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Watch Bollywood films to know Indians: Rani Mukerji PDF Print E-mail
© Neena Bhandari, Indo Asian News Service

ImageSydney, March 20 (IANS): Cinema can indeed go a long way in promoting positive bilateral relations between Australia and India, especially Bollywood films as they are "all about heart", said Rani Mukerji, who was here as the chief guest at the `2010 Indian Film Festival - Bollywood and Beyond’.

“Cinema showcases different cultures and Indian films are all about our culture, our traditions, human relations and all about heart. So when Australians watch Indian films, they will get to know Indians better and that will help in knowing each other better”, Rani told IANS.

So will she act in a film on racism? Rani said, “As an actor, I would be part of any film that inspires me as an artist. If there is a great character for me to play, if I feel there is something interesting in the film about racism and if there is a positive outlook towards changing the mindset, I would hundred per cent do it”.

She would like to do diverse, challenging roles. So does she feel socially responsible while doing a movie? Giving the example of her role as a deaf, dumb and blind girl in Black, she said, “I do expect that people, who do not know about the deaf and blind, get more aware of people like them. You should never pity them because they are such spirited, lively, fun people and there is so much to learn from them. Michelle McNally did graduate despite her handicap. The sheer fact that if you have the passion, nothing is impossible in life. That is what my character in Black and the film taught me and that is what I would like to portray to the hundreds and millions of my fans who watch the movie”.

“I also did Kabhi Alvida na Kahna, where I cheated on my husband, but that doesn’t mean women should start cheating on their husbands. I think the basic plot in that film was that you have to follow your heart somewhere and if you are in a trapped marriage, where you are not able to love the person, it is better to let the person free and love somebody and let the other person get loved. So you have to balance out and understand”, said Rani dressed in casual jeans and an ornate kurti with dark glasses.

She ranks Black as one of her most important films. “Important, probably because I would never again get a character like that. It was a very challenging role, I enjoyed shooting for it and meeting these people in their hostel will be one of the most memorable and cherished moments of my life. It has made a real difference in my life, especially in the way I look at people. I really felt that we should be eternally grateful to God for what we have. And virtually after Black, I started thanking God for each day that I am living and I feel I am really, really blessed”, said Rani, quickly warming up to the ethnic media and later generous with her time for fans to take that cherished close-up shot.

The festival, which opened with Black and Dil Bole Hadippa in Sydney, is screening a retrospective of Rani’s distinctive films alongside recent Bollywood hits, some regional cinema gems and documentaries.

For her, every role is a dream role, but she says the role debutant director Anurag Singh gave her in Dil Bole Hadippa was wonderful. “It is wonderful being a man and to feel like a man and get attracted to beautiful women. It was a dream role because I could never imagine in my life that I would cross dress as a man. I also got to experiment with cricket, a sport I had never played in my life. I trained for eight months and fell in love with the game. And ofcourse, being a man and tying your hair up in a turban was the most relaxing part!”

So being a Bengali was it difficult for her to play the role of a Sardar? “Punjabis and Bengalis make a great combination, even marriages between them are lovely”, said Rani, relating an interesting episode about how she was exchanged with a Punjabi baby at the hospital and her mother had to fight to get her back.

“I still have to crack the code whether I am a Sardar or Bengali”, Rani said with a twinkle in her bright brown eyes, at last taking off her sunglasses, and revealing that if she weren’t an actress, she would have been “a housewife with my sari tucked in my waist, making chapattis for my husband, raising two kids probably in Allahabad or Kolkatta or somewhere, where my parents would have married me off!”

Her mother dreamt of her to be an actor and she became one. “I owe my being in the film industry to my mom. She persuaded and gave me the confidence to try and see whether I would be successful as an actor. She forced me to attend dancing classes, which I used to hate as a child, but now I thank her for that. Dancing is something that I really enjoy and it comes naturally to me”, said Rani, a classical Odissi dancer.

So is she ready to direct films after a career spanning 17 years as an actress? Rani was forthcoming, “I would like to do a lot of things in life, but you never get to do everything that you want to do. When an actor probably completes 10 years, you are often asked would you like to direct or write? I didn’t want to become an actress, but I became one and so I have this thing in my head that “Never say never”. It is not something I have planned, but if I do get an opportunity and have this energy rush in my body to take up the responsibility of a director someday, I would definitely love to direct”.

She treats her work as “a place of worship”, but when asked if the multi awarding winning actress dreams about winning an Oscar, Rani said, “I would dream about everything and as an actor, our greed never stops for awards, recognition, fame, and love and warmth from people, so it is a never ending process for an actor”.

An actress of conviction, she chooses her roles with care and takes what inspires and excites her. She is really looking forward to `No one killed Jessica’, a film based on the Jessica Lall murder case in which she plays the journalist. “It is a very different film that I am doing after a long time. It is a very different and powerful role so I don’t know how my fans are going to react to it, but I am looking forward to it because it is an interesting movie based on a true life story”.

Despite having Rani, director of the 2009 mega-hit 3 Idiots, Rajkumar Hirani, writer/director Imtiaz Ali and director Anurag Singh as festival guests and 30 movies showcasing a sizzling mixture of comedy, romance, action and drama, the festival has failed to attract mainstream audiences. After screenings in Melbourne and Sydney, it runs in Perth from March 25 to April 7 and in Auckland from April 14 to 21.

(This is an unedited version of the story that was syndicated through IANS)

© Copyright Neena Bhandari. All rights reserved. Republication, copying or using information from any content is expressly prohibited without  the permission of the writer and the news agency through which the article is syndicated. 

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