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Rani on the run

You are looking smashing in the Dil Bole Hadippa! promos. Is the revamped Rani only for this film?

Thank you! I did get fit for Dil Bole Hadippa! but now I want to stay like this for the other films also. Once you get on to a fitness regime and you start enjoying your look, then you can’t be anything but a fitness freak. This film really motivated my to get this new look of mine. It all started with me being offered the role of a cricketer and I wanted to look my part. I wanted to look like an athlete. If you are playing the role of a sportsperson you have to be very, very toned. And through this toning process, I discovered a new me. I am really enjoying myself now.

But what about cricket? How did you prepare for that?

I went through six months of training to learn the game. I practised and I practised and I practised. As a child I never played cricket. And so this was the first time I was actually playing the game. Naturally it took me some time.

Is that why there has been no Rani Mukerji film for quite some time?

Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic was about a year back (it released on June 27, 2008). And I immediately started work on Dil Bole Hadippa!. It was a role that demanded a lot from me and it was important that I did give that much time to this role. I didn’t want people to come to the theatres and say that Rani hasn’t played cricket very well. It is a very integral part of the film. I am a really, really good cricketer in the film. For that I had to look natural as a cricketer and that preparation took a little time.

But why didn’t you like cricket before? What sport interested you?

Unfortunately, I didn’t like cricket at all. Had I been a fan, I am sure I would have picked up the game a lot earlier. Through this film I have now become a fan. The sport I have always liked is badminton because I like playing it a lot. But being from Calcutta, I love watching football. My dad is a very big fan. Now, I love cricket so much that I would love to play it. Whenever I get time, I watch the game on TV. I can now understand what the cricketers are doing (laughs)!

You play a girl in the first half and then disguise yourself as a boy to get into the cricket team. So you are actually playing two characters...

Yes, I do play two characters in the film. Veera is a girl from small-town Punjab who loves playing cricket and she believes if she can play for her pind, her pind will never lose. Her dream is to play cricket for a team. Veer, my other character, realises this dream for her.

Rani mukerji with shahid kapur in Dil Bole Hadippa!

A decade back Shahid Kapur did a Pepsi commercial with you, Shah Rukh and Kajol as a young boy. And now he is your leading man. How do you feel about this?

It feels very nice because Shahid is a delight to work with. I have just discovered a great co-star in him. He is a good actor... he has grown from strength to strength with each film of his. I am looking forward to see how the audience reacts to our pair in the movie. We two had a ball working together.

And what about Anurag Singh (making his second film after the 2007 Jimmy Sheirgill-Tanushree Dutta starrer Raqeeb)?

He is really, really sweet! He is very media shy and that’s why you may not be able to see him. But he has worked very hard on the film.

Yuva, Hum Tum, Veer-Zaara, Black, Bunty Aur Babli, Paheli... you ruled Bollywood in 2004-05. There’s been such a lull thereafter...

Probably, it’s the lull before the storm. Probably. Whatever you can call it. Use your pen (laughs)! From my side, I can promise that I will give my best. But please persuade directors to come to me with challenging roles. If the roles have even a little bit of challenge for me, I can do three-four films a year.

That would make your fans in Calcutta really happy...

You know, for me, it’s really, really special that my movie is releasing on the day of Mahalaya (Sept 18). And I feel that it’s like a blessing from god... coming on a day when Ma is coming into our lives. I feel extremely, extremely privileged to have a release on that day.

Do you plan to come to Calcutta during Durga Puja?

I am coming on the 19th, the day after the release to check out the reaction of my fans in Calcutta to Dil Bole Hadippa!.

Finally, your name has become synonymous with marriage rumours. Has that ever got to you?

You know, the rumour has been there for the last three years now and honestly, it’s very, very disturbing. What they are portraying in front of my audience and my fans is a completely different Rani. Someone who is insecure, who is scared of admitting something so special in her life. That bothers me more than the rumours. I am a self-made person, I am a person who is extremely responsible and I am a person who loves my audiences more than anything in this world. They are of prime importance to me. If I ever decide to get married, I will first inform my audience because that is my responsibility. They have loved me, they have supported me, right from my first film. Something as important as marriage in my life, I will definitely let them know. Why should I hide it? It’s completely outrageous! It’s ridiculous!

So many makers come to me with offers and they are like: “Rani, I hope you are not getting married.” I am like, are you crazy? Why would I get married? I am dying for somebody to offer me a great role. And marriage is not even on my mind. I don’t even have a partner. To get married, you need to be in love and you need to decide whether you want to spend the rest of your life with this person. Nothing of that sort is there. I think these people are jealous or I don’t know what but they keep spreading these rumours about me which is absolutely rubbish.

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