Rani Mukerji first caught the nation's attention in Karan Johar's Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. In that film, she plays the role of an Oxford drop out, Tina Malhotra, who arrives at St. Xavier's Mumbai to finish her studies and falls in love with her batchmate, Rahul Khanna.
It’s a sidekick performance for the ages and one made all the more astounding when one realises she was only 20 years old during its filming. For years after this breakthrough, however, Rani starred in many forgettable movies. Successful moments came few and far between despite critically-acclaimed performances in Saathiya and Chalte Chalte.
It was only when she was offered Mani Ratnam's Yuva, followed by Kunal Kohli's Hum Tum, in 2004 that Rani's Bollywood career skyrocketed, garnering her plenty of accolades. Asked whether there was anything else she wanted to have experimented with, Rani smiled and said wistfully: "I have done it all in 23 years of my career."
"Right from the start of of my career, I had a good balance in portraying the strong Indian women very beautifully. I’ve always been attracted to such roles. So on and off, I’ve been doing those films. I think whenever I’ve got a film that has challenged me as an actor, or there’s something socially relevant happening in the country at that point of time that I’d like to speak about, or there’s a story or a message that needs to be spoken, or if I felt that this a comedy which would really tickle the audiences, I have done it all," said Rani.
Rani, who is now gearing up for the release of her 47th film, Mardaani 2, said she hadn’t always known she wanted to be an actor but felt fortunate to have a wonderful career graph.
"I feel really happy that I have got an opportunity where writers have written such roles for me and filmmakers have greenlit the projects. I have had some wonderful co-stars working with me in those films. So, it has been a wonderful journey for a person who didn’t even want to be an actor," the actress said.
"I feel really blessed and grateful with the kind of love I have got from my audiences throughout my career. Even when I had flops, I had my fans stand by me and encourage me to go ahead and work more. So, I have really loyal fans who’ve always stood by me; the good, bad and ugly. That has always been my major source of strength in my career," she added.
Mardaani 2 will see Rani reprise her role as a tough cop, Shivani Shivaji Roy. Directed by Gopi Puthran, the film is scheduled to hit the theatres on December 13.