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Sonali discusses how the digital age has clouded our understanding of what is real and what is virtual      

“White Lily & Night Rider’ is a witty comment on the clash between virtual illusions and reality,” says Sonali Kulkarni

Well-known actor Sonali Kulkarni has had an enduring relationship with theatre. ‘White Lily and Night Rider’ has been one of her biggest successes on stage as an actor and a producer.

The story about two individuals who fall in love with each other’s  virtual identities continues to strike a chord even as a popular Zee Theatre teleplay. Sonali believes the story penned by the late Rasika Joshi and Milind Phatak is a witty and relatable summation of how virtual illusions clash with reality more often than not.

Talking about what makes this theme so resonant, she says, “The success of the play lies in the playwrights’ brilliance. They were so much in touch with the times and incorporated so many aspects of technology and how it impacts us.

They communicated the primacy of human connection and that is why this story works so well even today regardless of region or  country. Whether a person is well-informed, uneducated, wealthy or from the middle class, they can all relate to ‘White Lily and Night Rider’ because it is about the search for love and a soul-mate.”

Sonali stepped in as the leading lady of the play when actor and writer Rasika Joshi passed away in 2011 and she recalls, “I remember meeting Rasika and Milind when they were staging the 100th show of the Marathi version of the play. I met them  with a small gift, and told Rasika, ‘Why don’t you do a Hindi and English adaptation?

It is such a lovely play!’ I also promised her that I would fund the play. But tragically, we lost her to cancer that very year. And then after a year, Milind Phatak called me and said, “I want you as White Lily.’ Thousands of emotions ran through my mind and heart. And I just felt that for me to honour the promise of funding the play, we had to lose Rasika. She is not there, but the kind of spirited person she was, she wouldn’t have liked the play to stop.”

Sonali eventually turned into the producer of the play and says, “I am happy that White Lily’s journey is still on. We have performed in the UK, Singapore, Thailand, Canada, the US, Scotland and a variety of places around the world. The teleplay format too is offering a convenient and accessible way to bring engaging and thought-provoking plays like this to younger audiences in the comfort of their own homes.”

Filmed by Swapna Waghmare Joshi and directed for stage by Milind Phatak, the play features Milind Phatak with Sonali Kulkarni. It can be watched at the Tata Play Theatre.

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