Sonnalli Seygall : A cover Story

Candy & Bounty – Sonnalli’s Sweet Treats

From dislike to devotion, the actress has been touched by the power of canine love. Lyle Michael experiences, first-hand, the joy that Sonnalli Seygall is surrounded by when she has her girls Candy and Bounty by her side; a pretty picture, indeed!

‘The greatest love is a mother’s; then a dog’s; then a sweetheart’s’, the Polish proverb comes close to defining the starlet’s’ ‘love life’ and goes on to characterise her as a family-minded, animal-loving, grounded individual with a taste for the good life. Literally, for Sonnalli is a food lover, too! Just the right ingredients for a well-balanced lifestyle, as we know it. Mother to nine-year-old Dalmatian Candy and sister to six-year-old Labrador Bounty, she gives us a taste of pet parent/sisterhood behind the scenes and it’s a sweet one to relish.

In conversation with the tall and attractive Sonnalli Seygall – the model/actress and TV show host who made her entry into stardom with the Miss India Worldwide 2006 competition standing tall as a finalist and into Bollywood with Pyaar ka Punchnama in 2011 – we discover we go way back. No, it’s not dogs, but chocolate. Posing as a chocolate-coated model on the ramp at the Chocolate Fashion Show at the UpperCrust Food & Wine Show in 2006, Sonnalli would never have imagined this day, nine years later, when her furballs would be the models of another magazine published by us, and we would be talking dogs, not food! Well, that’s fate!

Much like how Sonnalli came to be a dog lover, then a pet parent. “I used to dislike dogs eight years ago,” she catches us by surprise. “I would visit my hometown Calcutta once a year when staying in Bombay with my flatmates and pursuing my dreams of a career in Bollywood. On one such visit, I was introduced to Candy, a rescued Dalmatian from the Blue Cross Shelter brought home by my brother Ayush (a true blue animal lover). That’s when I realised I was missing something in my life.” And so, and after several evenings on Juhu beach led to her befriending a friendly Golden Retriever, Sonnalli decided she wanted to adopt a pet herself. Bounty thus came into her life, a lil’ Labrador girl, fitting in snuggly with her flatmates, winning them over with her understanding nature, and keeping them entertained with her naughty antics. Shortly after, when Sonnalli’s mum shifted to Bombay, along came a gal pal for Bounty, by the name of Candy and it’s been a riot ever since, with the former dominating the elder, yet respectful of her seniority!

Begins Sonnalli, “Candy is a quiet girl; in fact was much traumatised when she was younger. She will sit in a car but not in a cab. She could have been thrown out of one, for all you know, and is still afraid of public and doesn’t get along with other dogs. Unfortunately, she is developing glaucoma now and is on meds for a heart condition. But Candy is a doll.” That would be Sonnalli’s mum’s doll more, while Bounty is all hers. For the bouncy Lab stands as a symbol of fearless abandon, for her mistress to be proud of and emulate, we’re told. “Confident, happy and emotional, very expressive and intelligent – that’s Bounty. Candy is more the cautious one, like my mum, more playful and athletic, too, but not as disciplined. Oh and she loves food!” shares mamma Sonnalli. The girls have their fixed meal times and enjoy khichdi, carrots and cucumbers. Bounty loves her share of chicken. Treats are avoided, save for birthdays – 27th March for Candy and 31st Jan for Bounty – when the celebrations involve caps and cake, walks on the beach, gifts and dress-up – the latter more a treat for Sonnalli. And a visit by Ayush for Candy’s big day, each year without fail!

It is a bond beyond measure, between pet parent and the lil’ ones, who have taken well to the staff when mamma is away, travelling on shoots for long. Animal-loving and responsible is a high requisite for the help appointed at the Seygall household and they have been fortunate in this regard. Since both mum and daughter work, the help play a big part in the upbringing and care of the two girls. “That’s true, but when I am home, I try my best to spend as much time with time,” says Sonnalli, “take them for walks, play with them, sleep with them. Like with Bounty, she has her own side on my bed and we keep up to it. She hates for me to go away!” And vice-versa, for Sonnalli, the devoted pet lover and animal do-gooder, it is tough staying away from her furballs.

Now when we say do-gooder, the actress – who gets involved in several social action programmes such as the #BeWithBeti campaign – relates an incident that dates back to when she was shooting for Pyaar ka Punchnama late at night. As she drove down Juhu Tara Road with her co-star Omkar, she spotted a wounded GSD near the Bachchan bungalow, and took him to the Parel Animal Hospital, further acquiring the help of NGO YODA. The most that the rescue accomplished was probably to ease his pain in his last few hours as the dog passed away eventually. Shares Sonnalli, “It is hard to imagine people can be so cruel to such loving beings. I am so glad I have turned a dog lover now, for I realise what a void existed in my life prior to this. Without Candy and Bounty, coming home would just not be the same.”

Amen to that!

On that note, after a tiring day for the three divas, we call it a wrap and find it hard to tear our gaze away from the two furry girls getting ready for some shut-eye. Content and at peace, with mum Sonnalli at home and not much to worry about. It’s a dog’s life! For now, she says, the busybee who just wrapped up shoots for two films that released close together, Pyaar ka Punchnama 2 and Wedding Pulav. Oh the lives of the fast and fabulous, it’s a good thing you have pets to keep you grounded and calm your nerves. With Sonnalli Seygall, it’s double the therapy, a dolce vita with Candy and Bounty making up her world.

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