In an exploratory interview with Rani Mukerji, a name synonymous to versatility and eloquence, Saimik Sen seeks to contrive the spectrum of impeccable performances and the rhetoric charm with which Ms. Mukerji has enthralled the industry, stupefying a magic wand!
Over 50 movies and years of working in the industry, your contribution reflects versatility and volubility. Titled as ‘Queen of Bollywood’, In your own perception- How did Rani Mukerji emerge as one of the most powerful Indian women?
I have always believed that as an artist or an actor we are a product of the hard work all the technicians do behind us, whether Director, writers, editors, music directors or all the people who make us look larger than life and pretty on screen. There is so much of contribution of the entire technical department in making a star look so good on screen that our contribution will be as much as bringing a directors vision on screen and giving blood and flesh to a piece of paper.
Also I would say powerful woman is probably what no actor decides or can predict to become. It is the people, who actually watch your work, adore and admire you. They put faith in your work.The faith is that they keep coming again and again buying your movie tickets. They are the ones who make you powerful.
From a person who never dreamt of being an actress to becoming one and living it since last 20 years, the journey has been tremendous for me and my fans. Also I feel that once you make a relation with your audience, it needs to keep going.
A diverse range of films such as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Veer-Zaara, Black, Hey Ram, Mardaani in which you have made an impact with assured performances. How challenging has your journey been from Raja Ki Ayegi Baraat to date?
My journey was challenging but it was strange. Like how a bride in an arranged marriage gradually falls in love with her husband, I think that is what happened to me. I gradually fell in love with my work.
So whether it was RajakiAyegi Barat, where for me the only solace was that my mother asked me to give it a shot. I never had any pressure. I just treated it as another day at school, where I have to do my work diligently and the director should be happy with my work. I treated my films merely as a jobfor initial 3 years, the love came much later. It was when I read those lakhs of fan letters that I used to receive. Going through those letters made me realize that this is quite a serious business and I can’t treat it as a job. It has to be beyond that, and that’s when I think I fell in love with my craft and once I fell in love, there was no looking back. I changed according to my characters so that my fans can see a versatile me. So, whether Mardaani, or Black or Yuva, I made it a point that I put in more than my hundred percent.
What is your greatest achievement till date?
I think achievement would be just to be able to choose at this point of my career.
As an actor you go through different stages in your career. First when there is no choice, then the time comes when it is how much more noticed and better you want to be, striving to be the best, and then there comes a point where you no more have to run behind anything, whether fame or money or roles. You can sit back and choose! There is no pressure on you regarding anything.
Just that one film, I can be happy doing, or a role that is going to make my fans proud and love me even further.
In an Industry whelmed and dominated with male actors, being a female actor impinged you at any point of time?
Male actors have only affected me in a very positive way right from the start of my career. I was fortunate enough to start with Aamir, Shahrukh and Salman. I saw three different superstars, their dedication and hard work and this was something I imbibed from them. I made it my conduct to actually understand that even after years of being so successful, they are yet so hardworking, conscious and I think that’s the reason even after 25 years of work they are going strong and there is nobody who can actually touch them. These are the lessons you learn at the onset of your career and then you realize everybody struggles to get that one film right, because one Friday can change a lot of things. I feel the hunger in an actor should never die.
Journey of every film and character is different. How difficult is it to get into that skin and then revive and prepare for another. Which genre are you most comfortable with?
We have such talented technicians and they contribute so much to an actor. When they come with a film, they come to you with a lot of research and information about the character and how they see you in it. I would say that they already do half of your job, and then it is upon us to take that next half further. For me, it is about how I grasp that knowledge and whether I can add more to the character.
I have always told my directors that if I am not equally or more passionate than you, I don’t deserve to be in your film because then there is no point doing a favor on any one. As an actor I feel that it is very important to gage different characters and ask for help when needed. Also there are times you have to gauge half baked knowledge and see what more can be done. It is a collaborative effort of a lot of people under one roof.
What is your perception of an empowered woman? How far can entertainment industry contribute for the same?
An Empowered woman in industry would be successful directors, producers, women technicians or actors.
The industry and work is not gender specific. You could be a woman and you could be directing any film!
There are so many women directors who have changed the myth that a particular film can’t be made by a female director. I think that is empowerment.The time when I joined films, there surrounded a myth that good family girls don’t get into movies. But today we see a complete change, where families are encouraging their children to study cinema. Cinema is no longer looked upon as stigma, and I think that in it is a huge shift in the society and that is empowerment!
Movies for you are more about – reiterating people from monotonous routine through light entertainment or a medium to educate and communicate masses with strong messages.
I think it is a mix of both for me. You can’t imagine cinema only for educating!
You want to go see a movie which is thrilling, where you can have your popcorns, sip on your colas with ice-creams and you want to enjoy a good laugh or may be breath taking actions.
At the same time there are certain films that actually make you think and make you want to do something for the society. It draws your attention towards a particular cause, which probably in our daily busy life is never thought of.
So there are some films you that make you think and there are some films you just want to take your children or friends to and have a great time. I have been fortunate to be a part of both these kinds of cinema.
Be your own fortune teller! How do you see yourself 5 years down the line?
I definitely see myself with my kids. I see myself doing great work and challenging myself even further as an actor and a proffering great movieexperience to my fans!
Whom do you owe your success to?
When I say success –“it’s that huge body of work that I have done”
I owe it to my fans, my Directors, Producers, technicians, Co-stars and all those who made contributed till now. It is all because of my mother’s perseverance and her efforts that I could do this and definitely destiny.
Message- Love the job for the craft and for no other reason.