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In Bollywood, stars may take criticism about their personal life with a pinch of salt but if you cast any aspersions on their professionalism, they will come out strongly to defend themselves. This is because maintaining good relations with the powers-that-be is as important as being a good performer and dancer. Otherwise, you end up paying a heavy price. Sonali Bendre, one of the one of the most beautiful actresses of the past decade realised this truth of Bollywood, much to her dismay but it was too late by then.
Back in the early 2000s Sonali was a very popular name. Despite not having many hits to her credit or being known for her spectacular acting skills, Sonali was quite a charmer – probably the reason why she bagged films regularly with A-list stars and banners!
It was during this period that she signed a film called System, made by one of the biggest filmmakers and financiers of that time, Jhamu Sugandh. A powerful name in the industry, he had the clout to make or break careers back then.
The problem allegedly began when, after signing on the dotted line and receiving an advance payment, Sonali demanded that the script be changed. The actress rumouredly felt that she had precious little to do in the film that starred a relatively unknown Aryan Vaid in the lead. As a bigger name, she wanted more focus on her. She had earlier done the hugely popular item song Humma Humma in Jhamu’s Bombay so she may have thought he would toe the line.
MUCH TO HER ALLEGED SURPRISE, Jhamu refused. Rumour has it he tried to explain to her that the movie centred around an honest cop’s fight against the system and hence couldn’t be focused on her. The director Arvind Ranajan Das also stepped in and flatly refused to compromise his script for Sonali. Jhamu therefore was stuck between an adamant director and an equally stubborn leading lady.
Sonali, on her part, acted tough probably because she had a number of projects on her plate --- a film with Mahesh Manjrekar (Tera Mera Saath Rahe) up for release and the promise of two more films with him. She had also been signed up for a TV show Kya Masti Kya Dhum for a heavy price. System was soon thrown into chaos as it was not on her priority list and she allegedly didn’t give dates for the movie. And then she dropped a bomb – three months into the shoot, she rumouredly walked out of the project.
SONALI’S REBELLION LEFT JHAMU furious and he allegedly decided to teach her a lesson. The next thing one heard was that Sonali had been ousted from both of Mahesh Manjrekar’s films. Rumour has it Jhamu, who was financing both movies, was behind this. To add to her misery, Tera Mera Saath Rahe – a movie she was banking on – bombed miserably and the actress may have realised the price she had paid for antagonising a powerful man. To rectify the error, she allegedly returned to System with ready dates. With her other films not doing well, she had no option but to make peace with Jhamu. Even in the case of Mahesh Manjrekar’s films, she only managed to do one (Jis Desh Mein Ganga Rehta Hai) despite the filmmaker allegedly promising to sign her for future projects. Though everyone later tried to maintain an ‘all is well’ front with director Arvind blaming the entire controversy on ‘date hassles’, rumour has it the makers wanted to teach her a lesson. Unfortunately, the movie System didn’t create any ripples either and Sonali’s career went downhill.
Other Actress Filmmaker Spats
Bebo walked out of Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai allegedly at mom Babita’s insistence, leaving Rakesh Roshan furious.
Kangana Ranaut had a fallout with David Dhawan when she was sidelined during the Rascals promotions.
Madhur lashed out at Ash after she walked out of Heroine because of her pregnancy.
Sonali’s career never got the momentum it deserved after hits like Humma Humma and later, Sarfarosh. The flops piled up, other actresses took over her and she decided to quit the industry and get married to producer Goldie Behl.
Jhamu Sugandh continued to make movies though he could never replicate the success of Rangeela, Lagaan or Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. He soon fell into hard times and faced a lot of financial problems before eventually passing away in 2008.