Rani Mukerji’s second innings has been rich with experimentation. The actor who ruled the Hindi film industry during the aughts has been seen in films such as Hichki and Mardaani of late, but is ready to lighten up as fan favourite Babli in the sequel, Bunty Aur Babli 2 that released in theatres on Friday. The actor says that she is having fun in “this zone” as her daughter Adira loves seeing her dance. Rani is married to filmmaker Aditya Chopra and they have one child together.
In this interview with indianexpress.com, Mukerji talks about her ever-growing passion for perfection as she completes 25 years in the film industry, her chemistry with Saif Ali Khan and what she has been doing to stay a relevant actor at the age of 43 when female actors fall prey to the concept of “shelf life”.
Excerpts from the interview:
How was it coming back to Bunty Aur Babli zone after doing some very serious films like Hickhi and Mardaani 2.
It is great actually because I love singing, I love dancing, I love playing playing these glamorous roles. But, yes, my choice of films have been different for a while and Bunty Aur Babli gives me the opportunity to go completely crazy with my styling and look. I went back to the masti zone and a role that I did back then. I’m carrying forward the role of Vimmi, her son has grown up and you’ll see the great chemistry she has with him. She has this lovely zest for life, it is such a spirited character. I envy her at times as she is so confident and flamboyant.
Seeing you and Saif Ali Khan share screen-space has always been magical, since the time of Hum Tum.
We have this genuine love and respect for each other as artists, and also we’ve been friends. We’ve been very honest with each other in terms of the kind of actors that we are. When we work together, we work as a team. We are not competing with each other, we make each other better with each scene, and that’s what is our magic. As actors, both of us don’t have an ego with each other. We want to bring out the best in each other.
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Our innate quality as actors is to be competitive. If they are not competitive with somebody else, then they’ll be competitive with themselves. Also, secretly, I think, everyone wishes to be the best, and when it comes to being competitive with themselves, it is about being better than the last time.
We both are a ‘jodi’, so when two actors are working as a couple there has to be love, admiration and respect for one another like there should be in marriage, for the relationship to go forward. The same way, when you play a couple on-screen, the more you’re comfortable with each other and each other’s presence, the better your chemistry is on screen.
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Aditya Chopra really showed courage, holding his films for theatres to reopen. How do you feel about his decision, as here you are not just an actor but also invested as a producer’s wife?
I really salute Aadi from my heart because if I take away the fact that I am his wife, and look at him as a producer, my respect for him has grown a thousand fold. In the last two years, the way he had handled times of distress has proven why he is a leader. He has shown immense courage by pulling back his films because he wants to honour theatres. It is very heartening. As an actor, I feel very fortunate that I have been able to be a part of the film where the producer was strong enough to wait for a theatrical release. His grit, power and confidence has shown the kind of filmmaker he is and the values system he comes from.
Bunty Aur Babli 2 is a complete family entertainer, I didn’t say this for my other films in the recent past, but for this one, I’d say that you can watch it with your children as people will have a wonderful time watching this.
How do you keep your passion for films intact after being around for 25 years?
It has been so long, but let’s not say it so loudly that people can hear. For someone who didn’t even want to be an actor, working in the industry has been extremely blessed. My fans have contributed immensely to my time in the movies, they have accepted me in different roles at different ages, in different circumstances. They have forgiven me for my failure and picked me up by encouraging me to move ahead and keep getting better.
I think you have to believe in yourself, and you also have to do certain films and roles that you can pull off at your age. If today I try to be a college girl, I am sure the audiences won’t accept me in that. The choice of characters, the choice of roles really matter a lot of you want to continue working, especially if you are a female actor. I try seeing what space my audiences would like to see me in, and that’s what I do. A film like Mardani or Hichki does not really have an age attached to it, one can be a cop or a teacher at any age. I play a mother in Bunty Aur Babli 2, I am a mother myself. I have always felt the need to do roles where people can relate to me.