Rani Mukerji at 25 in Hindi films: ‘You have to make films and roles that you can play at your age’

Rani Mukerji’s second half has been rich in experiments. The actor who ruled the Hindi film industry in recent times has been seen in films like Hichki and Mardaani lately, but is ready to lighten up as fan favorite Babli in the sequel, Bunty Aur Babli 2, which hit theaters Friday. The actress says she’s having fun in “this zone” as her daughter Adira loves to watch her dance. Rani is married to filmmaker Aditya Chopra and they have a 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 done to remain a relevant actress at the age of 43 when female actors fall victim to the concept of “durability”.

Excerpts from the interview:

What was it like getting back to the Bunty Aur Babli zone after making some very serious movies like Hickhi and Mardaani 2.

It’s actually amazing because I love to sing, I love to dance, I love to play those glamorous roles. But yes, my choice of film has 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 continue the role of Vimmi, her son has grown up and you will see the great chemistry she has with him. She has this lovely zest for life, it is such a lively 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 Hum Tum’s time.

We have this true love and respect for each other as artists and we have been friends too. We have been very honest with each other in terms of the kind of actors we are. When we work together, we work as a team. We do not compete with each other, we make each other better with each scene, and that is what is our magic. As actors, we both do not have an ego towards each other. We want to bring out the best in each other.

Our innate quality as actors is to be competitive. If they are not competitive with someone else, then they will be competitive with themselves. Secretly, I also think everyone wants to be the best, and when it comes to being competitive with themselves, it’s about being better than last.

We are both a ‘jodi’, so when two actors work as a couple, there must be love, admiration and respect for each other, as there should be in the marriage, for the relationship to move forward. Similarly, when you play a couple on screen, the more familiar you are with each other and each other’s presence, the better your chemistry on screen.

Aditya Chopra really showed courage and kept her films to the cinemas to reopen. How do you feel about his decision, since you are not only an actor here, but also invested as a producer wife?

I truly pay tribute to Aadi from my heart, because if I remove the fact that I am his wife, and look at him as a producer, my respect for him has grown a thousand times. For the past two years, the way he had handled times of need has proven why he is a leader. He has shown tremendous courage by withdrawing his films because he wants to honor theaters. It is very encouraging. As an actor, I feel very lucky to have been able to be a part of the film where the producer was strong enough to wait for a cinema premiere. His gravel, power and confidence have shown what kind of filmmaker he is and the value system he comes from.

Bunty Aur Babli 2 is a complete family entertainer, I did not say this to my other movies lately, but for this one I would say you can watch it with your kids as people will have a wonderful time watching it here.

How do you keep your passion for movies intact after 25 years of existence?

It’s so long ago, but let’s not say it so loud that people can hear. For someone who did not even want to be an actor, working in the industry has been extremely blessed. My fans have contributed tremendously to my time in the movies, they have accepted me in different roles at different ages, under different circumstances. They have forgiven me for my failure and picked me up by encouraging me to move on and keep getting better.

I think you have to believe in yourself, and you also have to make certain films and roles that you can handle at your age. If I’m trying to be a college girl today, I’m sure the audience will not accept me in that. The choice of characters, the choice of roles really means a lot that you want to keep working, especially if you are a female actress. I try to see what space my audience 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 of all ages. I play mom in Bunty Aur Babli 2, I’m a mom myself. I have always felt a need to make roles where people can relate to me.

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