Though Rani Mukerji has enacted flamboyant and cheerful characters on-screen, in real life, she isn’t anything like that. Rani, now a Chopra khandaan bahu, talks in measured words and is extremely secretive about her personal life, especially after her marriage to producer-director Aditya Chopra. Having worked with successful filmmakers and romanced the influential actors of her time, Rani is currently promoting her new film, Mardaani, produced by her own production house, Yash Raj Films, where she’ll be seen essaying the powerful character of a cop. In an interesting chat with the honey-eyed actor at YRF office, she tells us about her inclination to do Mardaani and also about gender bias in Bollywood.
Usually, actresses are not really keen to do a role like Mardaani which is quite deglam. Why did you choose a script with such a serious subject? Is it because the movie is produced by Yash Raj Films?
As a team player of Mardaani, I will always be biased towards my film because I’m very touched that I’m part of such a project. Had I not been part of Mardaani, I would have still paid money to watch the film because the promo is quite intriguing. It’s a film which will make women feel inspired and it will invoke Mardaani spirit in every woman who is the hour of the day. We always keep debating as to who’s the superior sex and to change the poor law and order system of our country. Nobody knows when it’s going to change and there’s no point debating about it; rather I feel we should try to find a solution thereby attempting to make few women-oriented films that will inspire women to speak up and become stronger. My request to every parent is to send their daughters to defense classes at a young age so that by the time she’s an adult she could protect herself. We have to inspire our next generation to do something only then India will be shining. Through Mardaani, I have got an opportunity as an artist to speak my mind and to take my anger in a positive way. The film gives message – apni andar ki mardaani ko jagaao.
Mardaani is the first Yash Raj Films movie to get an ‘A’ certificate. Don’t you think the film’s message will be targeted to a limited audience?
I don’t think so because people who will watch the film will inculcate the values – to respect women in their children and that will help spread word among the large part of the audience.
Whenever a successful female star plays a strong character like Mardaani, they always have a new actor opposite her and not established actors. Why is that?
Whenever I have done a strong role, I had Shah Rukh Khan opposite me or for that matter Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and Shahid Kapoor. I believe every film, be it a love story or otherwise, a heroine’s role is equally important otherwise how the story will go forward. It’s not about a newcomer or a star; it is about the length of a particular role. If there’s a big budget film but I don’t have any role in it, will I do it? For example, in films like Seeta Aur Geeta or Chaalbaaz, male parts were equally strong. If a female journalist writes ‘female centric’ then she’s degrading herself. She writes a ‘male-dominated’ film, but she doesn’t mention ‘male centric’. So then why a movie with a woman protagonist is termed as a woman-centric film? You should start writing movies in the genre format rather than writing it in the gender format. Only after that things will change.
When the script of Mardaani was narrated to you and you were told to do action sequences, what was your reaction? Were you apprehensive?
Not at all because I feel there’s nothing a woman can’t do. I was excited because I thought I will take something home through this film, be it learning defense technique or things a lady cop has to undergo. As an actor, if I am protected by bodyguard today it doesn’t mean I’m not responsible to take care of myself. I could be on a vacation and I could encounter an unfortunate experience. One has to be prepared all the time. It’s important for me to feel empowered and be confident enough to defend myself.
You’ve done hardcore action scenes for the first time. Was it physically strenuous?
The body language of a cop is different. And my character Shivani Shivaji Roy has to stand out more than Rani Mukherji. And I have tried to give all my characters some different look because that’s what I feel is an actor’s contribution to his or her character and to make it as real as it can be. If I look like my character, 50 percent of the battle is won. I work hard in terms of trying to emulate and get my body language and look correct. It was challenging to do action in the film as it was all real but I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Kareena Kapoor Khan recently said that post marriage she’ll take on less work. What are you going to do?
I’m newly married. The first year of marriage is considered as honeymoon period. My honeymoon started with Mardaani’s promotion. My priorities will be depending on what is happening in my life at that time. The way I used to take care of my parents, I will do the same for my husband and give him time. But at the same time I’ll try to balance my personal and professional life. Luckily, I have got a husband who’s got a very modern approach to life. He allows me to live life the way I want to.
Surprisingly, Aditya hasn’t directed you ever on-screen. Post marriage is there any possibility of you working in a movie directed by him?
No, I don’t think so I’ll be able to take his (Aditya’s) direction. A director is always supposed to be the captain of the ship and you have to work very professionally with the director because of that. I like to give away orders and not take any. There will be moments when your director will shout at you and give you orders but I’m happy to be his wife. I would not like him to tell me what to do. I don’t like to take his orders. So its better that I don’t act in a movie directed by him.
Aditya has directed successful love stories in the past. How romantic is he as an individual?
That’s too personal but to put it in a general way, I would say nobody can write such love stories if that person itself is not a romantic at heart.
Rumours about your pregnancy are talk of the town…
Rumours of my marriage started much before I was actually married. So it’s great that the rumours of my pregnancy are doing the rounds. If that’s the case then I’m sure everything will work out for me and the universe will make it happen.
What would you say about pregnancy clause?
It depends on which director is really keen to work with me while I’m in a pregnant state. There are many actresses who have worked in films after being pregnant. Every pregnancy is different and every woman goes through her bodily changes. It depends and I feel it’s a far-fetched thing. Firstly, I need to get pregnant then I need to understand whether the script I’ve got is important to do that time. It’s every woman’s dream to achieve the title of a mother. So for me whenever it happens it will be great.
Was it upsetting considering it was too early for people to write about your pregnancy?
It doesn’t matter because I’m in an industry where I need to be judged and if people stop judging me then it will be over. So its great… let them judge and comment because any news bad or good is news.
Uday Chopra expressed his wish to make a documentary on your father-in-law and the late filmmaker, Yash Chopra. Did he discuss anything on that at home?
He hasn’t discussed that with me. I think there’s nothing like creating a documentary on a man like Yash Chopra. It’s a great idea.
What keeps you busy after Mardaani?
I’m reading scripts. Everything depends on Mardaani and how the film fares.