She has made many a heart beat at her tunes. She symbolizes Beauty with Brains, that too with consummate ease and comfort. When it comes to a punch of fun, masti, intelligence and intellectuality, no one comes even close to her. She might have just gone in for a short hibernation before she banged the box office charts yet another time. She proudly retorts that she never took a break, so there was no point of having a comeback!!!
From a shy girl next door to a loving wife to a confident blind girl, she has done it all. Now, with her high octane performance as the fearless Meera Gaiti in No One Killed Jessica, she has climbed back the ladder and now is resting at the position which belongs completely to her. And Rani ko hatana looks impossible at the moment.
Undoubtedly, the most versatile actress that Bollywood has ever produced, she is an absolute charmer. When many people felt she is gone, she outdid herself with her criminal journalist act in NOKJ. That definitely did put her critics to a long term silence.
She rose like a phoenix and proved the world what she is actually made up of. And with Reema Kangti’s “Talaash” and another movie coming up later this year, she is on a high! People who don’t know her personally might feel she is such a snob, thanks to the baseless media reports that need to be quashed then and there. Trust us, she is completely vivacious and bubbly just like we see her while she lights up the silver screen with her enigmatic presence and immense acting prowess. So, here we bring you the many shades of Rani Mukherjee, completely Unplugged..
Passion, glamour, glitz, hard work, ability and expressions. A blend of which of the characteristics do you see in a potential actress?
I think it has to be an amalgamation of all the things that you have said, all the lovely words and expressions that you have used. I believe that an actor has to have the ability to perform because that is the most important thing for an actor. Obviously expression comes with that. It’s another part of your ability because we actors have to express a lot of things with your dialogue, with your eyes, with your body language. Its even the way you are that expresses a lot in terms of the character that you are portraying. Now, passion is definitely a very very integral ingredient in anything that you do in life. Passion is something that you can’t do without. Whatever you do in life, passion is the most important thing. So, yes definitely for an actress, if she is not passionate about her work, she will not be able to be there for the longer run. Probably passion sums up the whole aspect. And glamorous definitely, because a lot of people aspire to be an actor, so when you go to watch an actress on the big screen, which is also called the silver screen, everybody wants to see the actress in a glamorous avatar. Its like how we say, “Larger than Life”. So every actress also has to be larger than life in terms of glamour. So obviously, she has to be glamorous as well. You can get nowhere without hard work. So, hard work is also a very important ingredient. You have to work really hard to achieve anything that you want in life. Nothing comes easy. So, I guess it definitely has to be an amalgamation of everything.
There was a time, when you rocked the entire nation with movies like Black, Hum Tum and others. But right at the peak of your career, you decided to take a break. Why did you take such a big risk?
I did not take any break as such. I was working round the clock. It’s only that I chose to do few films: films that I really believed in. And unfortunately those films did not click at the box office. So people put that as a break of mine (Laughs). But I have actually not taken a break since a very long time. Since the age of 17, I don’t think I have taken a break at all. I am still working and I am still on. People’s perception is obviously different because everybody perceives an actor in a different way. Today when I get a hit, for example, with Jessica, people changed their perceptions and so again when I will have my releases next year, people will again change their perceptions. So it is all about different perceptions at different times of your career. But, I am okay with anything, as long they are lovely and they support me.
Its 15 years that you have been acting in this industry. How did everything start in your life? How did your first movie happen?
Actually I never wanted to be an actor. It is something that my mother wished for me. She felt I should become an actress and my first movie was just fulfilling her wish. That was Raja ki Ayegi Baraat. And that started my journey into films. Then it just became a part of me and there was no looking back.
And then Kuch Kuch hota Hai came and took you to new heights.
Ya, first I think it was Ghulam. Ghulam basically paved the pathway for me and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai gave me the ladder.
So in these 15 years that you have spent in the industry, how much of a change could you see?
Change is always a constant in every sphere, in every place in every person’s life. In every person’s career, change is a constant. Obviously, Bollywood has also changed with each passing year, specially the way the people and the audiences have perceived cinema. The films that have been made in these 15 years have had a lot of changes. In terms of the characters that women play in Hindi cinema, it is kind of evolving each day. There has been a lot of change and with every year, the kind of audience keeps changing. The youth keeps changing every year. When I started off as an actress, the people who were the youth brigade then have become adults now. They have grown out of the youth thing. So every generation gives these thumbs up for a certain kind of a movie.
I wouldn’t say that. I think professionalism has always been a constant in the film industry. Yes, there will be exceptions probably, who don’t follow the professional route but in a larger picture, I feel professionalism has always been an integral part of Bollywood. So, I wouldn’t say that has changed. I would rather put it this way: It has become more corporate these days. And I feel it is because of the corporations getting into the picture, relationships are better now. Nowadays, everything is very open. In the beginning they weren’t open and that was the main reason of certain unhealthy things happening. But now the relationships are crystal clear.
You came back with Dil bole Hadippa after tenure of around 1 and half years where you kind of made yourself ready. So did you feel any pressure then?
I don’t really agree with the word ‘You came back’! I don’t understand why an actor always should keep coming back with each film that he comes with. Why doesn’t this term be used with an actor who comes after a year? Why does everyone have to call it a comeback? Its never a comeback. It is just the next film. I have a problem with the question and the terminology used in the question stating ‘comeback’!!! It is always used for an actress. But it is okay when an actor takes out time from a particular project and comes with a release. You never make a comeback with each film of yours na? When you take a break, that break is for a physical reason. You might be getting married or having children. For an actress, the break is only during that time, because you cant physically put your self through the strain of shooting when you are pregnant. But, in Bollywood those norms also break because there have been so many women who worked even during their pregnancy. So ‘come back’ is for people who live films for 4-5 years and then you know they are coming back. But in my case, I have been working every year.
Playing Meera Gaiti was tough but you pulled it off with perfection…
For me, any role that excites me and is new for me is equally like a dream role. I don’t plan and decide ki ok next yeh karna hai ya this is next on my agenda. I think I have been very fortunate that time and again, people or directors and filmmakers have come to me with roles which have given me a lot of opportunity to challenge myself as an actor. So that way, I have been quite lucky. I got the roles sitting at home.
The Media has always tried to portray you as a very arrogant, snobbish actress. But in reality, you are exactly the opposite. Do these rumours affect you anyhow?
What like happens is, when you are going to go out there in the public view, there will be people who will try and pull you down. They will say things about you because there always will be a kind of distraction always. There will be people who will detract people because there will be questions as to how can she be so nice, why is she so loved and all. It has to have an end to it. When people come with that kind of a mentality, they try to search for them. And when they don’t get something they start making their own stories. They are coming with a set mind. The journalists who have met me or those who meet me even now; my journey and my interactions with them have been very nice. I think most of them are very happy. They are even satisfied meeting with me or whatever. Then the ones who don’t get an opportunity to meet me or to talk to me, obviously they will spread kind of malicious rumours. Their anger is for a different reason: that arrey we didn’t get her interview or she didn’t talk to us or why isn’t she talking to us and talking to that person. So all these things happen but I don’t blame them. Their entire earning of bread and butter is through that field. So, they will try and make as much as they can. There is no reason to grudge because God has given so much. You have to see the positive side and go on with that. We can’t get bogged down by these little little rumours that keep jumping from here to there. We can’t react to everything.
My equations with all three of them are on different levels. They love me dearly. So, on my end I think that is a very simple thing because they all have a lot of love for me and affection for me from the beginning. I have worked with them at a very nascent age, at a very nascent time in my career when I was just starting off. So they have a lot of admiration and love for me. That has continued over a decade. And I am sure it will remain forever. Its from both the sides. Even I absolutely love them and adore them.
But still, if you were asked to pick any one of them to whom you are the closest, who would you choose and why?
I would never choose. When I have all three, why should I choose? I am close to them on a different level. You don’t define closeness-with whom its more or less. Its either you are close to a person or you are not close to a person. I am close to all of them.
You have also signed another film besides ‘Talaash’.
Yes and I started shooting for it in October last year. It is called Aiyya and it is a quirky love story produced by Anurag Kashyap and Viacom. The director is Sachin Kundalkar, who is a Marathi film maker. He is making his first Hindi film. And Prithwiraj is this actor from Malayalam films who is working opposite me in the film.
With actresses like Juhi, Madhuri, Karisma, Raveena, Sridevi leaving the scenario, there was a void in the industry. Then you, Kajol, Priety tried to fill it up.But since you are doing limited films and Priety has completely resorted into a shell, there is again a void. Do you agree?
No, I don’t think so. I think Kajol came at the same time of Raveena and all. Even Karisma, Juhi: they all were in the same league. They were the contemporaries. I think Aish, sushmita, Priety and me: We were contemporaries. And coming to that void part, I am assuring you something. I am doing more films. Don’t worry I am there. There is not going to be any void from my side. I am going to be forever. ‘Forever Rani’ that is the headline.
Have you really decided to do just one film per year following Aamir’s footsteps?
Of course it will increase. The minute I get a role that excites me; I will work back to back. See, the difference is I will only take up a job when I am completely passionate about it. As I had told you, for being an actress, you have to have everything. It has to be an amalgamation. So, if I am not passionate about the role that I am playing, then there is no point doing the role. Because somewhere down the line, the audience will catch it. So I have to always do a film or a role which really excites me.
You and Shah Rukh have been the most favourite on screen couple for the decade now. So when do we get to see you both together again?
I would like to work with him tomorrow only. Maybe even today itself!!! But again, when me and Shah Rukh work, it has to be the correct script, the correct kind of a thing. Hopefully soon because as I said, I have completed a full circle since I am working with Aamir again. The circle will start amalgamating once when Shah Rukh and Salman come into the picture. It will become my trio of Ghulam, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Hello Brother. Again the same thing will be repeated even here, I am sure. I am actually very very excited about Aiyya. You know after very long, I am doing a kind of a comedy and a musical. So there will be lot of dances, lot of comedy in Aiyya. So I am really looking forward to this film and it reaches my fans as quickly as possible.
A role that you wish you had done: Probably I would like to play Chulbuli Pandey from Dabanngg
A tagline that best describes you: Can’t think of anything.. (Pauses and replies) Queen of Hearts
One character you played that is similar to what you are in real life: Babli from Bunty aur Babli.
Something about Rani that the world is unaware of: I can bake very good cakes.
Your favourite cuisine: Indian
Rani goes bananas over: Food
A thing/ a body part in you that according to you makes you look better: My smile. My mouth.
A trait in you that you want to change: None
Something that you are obsessed about: Food, again!!!
Five words that best describes you: Baap re baap!!! (Laughs and then continues) Charming, intelligent, comedian, hot and passionate.
One actor/ actress who you think is better than you: Amitabh Bachchan and Madhuri Dixit
Last phone call you made was to: Vaibhavi (Merchant).
If you were given a chance where you had to be born as someone else, who would that be and why?: I would like to be the male version of myself. Born as myself as a man. The traits would be different. I wont be Rani. I will be the male version of myself. So it wont be like me.
A question that you wish people asked you: When are you going to get an Oscar
And the answer to that would be: As soon as destiny places me at the right place.