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Rani Mukerji on how Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Pathaan changed things for Yash Raj Films: 'It was like complete depression'

The Siddharth Anand-directed film, also starring Deepika Padukone and John Abraham, released on January 25, 2023

PTI Mumbai Published 06.03.24, 10:05 AM
Rani Mukerji

Rani Mukerji Instagram

Actor Rani Mukerji on Tuesday credited the theatrical success of "Pathaan" for changing things for the Yash Raj Films, which was going through a challenging phase after many of their big ticket movies failed at the box office.

Some of the big-ticket releases of YRF that bombed at the box office include “Prithviraj” starring Akshay Kumar, Ranbir Kapoor’s “Shamshera”, “Bunty Aur Babli 2”, which featured Mukerji alongside Saif Ali Khan, and Vicky Kaushal-led “The Great Indian Family”.


The 45-year-old actor praised filmmaker husband Aditya Chopra for sticking to his conviction of releasing movies in theatres at a time when producers were opting for direct-to-digital releases during the pandemic.

"He was being offered a lot of money to release it on OTT... My husband took a brave call and said, 'I would not release any of these films on OTT because I believe in the power of Indian cinema of what it does theatrically'... All of those films flopped because post pandemic, the way audiences were watching content changed overnight because of OTT.

"It was like complete depression. People in our company were sad. The whole conviction of Adi that my films will be released theatrically... We thought that there would be divine intervention and he would be rewarded for his conviction of releasing his films theatrically... ‘Pathaan’ changed the entire thing for Yash Raj and it became the highest grossing film," the actor said.

"Pathaan", which released in January 2023, went on to earn over Rs 1,000 crore at the box office.

Mukerji said Chopra's conviction to release films theatrically during challenging times was "commendable". "Filmmakers need to have more faith in the product that they make, and they should believe in what they make. They should stand with each other to make that change. ‘Pathaan' stood the test of time, and it opened the floodgates for people going into cinemas." Mukerji also praised the south film industry for making simple films that connect with people.

"The most fascinating part about the south film industry is that there’s a lot of unity, they stand together, and they support each other. Also, actors stand for each other. It happens in our industry as well," she said.

"The beautiful part is they say, ‘they learnt (about storytelling) from us, and we say, we learnt it from them’. So, it’s a give and take thing. Indian cinema is looking inwards. It’s wonderful that we are taking feedback and are getting inspired by each other to be the best version of ourselves," she added.

Over the years, the actor said her process of choosing film scripts has changed. In her 20s, she would accept a role after a one line narration from the producer and director.

"...There was no story or dialogues that were given to us to prepare beforehand. It was like, this is the beginning, middle and end. There was no conscious effort to even convince us. It was like if you don’t do it then we have someone else...,” she said.

Mukerji also revealed that it was her 2002 release, “Saathiya” that made her realise there’s much more to acting than it being a 9:00 am to 9:00pm job.

“When I was a teenager doing my job, I would want my time back home. I would be the happiest person when they would say, ‘pack-up’. Then times changed. I wanted to be on a film set longer than the required time because I wanted to be part of the filmmaking process. I wanted to spend time with my director, technicians.” Mukerji, who has been in the movie industry for close to three decades, said the younger generation of actors have to face the pressure of being on social media. “Things for them are tougher because they want instant gratification through social media....Everything is scrutinised much more, and everybody is on tenterhooks as to not make mistakes. Luckily, because I’m not on social media, I don’t know what’s going on. So, I say what I want to say,” she said.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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