She made us swoon to her hit songs in the 90s and early aughts, but Sonali Bendre returned to the streaming space this month in a never-before-seen avatar. Playing the fierce news editor Amina Qureshi on The Broken News, Sonali Bendre was a bundle of nerves as she prepped and shot for her comeback project. In an exclusive conversation with Pinkvilla, the actress opened up about her OTT debut, how the industry has changed for the better and her co-stars Jaideep Ahlawat and Shriya Pilgaonkar.
Here are the interview excerpts from our chat with Sonali Bendre:
As a viewer, it has been great to see you again onscreen. How different was it for you to get into character and in front of the camera for your comeback?
For the first time in my life I got a bound script. So, I can’t tell you how exciting that was for me. I actually got all the material before hand so I could work on it. I really enjoyed the process. I loved the way they are working now. My husband Goldie (Behl) always told me,”You’ll really enjoy the way we work now. You must get back to it.” I loved the fact that I got a bound script, the interactions on the set, the collaborative spirit, the whole camaraderie and team spirit, it was amazing.
You’ve played a righteous character in The Broken News as editor-in-chief Amina Qureshi. How did you prep for the character? Were you familiar with newsroom lingo?
The newsroom lingo was easy to do, once I got my lines. But, I have to share, when the show’s hoardings went up in the city my son told, “Mumma, it looks like your staring down at me. The expression is like have you done your homework.” My husband and my son were pulling my leg. They said we know the “strict you”. Goldie said that my expression looks like, “What have you eaten now?”.
Any special prep?
There were readings. There were also times when I was doing a certain scene and the director would say he wants to rework on the scene based on how I was performing. So, all that happened. Table readings helped me.
Did you also draw any experiences from your personal life or or references from onscreen news personalities?
For me, it was more of a thought process. I always used to think that for Amina to reach where she has reached, at the age she is, to run a newsroom..there are quite a few glass ceilings she must have broken. To have that powerful position and as a woman, it would have been quite a journey. The choices that she makes could either make her or break her. After giving her everything and to be where she is, that’s something we thought about it. So, I went back to her journey. Rather than one person, it would be the thought process. But of course, you may find a few references here and there.
Speaking about strong characters, you were surrounded by Jaideep Ahlawat and Shriya Pilgaonkar who have also dished out equally strong performances. What was it like working with them?
(Laughs) My god, you’re telling me? I was so scared. When OTT is concerned, they are veterans of OTT. They know what to do and they know how it’s done. For me, it was like restarting. It was like beginning again and I was very nervous about it.
Did you learn anything in particular from them?
I wouldn’t say anything in particular. But I loved the way they worked their characters. They were so prepared on set and I loved the realism in their acting. Considering that I had these two actors and the fact that I had never really come from that school of acting, it was a very big risk in that sense..to keep it real. I was always worried that even one false note with these actors in this kind of a setup would be so jarring. So, it was important for me to get the right note.
Did you see a massive difference in the way content is treated on OTT and in films?
Yes, of course. Huge difference. Like I said earlier, I got a bound script and the way it was being shot. Technology has changed so much. Cameras have changed, so makeup and everything changes according to that.
Earlier, if a camera moved, you knew that the camera was moving because there was a whole production that moved with the camera. Now, the cameras are so small that it is literally sneaking up on you, which I’m not used to. I was so aware of knowing where all the cameras were going to be. So, all that was very new for me.
The lighting, too, is so different now. Earlier, I used to not miss a mark, because you followed the light. And once you hit the light, you knew you were at the right spot. But here, suddenly, there was no light to follow. There was a lot of unlearning and lot of learning to be done.
The Broken News ended on a cliffhanger. Is season 2 in the making?
Even I’m looking forward to what’s next. I think it will be quite exciting. The response we’ve got, I’m sure there will be a season 2.
What’s next in store for you? Are you working on any other project?
I’m finishing DID Lil’ Masters now. I’ve had so much fun on the show. I’m going to miss those kids and Mouni Roy, Remo. Then, I’m taking a break and going on a holiday.
I’ve finished one show, a reality show, I’ve done much more than I’ve done for many years in my life now. So, I think a little break is important. I’m going to come back and see what’s on the plate and then choose some things. I’m not sure when I will like, what I like and what I’ll be doing next. I’m going to come back from my break and relook at things.