Rani Mukerji is a powerhouse performer who has given us some of the most loved and talked-about performances in the history of Bollywood. Her acting in Mani Ratnam’s cult classic Yuva is certainly up there with some of the best performances ever delivered by a leading lady in Bollywood. Rani played the role of the vulnerable yet feisty Shashi and won the hearts of critics and audiences alike. On its 16th release anniversary, Rani shared a memory that had touched her the most.
“One of my favourite songs from the film is Kabhi Neem Neem, Kabhi Shahad Shahad and it’s still one of my favourite songs till date! Just the way Madhushree sang it, just the way A.R. Rahman composed it and of course the way Brinda the choreographer and Mani Ratnam sir picturised the song and Ravi K shot it, was just magical. I distinctly remember, one of my all-time favourite actors, Shammiji calling me and telling me about the Kabhi Neem Neem song! He told me how much he loved my performance especially the part where I am sitting on the chair and I am reacting to Abhishek’s dance,” Rani discloses.
She adds, “I was very close to him and I have always been a huge fan of his work, especially his songs, and hence for him to call me and compliment me for the song was even more special and meant a lot to me!”
Rani also reveals about Mani Ratnam’s unique way of directing. “I have very fond memories as it was my first film under the direction of Mani sir. It was an absolute pleasure to work with him. His way of interacting with actors, I thought was really, really unique I think working with a director like Mani Sir has helped me better my skills,” she says.
Rani adds, “Why it was so fascinating was because he used to direct actors with one sentence – he always said ‘please don’t act’. So I think that was something that stayed with me even till today. The fact that Mani sir manages to get natural performances from his actors is because he works towards making the actors believe that they are those characters and I think that’s something really, really wonderful.”
For the actor, shooting in Kolkata (then called Calcutta), it was obviously a special experience. Rani says, “I think of my memories of shooting in Calcutta (now called Kolkata) and it was very special! Loved shooting in Kolkata as it feels like home being in the city of joy.. from the food to having my grandma’s house there.. it felt so much like home.”
She reveals that the portions showing the interiors of her Kolkata house were shot in Chennai! “I remember eating all the south Indian delicacies during the shoot of Yuva which was amazing!
Rani had a brilliant 2004 as she won Best Actress award for both Yuva and Hum Tum. She says, “The common link between both Yuva and Hum Tum was that particular year, I won awards for both these films! It was very gratifying and nice to know that both the films and performances were appreciated by the critics as well as the audiences.”