MUMBAI Rani Mukerji, the pretty girl in the "Khandala" song, has played a firebrand reporter, an angel, a deaf-mute, con artist and even a cricket-obsessed woman disguised as a man -- since her Bollywood debut in 1997.
Her last film "Aiyyaa" didn't quite set the box office on fire but Mukerji is back this Friday in Reema Kagti's suspense drama "Talaash".
Mukerji spoke to Reuters about "Talaash", working with bound scripts and why she didn't dwell on the failure of "Aiyyaa".
Q: What is it that you look for when you are watching a murder mystery?
A: "What I look for is that the surprise element in the end -- the suspense is what (makes it) worth watching the entire film."
Q: When you listened to the script of "Talaash", was that element obvious right away?
A: "Yes. This is my first such film. Normally when I say yes to a film, it is not the genre that attracts me. It is whether the script is good, whether the role they have offered me is good enough or challenging enough for me as an actor. When these two things match, I say yes."
Q: Sometimes a script might not look good on paper, but it may not turn out the same on screen. How do you deal with that?
A: "When you read a script, I always visualize the film in my head. So when you shoot it you are just giving life to that script, so (it's) very seldom that it can go wrong. It used to happen in those times when you didn't have bound scripts. When there are no bound scripts and there is only a storyline and script is being written on the day of the shoot, then, obviously you haven't visualized the film. Today, in the day of bound scripts, there is not much scope. There might be an edit pattern that might be different."
Q: How did you do films which didn't have a bound script?
A: "Luckily for me, I have not worked in many films like that. Very few, and those were the films where I had hardly had a role at all, so it didn't matter."
Q: In the last three years, you haven't done too many films, but they have all been very distinct. Have you become choosier?
A: "Normally, with every phase of an actor, there comes a sense of calm and contentment and you don't want to a film because you want to please anybody -- but yourself."
Q: Not even the fans?
A: "The fans are the utmost reason why you choose to do films for yourself. What I mean to say is that you stop doing films as favours, you stop doing films for friends. When you do films for yourself, you are working for your audience. I know for a fact that I am doing this for audiences only and nothing else. They want only the best from me."
Q: When did you first feel this sense of contentment?
A: "I think it first happened ten years ago, when I did ‘Saathiya'. I think it happened then. I can just select the films I want to do and do the films I want to do because this is what the audiences like."
Q: What happened to make you think that way?
A: "I think (it) happened during ‘Mujhse Dosti Karoge' when I realised that actresses also have an equal role as compared to the guy. You have to do something meaningful as compared to the guy and your part has to mean something. You shouldn't just be part of the film, but the film should be a part of you and your character. And that's when ‘Saathiya' happened, when I realised that this (is) the kind of film I should be doing."
Q: Were you disappointed with the reception that "Aiyyaa" got?
A: "No … I have to do my work honestly. The rest of it is really not in my hands. Just because I like a script, doesn't mean audiences will also like it. I can only hope for them to like it. Because I really enjoyed the part. You cannot do much about it. That's a part of the industry, part of the game. You win some, you lose some.
"Yes, you do feel bad -- by Friday evening you get to know the film hasn't worked and after that there is no disappointment. Whatever disappointment is there is there for a day. After that you pull up your socks and work hard on the next project."
Q: So you don't dwell?
A: "Not at all. Never. There is no use wasting time. Absolutely."
Q: Is it the same with a successful film?
A: "Yes, it is absolutely the same. You cannot keep rejoicing success and not see what is coming next. It is more important what is your next because you are expected to better that. With failure, you are on your back foot, so people don't expect much. After success you definitely have to start working harder."