Sonali Bendre
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Face to Face with Sonali Bendre

You have taken up the AIDS awareness cause with a vengeance and are doing all you can in your capacity to make the public aware of the killer disease. But why AIDS?

Sonali Bendre: "Because at the rate AIDS is spreading, it's frightening. It's coming to a stage where we will be scared to go to a dentist or take a blood transfusion - howmuchever the need - because we will be afraid to catch the dreaded illness. There is a deep need to create an awareness as to the seriousness of the fast escalating situation. And I am becoming a campaigner for this particular cause because it is the greatest threat to the current generation, my generation. And because they enjoy so much liberty, there is an even greater need to take precaution. As a celebrity, I am sure that my fans will listen to what I say and support the cause in all earnestness. In my own small way I can only try to get a message across and hope that people join me in the crusade against AIDS. Which is why I was delighted to travel to Delhi and Calcutta for an AIDS awareness drive organised by Timescard. It was a good cause. All I'll say is wipe out AIDS, or the population will be the least of our worries. Get it?"

Sonali,You are extremely popular among the guys, but you have such a low projection in the media? We don't see you as much in print as some other actresses?

Sonali: "Don't ask me why, tell me why! This beats me too. Of course, I do hear all these snide remarks being made about me in the industry that, 'Oh, she's so good at her PR game ... she knows how to get those covers and that newsprint by smiling so sweetly ... she doesn't deserve the coverage she gets ...' Tell me, for God's sake, what PR? In fact, I am the only actress who doesn't know how to play the media game, the PR game. 

I've always lived by my heart and never by my head. And I've always maintained that my work will speak for me eventually. Sadly, the media doesn't seem to think so and the industry is blind to the fact - so far - that I am hot property as far as the public is concerned. 


And if my PR was so good then wouldn't I be on all the covers? Where are the covers? I'm sorry, in spite of losing a little bit of ground, I will not play it by the regular rules of the game. I agree media projection is important but it doesn't really help. In fact, proof of this is the fact that in my most successful year, 1999, so far, I've had the least amount of covers. I guess that says it all."

You and Aishwarya Rai - two gorgeous women with amazing talent and both extremely popular and ambitious. You have worked in the same film opposite Anil Kapoor. Was there any kind of Rivalry?

Sonali: "Of course, I will say that there was no rivalry or any intense need to outdo each other, either from my side or from Ash's. The fact is that we both play such contrasting roles which are so opposite in nature that there is no question of a comparison. There is no question of trying to outdo each other. In any case, Ash is so beautiful that I wouldn't even try."

Okay, Sonali, what is the secret of you being the hottest actress on the Internet?

Sonali: "Am I glad to hear that. But I think it should be announced to the film industry in general. Yes, I've heard that there are maximum web sites on my name and the maximum downloads of Indian actresses' pictures from the net are mine. I guess it is because my audience is primarily the younger, techno-savvy youth. Today if you see, other than college kids, even school kids are hooked on the net. And this is mainly true of the South Asian community living overseas. I guess this reflects my true popularity. What you read in magazines should be ignored because those are the reflections of the writer - meaning one particular individual - whose reflections could possibly be biased. And which is what the audiences are led to believe. But if you want to know how popular Sonali Bendre is, just get hooked on the net. It is the medium of the future anyway. And who knows? You might get lucky and be able to download me."


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