Subhash K Jha
Starting her career in a low-budget movie, Rani Mukherjee has climbed the ladder of success with patience and perseverance and with the recent blockbuster â€˜Blackâ€™, she has quietly sneaked into a new bright world leaving her contemporaries behind.
Seven years ago Rani started her career with Salim Aftabâ€™s â€˜Raja Ki Aayegi Baraatâ€™. The small film became a big success in the smaller centres. Everyone said: â€œAh, Kajolâ€™s cousin is here. Letâ€™s give her a second look.â€ Today after â€˜Blackâ€™, Rani has left the amazing Kajol behind.
For a long time, I thought Rani Mukherjee was a fluke success. She was here, there and everywhere... always at the right place at the right time. So when â€˜Saathiyaâ€™ happened to her career I didnâ€™t recognise it for what it was: a new beginning for a very confident and focused actress. When â€˜Saathiyaâ€™ came in December 2002, Rani had no assignments on hand. She had decided sheâ€™d let this film speak for her. Looking back, I canâ€™t but wonder how Rani couldâ€™ve been so recklessly confident. If â€˜Saathiyaâ€™ hadnâ€™t worked sheâ€™d have been finished.
â€œI know,â€ she laughed throatily when I pointed this out to her recently. â€œBut you see, at that point of time nothing that was coming my way excited me. Iâ€™d have rather not done any work than done work that didnâ€™t excite me. I knew â€˜Saathiyaâ€™ was a special film. I felt it while making it...â€ This in spite of the fact that there was friction between Rani and Vivek Oberoi during the closing schedules of â€˜Saathiyaâ€™. Itâ€™s very rare for Rani not to get along with her cast and crew. Without going into details about what went wrong between them, Iâ€™d like to say Vivek must be the only co-star in the world Rani wouldnâ€™t want to work with again.
Today Rani is in the new projects of every filmmaker who matters, from Shaad Ali to Karan Johar... they all love her. Says her â€˜Blackâ€™ director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, â€œLook at her track record. In two years she has gone way beyond all competition... â€˜Hum Tumâ€™, â€˜Veer-Zaaraâ€™ and now â€˜Blackâ€™, three hits in a row! Which of her colleagues has that advantage?â€ Rani laughs pleasurably at the compliment. â€œCan you imagine what would have happened to my career if Yash (Chopra) uncle hadnâ€™t come forward to offer me â€˜Saathiyaâ€™? All that happened afterwards â€” â€˜Chalte Chalteâ€™, â€˜Hum Tumâ€™, â€˜Yuvaâ€™, â€˜Veer-Zaaraâ€™ and now â€˜Blackâ€™ â€” was because of the faith Yash uncle had in me,â€ she says emotionally.
The film industry is divided into two sections. Those whoâ€™re working with Rani and those who want to. Sheâ€™s currently hotter than any actress in India. But she isnâ€™t in a mood to sign too many films. Right now, as I write, sheâ€™s shooting for Shah Rukh Khanâ€™s new production, â€˜Paheliâ€™, which Amol Palekar directs.
One of the many pleasures of doing â€˜Paheliâ€™ is that Rani gets to work with her â€˜Blackâ€™ co-star Amitabh Bachchan all over again. â€œYes, in my next release too, thatâ€™s Shaad Aliâ€™s â€˜Bunty Aur Babliâ€™, Amit uncle and I come together again.â€
I find Rani post-â€™Blackâ€™ to be more relaxed than ever before. On the night after the premiere of â€˜Blackâ€™ at Bhansaliâ€™s place, she wasnâ€™t walking â€” she was waltzing on air. Rani danced around the room, showed off her newly slimmed figure, rattled off some heart-warming compliments for â€˜Blackâ€™, and heartily dug into the biryani that Bhansaliâ€™s mom had prepared. Success made Rani glow like never before.
Rani is quite amazed at the turn of events. â€œWorking with Sanjay Bhansali was truly a big leap for me as an artiste and a human being. Iâ€™ve learnt so much! And yet thereâ€™s a need within me to learn so much more. Thereâ€™re lots more for me to do.â€ And marriage? â€œOnly if I want to have babies!â€