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By: Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
Monday, January 22, 2007
Where has Rani been hiding herself? "Nowhere!" she laughs her pearly laughter, dispelling all your worries about her lack of communicativeness in recent months. "I really don't like to let the world know what I'm doing every day of my life. The truth is, I was shooting in New York for Siddharth Anand's Tara Rum Pum. Do you know, Siddharth was with me in school? He had earlier assisted Kunal Kohli on Mujhse Dosti Karogei. And now he was directing me! As for Saif, how he has evolved since Hum Tum! He's such a focused and committed actor!"
Rani returns to explaining her suddenly-reclusive status. "I was completely cut off from Mumbai in New York. It was fun to be on my own. And when I got home-sick I got my parents to visit me over there. When I'm on location abroad I generally like to remain totally cut off. This time my absence seemed glaring because I had a major film Kabhi Alvidaa Na Kehna (KANK) up for release. Everyone wondered why I wasn't here to promote it."
Far away in NY, Rani really bonded with choreographer Vaibhavi Merchant. "She wasn't just my choreographer there, but also my companion," says Rani emotionally.
Since she hasn't really spoken about her thankless role as the confused wife in KANK Rani speaks up now. "Why is it that a wife must be happy just because her husband is seemingly perfect and happy with her? What if the woman finds love after finding this supposedly perfect husband? A man can find passion outside marriage no matter how attentive his wife is. But a woman doing the same is unacceptable. I think we need to salute Karan Johar for dealing with the very important issue of passion-less marriages in urban settings with such maturity. I'm very proud of being in KANK."
And now she's equally proud of Baabul. "You know, people often talk about the daughter-in-law being equal in status to the daughter. But does anyone actually believe in this? My father-in-law in Baabul, does. I think audiences will get to see all all-new side of me and Amitji after Black and KANK in Baabul."
The stressful situation in Varanasi has taken its toll on Rani. She has taken ill. The doctor is expected to fly down from Mumbai to attend to her.
This was Rani's third film to be shot in the Holy city. "And why the stress? Can you believe it; they're burning my photographs over here in Varanasi. What have I done? I wasn't even aware of what had transpired before I arrived for the press conference. I came to know there was some kind of a scuffle. I came there after shooting, hot and tired and in no mood to answer personal questions. What was so wrong if I said my marriage is my parents' concern? I really feel men get intimidated by women who assert themselves, especially if the woman happens to be Bengali."
Rani's chuckles fill the air. She then sobers down. "I was asked to say sorry for my behaviour at the press conference, which I did. Now they're turning it around to say I didn't say sorry properly. They're saying, 'We're going to break Rani's bangles.' They've even named the film Choodiyan, for God knows what reason. Dada (director Pradeep Sarkar) is hopping mad. 'How dare they behave like this with my little girl?' he was heard saying. The fact is, the people of Varanasi are with us. As for these people who think my sorry isn't good enough, let me tell them I'm a well brought-up girl. If you talk decently with me I'm humble. And for their information, I'm a UP ki beti too. My father is from Jhansi. So there."
Amidst all this pandemonium Rani is delighted by the fact that the local authorities love her performances in Bunty Aur Babli and Black. "They're going on and on about my contrasting performances in the two. That feels good, especially when you're being hammered for no reason."
Speaking of Black talk veers to Sanjay Bhansali's Sawariya. Rani completed a schedule with her favourite director before proceeding to Vanranasi for Pradeep Sarkar's film. "Since I've been keeping a low-profile, people have been making up stories about how I play a courtesan in Sawariya. No such thing! Let the film be released and everyone will see what Sanjay and I have done together."
She gets sentimental about Sanjay. "There're very few relationships in the industry that go way beyond work. I'm there for Sanjay and his mother even if we don't work together again. But what I'd really like as a greedy actress is for Sanjay to make another film with me and Amit Uncle. I enjoyed working with him so much in Black."
Amit Uncles brings Rani to Jaya Aunty. "She's expected to join us in Varanasi very shortly. I've always admired Jaya Aunty's work. I looked forward to working with her. And now it's finally happening."
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