regular-article-logo Saturday, 15 June 2024

Tollywood stalwart Churni Ganguly shares her memorable experiences from Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani

She is receiving praise for quite a few standout scenes to her name — laundry to lingerie — in the Karan Johar-directed blockbuster that’s already powered into the Rs 100- crore club

Priyanka Roy  Published 08.08.23, 06:24 PM
Churni Ganguly (left) with Shabana Azmi, Tota Roy Choudhury and Alia Bhatt in Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, now playing in theatres

Churni Ganguly (left) with Shabana Azmi, Tota Roy Choudhury and Alia Bhatt in Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, now playing in theatres

Churni Ganguly has hit it out of the park with her portrayal of Anjali, the “in-house Shashi Tharoor” of the Chatterjee family in Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani. She is receiving praise for quite a few standout scenes to her name — laundry to lingerie — in the Karan Johar-directed blockbuster that’s already powered into the Rs 100- crore club, as well as the seamless way in which she blended into the powerful ensemble cast of the film and yet stood out. t2 chatted with Churni about the experience, her character and more.

What do you think has made Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani such a winner among all sections of the audience?


The fact that people went in for entertainment and came out with much more. And each of our characters actually contributed to that bit. That is what has stayed with the audience.

Was that also what struck you when you were offered the part?

Absolutely! Because it had to be a little more meaningful than just a Bollywood flick. And it turned out to be just that, right from when I read the script and was given the brief for my part. I knew it had enough to say when it reached the masses and show them a certain way of thought. I think that’s the best thing that a film can do.

How did the film happen to you?

I got a call from Dharma (Productions, producer) when I was shifting houses and they requested me to send a recording of mine. I was unable to do so at that time. And then, after a week or so, Karan’s (Johar) assistant called me and said to send any kind of recording in any which way I could. In between packing boxes and with tons of people around me, I sent them a rough recording sometime in the late afternoon. By early evening, I got a call that Karan wanted to meet me and to also block certain dates. It was very quick.

What was interesting was that along with the request for the recording, they sent me a picture of the look of the character... which was my picture! That made me realise that they were looking for me anyway. When I went to meet Karan the following week, he told me: ‘You had me at hello!’

We have seen versions of your character on screen before, but you somehow made Anjali unique in your own way. What was it like playing her?

She’s very different from what I am. I am not preachy at all! (Laughs) I am not judgmental. She has her own world and she doesn’t care about whether people are listening to her or even whether they like her. She does what she has to.

She has a little bit of a teacher in her, which is what happens in the lingerie shopping scene (between Anjali and Rocky, played by Ranveer Singh) where she shows him what it is to be a real man, a complete man. She has a progressive outlook and she doesn’t shy away from voicing her opinion to anyone. That bit is a little like me, I think. If I have something to say, I do... but not in such harsh words.

And I would imagine that you are definitely not a version of Shashi Tharoor....

No, no! (Laughs)

Did you have fun with the humour in the film, which isn’t your standard in-your-face humour?

I did! I loved doing the laundry scene (with Ranveer). It was fun, it was great fun.

What was the atmosphere like on this set?

Karan is not a laidback director. He doesn’t let others do the work for him... he comes up and he tells you what he has to. He gives suggestions and inputs and allows improvisations. At least in my scenes, there were lots of improvisations that we worked on.

And that was great fun! As far as gelling with the team goes, we come from Bengal and we are actually outsiders in the Bollywood film industry, but we were not made to feel that. We were made to feel at home, the hospitality was superb and the interaction with everyone on set was very warm. That helped a lot.

But it was also stupefying looking at the sets and the grand scale of things in general. When I was sitting there and looking at all this, I kept thinking that we could make so many Bengali films at the cost of just one set! (Laughs) That made me very proud, actually, because I felt that it takes a lot of creative talent, which we have in Bengal, to tell a good story with such a limited budget and resources and reach it to people.

There has been all-around applause, hoots and whistles during the lingerie shopping scene in the film. Can you take us through the behind-the-scenes moments of that scene?

Actually, we had very little time while shooting that scene. It was shot in the marketplace and there were onlookers to be controlled and other logistics to keep in mind, which took a lot of time. Once that shot happened, it just took off! What was great was that it was okayed in the first take itself, but Ranveer being Ranveer said: ‘We will take another one for love,’ and we took another shot anyway (laughs). It was very smooth and very enjoyable.

What was it like watching Ranveer and Alia Bhatt at work, who are increasingly being described as two of the most exciting acting talents in the Hindi film industry today?

What I loved about both of them was that they were ready for their roles, they were always punctual. They had a lot of input. Alia never shied away from giving her input to a scene to make it work better. She worked on her Bengali lines and she asked us again and again whether she was speaking it right. I saw her working very hard on that.

Ranveer would always come in with loads of energy, and greet each and everyone on set, he had a personal note for everyone individually... he’s not cocooned in his own world. He’s very much present with everyone involved.

Did you at any point fear that the portrayal of the Bengali community in the film could end up as stereotypical or caricaturish?

When you want to show the differences between two communities, the idiosyncrasies of each community will come up. Otherwise one can’t show the contrast. As far as the Bengalis in the film are concerned, I don’t think we were stereotyped at all... the family was shown drinking together every evening. I don’t think that happens in every Bengali household.

What Karan wanted to show and what I really loved is that Bengalis have been shown to be progressive and it is their way that rules finally, in both the households. But then, when Rocky has a meltdown and speaks about cancel culture, there is a lesson that the Bengali family also learns, which is not to be judgmental if people are different from who you are.

Will we see you do more Hindi films now?

I don’t look at this role in this manner. It’s a very typical role of a woman lost in her own world and one who speaks her mind all the time. It’s a one-of-a-kind role. Bombay would want to stereotype me in roles like that and I wouldn’t want to do that.

I will work in Bombay only if other kinds of roles came my way. This is a role that I had to play to perfection and I tried doing my best. If the makers in Bombay think they can cast me in different roles, I am all for it. But at this point, I feel I may be stereotyped and I am not ready for that.

Follow us on: