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The Evolution of Consent and Publicity in Bollywood: Sonali Bendre Unveils the Past

Bollywood’s film promotion strategies from the ’90s stand in stark contrast to today’s practices, as evinced by veteran actress Sonali Bendre’s recent revelations. Once a leading actress in the Indian film industry who captivated audiences in hits like ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’ and ‘Sarfarosh,’ Bendre shared intriguing insights into the mechanisms of movie marketing during her heyday and the notable shift towards seeking consent in the current era.

In a compelling conversation with News18, Bendre highlighted a transformative change in how celebrity link-up stories are propagated today. Unlike in the past, when actors’ personal lives were fodder for gossip to drive film promotions without their input, actresses are now approached for their consent regarding rumors that can aid in generating buzz for their projects.

Bendre recounted instances from her career where the line between personal and professional was unilaterally blurred for the sake of publicity. “Gossips and newsmakers jumping to conclusions – be it about who you’re seeing or the affairs you’re having or even the fights you’re having with your co-stars – come under the gamut of ‘where did that come from?’ And most of the time, such things that were written about me weren’t true at all,” she disclosed.

She then contrasted this with the contemporary approach that respects an individual’s choice. “These days, actors are at least asked if they would want link-up rumors with their co-stars to be floated around.”

Drilling deeper into her experiences, Bendre detailed how during her active years in the film industry, actors were not consulted before link-up rumors were spread by the press as part of movie promotion strategies. “During my time, we weren’t even asked, and those gossips would just be out there to promote the film, and the actors had no choice,” she said. This practice, she believes, was intended to keep the lead pair in the news and might have indeed worked to pique audience interest. However, Bendre found the tactic quite perplexing and an odd element of her career.

Beyond the discussion of film promotion ethics, Bendre also shared her perspective on the industry’s long-debated insider-outsider dichotomy. Despite being an ‘outsider’ in Bollywood, she carved her niche and established herself successfully. She mused on moments of self-doubt and the challenges she faced while trying to assimilate into the film fraternity. Recalling a moment of vulnerability, she recounted her experience on the set of ‘Naraaz,’ admitting, “I was so embarrassed. I felt like an imposter.”

Today, Sonali Bendre’s journey shows a transition from silver-screen stardom to impactful roles on smaller screens. She is currently preparing for the second season of ‘The Broken News 2’, in which she will share screen space with actors Shriya Pilgaonkar and Jaideep Ahlawat, demonstrating her enduring versatility and appeal.

As she reflects on her past, Sonali Bendre’s observations suggest a positive progression within the entertainment industry concerning respect for personal boundaries and consent. These developments not only exemplify changing attitudes towards publicity tactics but also a growing acknowledgment of an individual’s right to privacy, even when under the limelight. Bendre’s candor in unveiling the then-and-now of film promotion provides a nuanced look back at a different era in Bollywood, while also reaffirming the importance of consent in modern-day media practices.