Life's looking up

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After a few non-shows, Rani Mukerji hopes ‘Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic’ will give her career a boost. rana siddiqui writes

She has always been a ‘bhalo main’ (good girl in Bengali). She chose films for a career because she “didn’t want to disappoint” her mother. She chose good films because she didn’t want to upset the audience. She wore revealing dresses because her mom would tell her, ‘It’s fine. It’s not you, it’s the character.’ She grew up “a little early” and “missed a great part of childhood because of busy shooting schedules.” She had to turn a wife/bahu and wear a sari in her Bollywood debut Raja Ki Ayegi Baraat, at 16. That’s Rani Mukerji for you.

Siddharth Anand’s Ta Ra Rum Pum and now Kunal Kohli’s Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic have brought out the child in her. Thoda… is the second film in which she has kids for company.

In this Yashraj-banner film, Rani plays an angel whom God sends to take care of four orphaned kids (played by Akshat Chopra, Shriya Sharma, Rachit Sidana and Ayushi Berman) who have to live with a tyrant, Ranbeer Talwar, as per a court verdict. Rani as Gita brings them together in this “quite a tear-jerker and yet a funny film”, as Kohli puts it.

Says Rani, “God (Rishi Kapoor) sends me on a cycle. I slide down the rainbow to land at Ranbeer’s house. To shoot this scene, I was harnessed at 7,000 metres above the land. I was scared but loved it. These are the advantages of working in a kid’s film. I ate a lot of chocolates with them (kids) and put on three kg.”

On the kids’ acting skills, she says, “They are impulsive actors. They will react to a scene the way they want, rather than blindly follow the director’s instructions. I used to be on my toes… ready to handle any reaction to avoid retakes.”

It is difficult to believe that Rani, who is considered one of the most accomplished actors in Bollywood, didn’t want to join the industry, despite her background. “My father was a film producer/distributor, a fact I did not want my friends in school to know, as decent families did not choose such a profession. But my mother wanted me to join films as my maternal aunt Debashree Roy is also an actor. Besides, I had this impression that only tall, smart and beautiful girls could become heroines. So when Salim uncle (of Salim-Javed fame) offered me the role in Aa Gale Lag Ja, opposite Jugal Hansraj, I was shocked. But my mom was very happy. She sent me for the audition, saying, ‘There is nothing wrong in trying it out. Girls crave for a chance like this and you are getting it sitting at home’. I was at an impressionable age and quite confused about what to choose for a career, so I agreed.”

She was given mini skirts to wear and dialogue to deliver. “They filled my eyes with glycerine… I was already shocked to see those mini dresses. I didn’t want to wear them. The glycerine left my eyes sticky. I couldn’t even open my eyes, so how could I deliver the dialogue?” Obviously, she failed her audition. “I was happy to get rejected,” she quips, adding, “Despite that Salim uncle said I was very photogenic and would do well.”

By then Rani had just finished her 12th class and had enrolled herself in Mithibai College. Meanwhile, she got an offer for Raja Ki Ayegi Baraat, which she accepted because she “didn’t want to let mom down. Since I had made up my mind about my career, I decided to take it seriously.”

Didn’t it hurt often that she didn’t live life the way she may have wanted? “It did initially. But when your decision makes others smile, you don’t mind losing yourself to it. The decision finally gave me respect, love, money, friends and a bonding with the audience. I was called a ‘cry baby.’ I still am. If I hurt someone, I secretly cry. So maybe I wouldn’t have been happy if I hadn’t chosen to work in films,” she adds.



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