in Dahek (1999) as well as opposite Aamir Khan in Sarfarosh (1999), a critically and commercially successful film which deals with an Indian police officer's quest to stop cross-border terrorism.

While she made a brief cameo in Chal Mere Bhai (2000) and Dhai Akshar Prem Ke (2000), she also acted in Hamaara Dil Aapke Paas Hai (2000). For her performance, she won the Star Screen Award Best Supporting Actress award and was nominated for Planet - Bollywood People's Choice Awards (Best Supporting Actress). Starring in Jis Desh Mein Ganga Rehta Hain (2000), a Mahesh Manjrekar-directed comedy co-starring Govinda, she also went on to make her debut in Kannada films with Preethse (2000), which was a remake of Yash Chopra’s psychological thriller, Darr (1993).

Making her Telugu debut in Murari (2001) opposite Mahesh Babu, she bagged a nomination for Filmfare Award for Best Actress in Telugu. Acting in Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega (2001), she also featured in a song, Mujhe saajan ke ghar jaana hai in Lajja (2001), as well as the drama film Tera Mera Saath Rahen (2001).

The year 2002 saw her starring in no less than three Telugu films, namely Indra, Khadgam and Manmadhudu. She made her debut in Marathi films the following year, with Anahat (2003). Her performance in this Amol Palekar-directorial which focuses on a woman asserting her right to sexual fulfilment, saw her nominated for the Star Screen Awards Best Actress in Marathi. She went on to star in Pyaar Kiya Nahin Jaatha (2003), the Telugu film Palnati Brahmanayudu (2003) and the romance film Chori Chori (2003), also making a special appearance in Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003). 

The year 2004 saw Sonali Bendre starring in Shankar Dada MBBS (2004). She also made a special appearance in the Marathi comedy, Aga Bai Arrecha! (2004). She went on a sabbatical from films, thereafter. She returned to films with the Milan Luthria-directed Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobaara! (2012), the sequel to Once Upon A Time in Mumbai (2010). 

Sonali’s career in television saw her hosting the dance show Kya Masti Kya Dhoom....! She also featured as talent judge for several shows such as Mr & Mrs Television, the reality shows Indian Idol 4, India's Got Talent, Hindustan Ke Hunarbaaz and India's Best Dramebaaz. Narrating the TV show, Mission Sapne on Colors in 2014, she also played the lead in Star Life OK's television series Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh.

Acknowledged as a skilful dancer through films such as Gaddar, Sapoot, Bombay, Lajja and Major Saab, she was also popular as a style icon, also being the brand ambassador of an international beauty brand. 
She acted in a play in 2007, called Aap Ki Soniya, and has also authored a book, The Modern Gurukul: My Experiments with Parenting. She has run the Sonali Book Club since 2017. 

In the year 2018, Sonalli had revealed via Twitter, that she had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and was undergoing treatment in a New York City hospital. She had written, “Sometimes, when you least expect it, life throws you a curveball. I have recently been diagnosed with a high-grade cancer that has metastised, which we frankly did not see coming. A niggling pain led to some tests, which led to this unexpected diagnosis. My family and close friends have rallied around me, providing the best support system that anyone can ask for.” She kept fans updated on the status of her treatment. In a subsequent interview with Vogue magazine she shared, “My first thought was to hide it because it was a disease. I thought my ‘brand’ is over—all along I had been endorsing healthy eating and health-focused products, and suddenly it was all gone. It was only when my oncologist said that I had fourth-stage cancer and a 30% chance that my whole world view changed. Suddenly I didn’t see any reason not to talk about it. I had done nothing wrong; it was not my fault I had cancer, so why was I hiding it?”
Married to filmmaker Goldie Behl in 2002, the couple has a son named Ranveer.