Rani Mukerji is reprising her character of Shivani Shivaji Roy in Mardaani 2, a sequel to her 2014 film Mardaani. In the latest movie, Shivani Roy is up against a young criminal who is raping and murdering women in the city of Kota.
In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, Rani Mukerji said that she channelised her anger about all the crimes committed against women into her character Shivani. She also opened up about life in the last five years, advice she’d like to give to her daughter Adira when she grows up and her personal reasons to watch Mardaani 2, which releases on December 13.
Excerpts from the conversation:
Q. Has Shivani Shivaji Roy become angrier in Mardaani 2?
I think Shivani is always angry with perpetrators of crime. She is a no-nonsense cop. If there’s any crime committed against a woman, she’s going to stand up against that. And of course, she is angry because that is what has been happening around us. The anger is growing, and somewhere it has come out through a passage. For me, the passage and the place where I have channelised my anger into is Shivani Shivaji Roy.
Q. Have the recent rape cases made Mardaani 2 all the more relevant?
I think when we started making this film, we already knew that the topic is relevant because in the past after the Nirbhaya case, there have been many instances where these things have happened from where we actually took inspiration and made this film. The movie is inspired by true events. And unfortunately, in this month, there have been really horrific things that have (happened). It makes me speechless to actually think that something like that is actually happening around us while we talk about the film. It’s really, really sad. I can’t even begin to think what their families must be going through at this point. It’s just beyond me to even comprehend what they must be going through.
Q. How much of Rani Mukerji is there in Shivani Shivaji Roy?
Fully! She is there wholeheartedly because Rani is also a no-nonsense person. I speak my heart. I stand up for what I feel is right. And she’s absolutely like me, or I would say I am absolutely like her. Yes, she is inspired by all the women officers that I have met through my research work. But at the end of the day, Shivani is a woman, and she is what all of us are.
Q. Does it become difficult or easy when a woman leads a film on woman issues?
You connect with every other aspect of her being. You understand her challenges, strengths and weaknesses. And that’s what makes Shivani a true human in the film because she goes through all these emotions. I believe that every girl in India possesses superpowers because of the way she balances her work and personal life. Only super-humans can do this.
Q. Does it become physically and mentally draining to play such characters?
It is physically and mentally draining because these are films inspired by true events. So obviously, it disturbs you. But at the same time, my character Shivani inspires me to be more empowered. And I feel empowered when I play her because she is bringing perpetrators to justice.
Q. Is Mardaani a female-centric answer to films like Singham or Simmba?
We have such brave female officers in the police force. It was high time that we showcase their bravery and courage to the rest of the country.
Q. The main villain of Mardaani 2 has been kept under wraps. Why?
I think that is the strategy that they (producers) have probably taken. He is amazing in the film. He is going to shock a lot of people with his talent. He’s done an exceptional job. And I am sure that people are going to be very excited to know who he is after they watch his work.
Q. You continue to stay away from social media. Don’t you feel it’s time you have a direct connect with fans?
My direct contact is through my films. And that is how I connect with them because they are the people who inspire me to keep working. It is them who keeps me relevant. It is them who gives me this loyalty and love. And I am going to be forever indebted to them for giving me so much love. Sometimes they don’t get to know how much I care and value them because obviously, I don’t have the direct connect. But through your channel and all the mediums, I always give them a big thank you. I say a big thank you to them for having this kind of faith in me and loving me for so many years.
Q. How do you look back at life, say in last 5-6 years?
I think it’s been wonderful since my marriage and the birth of my daughter. I think I have kind of fulfilled a cycle by giving birth to my child. I am enjoying motherhood to the fullest. I love being a mother. I think I am really blessed to have Adira in my life.
Q. If Adira wants to get into films, what advice would you give her as a mother and artiste?
I don’t need to advise her. I think she will lead the way. I am only there to love and nurture her. The rest is her decision.
Also see photos: Rani Mukerji’s daughter Adira Chopra’s birthday bash
Q. What kind of film legacy would you like to leave behind?
I would like to be acknowledged as a true student of cinema. I have always wanted to learn more and achieve more diversity in my roles.
Q. Has your script selection process changed in any way?
For me, it is very spontaneous and instinctive. Whenever I choose a role, it is something that connects with me or has some resonance, whether it is comedy, drama, thriller or a socially relevant film.
Q. What are your five reasons to watch Mardaani 2?
I think the first and foremost reason would be that this is a film for everybody, not only women but also men. So that’s the first reason. Second reason is that it’s a very empowering film. The third reason is it is a film that educates you and also makes you aware of the growing threat that we are facing today in our society. Fourth reason, I think should be that it’s going to be a film, which is going to keep you on the edge of your seat because it’s a thriller. And fifth would be it’s my movie, so you got to go and watch it.