I was born and brought up in Pune. I went to Abhinav Vidyalaya and was a fairly good student, always scoring 80s and 90s. I come from an academically inclined family - my dad is an engineer and my brothers are academically brilliant. I wanted to study in Fergusson College. I majored in Political Science from there and even got a scholarship in Marathi literature. I was an avid sportsperson and continue to be keenly interested in sports.

I worked with handicapped children in Balkayan Sanstha, Pune for 5 years as dance and entertainment teacher. These kids were physically or mentally challenged.

I always had a flair for learning languages. Being in the film industry gave me an opportunity to learn several including Gujarati, Italian and Tamil, apart from the ones I already knew - Marathi, Hindi and English.

My earliest memories in the performing arts go back to performing at Ganapati Utsav - in a culturally active colony in Pune. I participated in everything... music, dance and theatre. I continue to be so passionate about these arts.  My elder brother Sandeep was instrumental in me pursuing theatre and is totally responsible for my foundation in theatre.

My first break...

Samanvay is a group of people passionate about theatre - from acting to direction to production. Sandesh Kulkarni, Sonali Kulkarni, Amrita Subash, Nikhil Ratnaparkhi, Shashank Shende, Kiran Yadnopavit, Nilesh Kulkarni, Sameer Joshi and Mandar Patwardhan form Samanvay. Each person in the group is a name to reckon with today, in their respective specialities.

I did not realise when acting turned into a passion. While I was studying at Fergusson College, Pune, I landed my first break in cinema - in Cheluvi, directed by well known playwright and filmmaker Girish Karnad. Theater is my mother and cinema my father. I love and need them both equally.

People tell me that I do not have a starry attitude. I like my attitude - direct and simple, completely related with my work. I am myself all the time and a very social person. I get along very well with my co-actors, directors and the entire unit.

I believe my instincts while choosing a film. Something in the project should excite me - the story, character, director or the money, at least I don't like comparisons at all. My competition is with myself. So sky's the limit!

The rat race...

I am glad with the pace of my career. I am in no hurry to prove anything to anyone, not even myself. For the kind of diverse roles that I play, it is sometimes emotionally taxing for me. But then, I like the challenge... just to see how good I can get.

Sonali will always remain as she is. But she can learn something more from the character; and sometimes even unlearn. I do not entirely carry the role back home. But I do carry some memories and some strong associations. The fact is I am only acting out a role and I am not acting when I am at home.

At home...

My home is a place to relax, unwind and be myself. Rangoli, torans, bells, lamps and fancy curtains adorn my flat. My creativity was at its peak when doing up my place and I loved every moment of the four months it took me.

When I am not shooting, my day begins with pranayams followed by tea. A rigorous workout wakes me up followed by meetings, shopping and catching up on some reading and writing make up the rest of my day. I love cooking. My mom's traditional recipes make up my menu. I completely relax when I cook and listen to music.

Working out is a must for me as I tend to put on weight easily.  My workout everyday is a mix of weight training, cardio exercises and spinning.

I also do ten minutes of meditation before lunchtime which is very refreshing for the mind. I'm a changed person since I started doing sidha samadhi yoga (SSY). Led by Guruji Shri Rishi Prabhakar, I have learnt pranayama, meditation, food habits and lifestyle.

My faith...

There are various aspects of our culture and religion that appeal to me. One is lighting the diya. I have seen my mother light a lamp at sunset. This gives me warmth and reminds me of childhood. My parents have always taught me to respect God and believe in oneself.

I remember once when I was still studying, I promised my parents that I would get 85%. Everyday I would go to the temple and pray desperately. But I didn't get 85%. Maybe I didn't study hard enough. Mere prayers dont help anyone achieve success in life; one has to work for it.

It was instilled in me that I am responsible for myself. I believe in the power of human beings and not in any miraculous supernatural power. I do not blame or hold anyone responsible for what happens in my life.

So Kul - So Cool...

Login to  www.loksatta.com to read what I have been writing.

So Kul - The Book...

Taking the association forward Loksatta & Rajhans Prakashan have just launched my Book 'So Kul' - a compilation of over 100 articles written by me in Loksatta Viva. I have updated those writeups, added certain things which are now relevant and have compiled them for the book. 

In high school, I attended a workshop by Pandit Satyadev Dubey and realised the importance of choosing one creative pursuit. And I was convinced that my calling was Acting. My brother Sandesh and I then established a theater group in Pune called Samanvay.

I have been a guest editor of Loksatta's supplement Viva, an Express group daily. Here I have written one column every week, published every Thursday. My column called So Kool, is my attitude in life and also happens to be the abbrevation of my name!