Sanjay Bhansali-Rani Mukherjee: the rift that wasn't

Jun 7, 2005 Subhash K Jha, Jun 7

Mumbai, June 7 (IANS) Did director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and his "Black" actress Rani Mukherjee have a big fight? The rumour seems to be the figment of a very fertile imagination.

When Sanjay was telephoned to confirm the rumour, Rani was right there at his house, screaming and whooping it up.

"Rani and I in a fight? Wow!" Bhansali chuckled and told IANS even as he spoke to the actress who was in his house: "Hey, Rani? Did you hear this one? We're supposed to have fallen apart. What are you doing in my house?"

Rani couldn't stop laughing. "You know, I knew these rumours would start. People just can't bear to see us together. After all, we've created something, which very few director-actress teams have ever done. Sanjay is my mentor. He can scream at me. And he often does. He screams at those he's close to.

"But at the end of the day he's one of my closest friends. I love Leela aunty (the director's mother) and Sanjay. That won't change regardless of whether we do another film together or not."

So the question is who is spreading these rumours of a massive showdown between Bollywood's most accomplished director-actress team, and why? The answer is very simple. Possibly some of Rani's colleagues, particularly women.

In fact one of the primary preoccupations in the industry is to break up successful star-director teams. And what better target than Rani who keeps largely away from the press and therefore incurs the wrath of the Page 3 tattlers?

She admits her relations with the press have been uneasy. "Not because I disrespect the media. But because I don't like to unnecessarily talk about myself or my achievements. Does it mean they should make up stories about me?"

Whatever the reason, the fact is the "Black" duo is far from finished with each other. Sanjay may or may not work with her in his next film. But she's definitely an actress he'll be going back matter how hard the spoilsports try to create manufactured rifts.

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