Rani Mukerji: Born to act

The Hichki star has proved her versatility by enacting several complex roles with ease over the past two decades

Published: Apr 25, 2018

I am Senior Assistant Editor with the Forbes India magazine in Mumbai. A journalist for over a decade, I am also the author of Ramakant Achrekar: Master Blaster’s Master, a biography of the great cricket coach, and Vinod Kambli: The Lost Hero, a biography of the former India cricketer. Apart from my love for news and writing, I am passionate about cricket, movies and music

 g_105199_hichki_bg_280x210.jpgRani Mukerji in a still from Hichki. The actor has won widespread praise for her performance in the film which saw her return to the silver screen after four years
Image: Hitesh Mulani

There’s nothing that’s left for Rani Mukerji to prove. For two decades, she has effortlessly portrayed diverse characters in multiple films and showcased her prowess as an actor. From bringing freshness to the screen in films like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) and Ghulam (1998) early on to taking on author-backed roles in Mardaani (2014) and Hichki (2018) later, she has proved why she remains one of the finest actors of her generation.

The success of her latest film, Hichki, which saw her return to the silver screen after four years, further validates that point. However, Mukerji is not someone to take acceptance from critics and the audience for granted. In an interview with Forbes India, she speaks about her nervousness of facing the camera for the first time since Mardaani and the many thoughts swirling in her mind then. She is aware that she’s in a business where actors are told how good they are on a Friday. “Jab taaliyan padti hai tab samajh mein aata hai kay kuch accha jaa raha hai. Jab jootein padte hai tab lagta hai kay shaayad theek nahi gaya (When you are applauded for your work, you know things are going right. And when you’re criticised, you know something has probably gone wrong),” she says.

This understanding has helped her evolution as an actor. She says she chooses roles that she feels emotionally connected with and tries to make them appear as real as possible. Which is why it would be a challenge for her to play a negative character because “I don’t think I have a negative bone in my body”. “I’ll have to go against my grain as a human being to play such a part,” says Mukerji.
 
Now a mother to a two-year-old daughter, Adira, Mukerji is known to be an emotional, family-oriented person. She was so consumed with bringing up her daughter that she had to be reminded by her husband, Yash Raj Films boss Aditya Chopra, that she was an actor. He insisted that she face the camera again with Hichki. “It made me realise I cannot forget my first family, which is my audience because of whom I am who I am today,” says Mukerji.
 
Her emotional side also helps her enact various characters as she believes you have to be a compassionate person yourself to play varied roles. Filmmakers believe it’s a trait that separates her from a lot of actors and forms a direct connect with the audience.

Mukerji has indeed come a long way from not wanting to be an actor during her initial years. Today, she says she cannot think of herself to be anything else. “There’s a line in Hichki that says I was born to be a teacher; I can relate it to my real life and say I was born to be an actor. That’s the only thing I know,” she says.

This is a teaser to the Rani Mukerji profile which appears in the May 25, 2018, edition of
Forbes India. The issue hits stands on May 11.

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