I was not in hiding: Rani Mukerji

Jan 22, 2007 Subhash K. Jha

Mumabi, Jan 22 (IANS) Rani Mukerji, who has resurfaced after a long hiatus, says she was not in hiding but doesn't like "intrusions" into her personal life.

"I really don't like to let the world know what I'm doing every day of my life. I was not hiding anywhere. The truth is I was shooting in New York for (Siddharth Anand's) 'Tara Rum Pum'," Rani told IANS.

"Do you know, Siddharth was with me in school? He had earlier assisted Kunal Kohli on 'Mujhse Dosti Karoge'. And now he was directing me! As for Saif Ali Khan, how he has evolved since 'Hum Tum'! He's such a focussed and committed actor!"

Explaining her suddenly reclusive status, Rani said: "I was completely cut off from Mumbai in New York. It was fun to be on my own. And when I got homesick, my parents visited me. When I'm on location abroad, I generally like to remain totally cut off.

"This time my absence seemed glaring because I was not present for the release of a major film like 'Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna' (KANK). Everyone wondered why I wasn't here to promote it."

Far away in New York, Rani really bonded with choreographer Vaibhavi Merchant.

"She wasn't just my choreographer there, but also my companion," said Rani emotionally.

Since she hasn't really spoken about her role as the confused wife in KANK, Rani does so 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 passionless marriages in urban settings with such maturity. I'm very proud of being in KANK."

And 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 got to see all all-new side of me and Amitji (Amitabh Bachchan) after 'Black' and KANK in the film."

The stressful situation in Varanasi while shooting for Pradeep Sarkar's untitled film took its toll on Rani and she fell ill.

This was Rani's third film to be shot in the holy city.

"And why the stress? Can you believe that they burnt my photographs 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, specially if the woman happens to be Bengali."

Rani even apologised for her behaviour at the conference but it didn't seem enough.

"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.

"The 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 girl 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, specially when you're being hammered for no reason."

Speaking of "Black", talk veers to Sanjay Bhansali's "Saawariya", for which Rani has completed a schedule with her favourite director.

"Since I've been keeping a low-profile, people have been making up stories about how I play a courtesan in 'Saawariya'. No such thing! Let the film be released and everyone will see what we have done together."

Talking about her friendship with Bhansali, Rani said: "There're very few relationships in the industry that go way beyond work. I'm there for Bhansali and his mother even if we don't work together again. But what I'd really like as a greedy actress is for him to make another film with me and Amit uncle (Amitabh Bachchan)."

Amit uncle brings Rani to Jaya aunty.

"I've always admired Jaya aunty's work. I looked forward to work with her, and now it's happened," she said.

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