26 reasons why I love Rani Mukherji

Inspired in equal parts by PPCC's "Why Should I Love?" series and Nicki's Bollywood Alphabet Meme, here's my alphabet of beloved performances, moments, and scenes of Rani Mukherji (and some biographical tidbits too), far and away my favorite working actress in Hindi cinema. I was going to do an A to Z of things I like about Shashi, but that's what this whole blog seems to have become lately anyway, so where's the challenge in that? More importantly, the women of Bollywood deserve mucho love and recognition, especially when I keep complaining about how screenwriters don't give them material that's up to their abilities (and my joy in them!). The least I can do is some appropriate writing myself. It's about time Rani Mukherji got the spotlight around here!

A Abhishek Bachchan is my favorite of her on-screen pairs (despite the initially visually jarring height difference), so much so that I often find myself wishing they were together in real life because they so strongly convince me of their well-matched-ness and pyaar and cuteness. I prefer them in the superwow comedy Bunty aur Babli (one of my most favorite films, and you'll be seeing a lot of it in this list - in fact, just assume that's the movie in question unless stated otherwise), but I was hooked on their trauma-drama in Yuva, too.

If you count yourself among the fans of Ranishek, try fan videos "She's Not You" (where I first encountered the v useful term "Ranishek"), "Ranishek Moments," "Nagada Nagada," and "Be My Baby." More please! Dil squish!

B The bus ride shows us faults, petty tiffs, plans, hope, and affection, all in one short scene. Vah!

C Crying, distraught Vimmi is both touching and hilarious. She channels Lucille Ball!

D "Dhadak Dhadak" is cheerful dreams on wheels! Literally!

E Those golden honey hazel eyes!

So preeeeeeetty!

F The Filmfare Awards panel must reeeeeeally love Rani too. In her eleven-year career, she's gotten six awards and another eight nominations (sometimes defeating herself for the title). She's also the only woman to have gotten Best Actress and Best Supporting in the same year. I don't put a ton of stock in these things, but she's turned a lot of heads in her short time on screen.

G Gross! Her movies bring in the bucks; according to Box Office India, she's been a top earning actress in six of the ten years since Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.

H Oh Hum Tum, oh how I love you, oh how I've cried with you, oh how you show how people can find true love more than once in life, oh how you validate my own ideal of a romantic relationship, oh how you provide the counter-example for my usual grumpiness about Bollywood remakes of Hollywood movies.

I In Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Tina cuts Rahul's cocky smugness down to size by showing that Indianness is more than where you live.

Oh snap!

J Joooooooy! Wheeeeeeee! I love everything about this song, including the disguises and how the characters discuss the con as they're on the run from the people they've duped mere seconds ago. They're clearly having the time of their lives.

K Kuch Kuch Hota Hai might be a breakout film that dreams are made of for anyone, but Rani made it really hard to hate the person who stood between Kajol and Shahrukh (even while dressed in Spice Girls leftovers).

L Lachchi in Paheli is a woman with a choice! A feminist, complex, emotionally touching story! Her role could have been more, but I'm so glad she was there, anchoring this character and freeing me from worrying about it being handled badly and letting me devote more energy on what I make of the ending. (Answer: it leaves me highly unsatsified and toys with my sense of justice.)

M Mujhse Dosti Karoge! was my first Hindi film and I luuuuuurve it. I adore the plot of falling in love through letters - so Austen! - and while it's hard to believe Rani could ever be less desirable than Kareena (sorry, Beebs, you know I love you too, but please) and I'm no fan of trauma-drama self-sacrifice, Rani gets some good lines about seeing inner beauty. And she ends up with Hrithik. Score one for the kind, bookish, "not as pretty" girls!

N Nayak: The Real Hero features two gloriously weird (in a good way) A. R. Rahman songs with Rani, "Tu Achcha Lagta Hai," with the dancing pot-people and sunflowers, and "Saiyyan" (starting at 3:00 on that clip), where the sumptuous golden costumes and sets are punctuated with animated people-faced snakes who slither on a giant Chutes (or Snakes, if you like British English) and Ladders gameboard and eat the protagonists. What's not to love!

O If you'll allow me some creativity, "O" is going to stand for "Oh my god, how can you be so obtuse and oblivious to this man's obvious, overwhelming charms?" and be applied to Rani's character Maya in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. I'm not going to praise her performance in this film (or anyone else's except Abhishek's), but it was interesting to watch someone remain immune to such a textbook adorable character, and Maya might have been even more ridiculously icy or even entirely unsympathetic in the hands of someone with less ability to show a few shades of different emotions.

P In the regrettable, overwrought Saawariya, her prostitute character was an earthy bright spot.

Q Flirting with the improbable Q. Q. Qureshi.

R The raspy voice! There are rumors that KJo wanted to dub it in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, but now it's impossible to imagine her without it. Seductive is the easy way to go with such a tool, but she can also make it cute, earnest, hesitant, pleading, forceful, indignant, or besotted. She and Shashi regularly duke it out for "The Voice" crown title in my heart. And now it is suddenly crystal clear to me that they must do a film together and I will watch it with the picture off and just bask in their vocal stylings.

S Screen style! Sparkly salwar suits! Girl manages to rock a scrunchie in 2005!

Apparently giving up on "scrunchie as bracelet" after late-night studying for final exams in 1995 was the wrong fashion choice.

T "Tu Mere Saamne" is my favorite part of Chori Chori, a film I otherwise find forgettable (thought it is beloved by people whose opinions I respect). In this song, Rani's character gets so into her assignment of trying to make Sonali Bendre jealous by acting lovey-dovey with Ajay Devgan in the standard mountain-tops-and-trees Hindi love song that she carries on dancing even when the music is over. The last few seconds are comedy gold - and remind me of what I must look like when I dance along to movies in my living room.

Unfailingly good in Black opposite the Big B and an unoriginal, potentially mawkish story. Plus the woolly hats and sweaters!

V Vimmi/Babli. One of the best female roles and most wonderful characters I've seen in Indian cinema, and I wouldn't want any other actor to touch it. Apart from the regrettable costuming in "Naach Baaliye," which isn't even her fault, there's not a thing I would change in her performance.

W I'm getting desperate with this letter, so forgive the following syntax: Wedding, comma, Muriel's, one of my favorite movies ever and, as with When Harry Met Sally/Hum Tum, one I wish Bollywood would hurry up and remake. I think it would fit in perfectly - what with the relentless heart, big dreams, family drama, friendship drama, rushed marriages, deliberately ridiculous costuming, and musical numbers - while challenging the norms in some important ways - women can be happy on their own. And I want Rani to play Muriel, with Tabu as Rhonda, Shahid Kapoor as Brice, and Arjun Rampal as swimmer David Van Arckle (wow, I voluntarily fake-pretend cast Arjun Rampal in something - who knew?). (This video is not entirely safe for work or children.) This dream project is a real mark of my respect and affection for the marvelous Ms M - it is no small feat to do what Toni Collette can do.

X Rani was in three of the first four Hindi films I saw and played one of my early favorite heroines (Pooja in Mujhse Dosti Karoge!), and she deserves some credit for getting my cinematic xenomania off to a rip-roaring start.

Y In Yuva, Rani holds her own against Abhishek's unleashed beast of a husband - and got a Filmfare Best Supporting award for her efforts.

Z Zaara and Veer are saved by noble lawyer Saamiya Siddiqui's efforts! What I like about this role is that she makes grand reunion possible without having histrionic sacrifice - and heck, even the sappiest speech is given by a different character. It's not an amputated love triangle - it's justice!

The Rani Mukherji movies I have seen: Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Nayak: The Real Hero, Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, Muhse Dosti Karoge!, Saathiya, Chalo Ishq Ladaaye, Chalte Chalte, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Chori Chori, Hum Tum, Veer-Zaara, Yuva, The Rising: The Ballad of Mangal Pandey, Bunty aur Babli, Black, Paheli, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, and Saawariya. I have yet to be inspired to try Baabul, Ta Ra Rum Pum, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, or Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic. Any words of guidance on these matters?


A G said…
"Hey Ram", with Kamal Hassan. The movie is excruciatingly bad, but Rani's character is so well written, and she plays the part of the spirited Bengali live-in girlfriend superbly....

Wouldn't recommend any of Baabul, Ta Ra Rum Pum, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, or Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic, really. They're all terrible...
Anonymous said…
Hi Beth

Good post as usual.

For Rani's sake I would suggest give "Babul" and LGCMD a go. Music in Babul is good. Remember I said give it a go for Rani's sake!


BB said…
I agree with Meera about Baabul. The movie itself is "blah," but Rani looks great, and the songs are okay.

I adore Rani, too; she's not my absolute favorite, but I think she's a cutie!
Bollywood said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
tsadkiel said…
Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic is one of those movies that apparently everybody hates but me. But I think that you in particular would like it.
Temple said…
Hi Beth.
LCMD is a movie of 2 very different halves. Rani is lovely in her carefree Varanasi girl phase, but once she starts crying she pretty much doesn't stop for the rest of the movie. Konkona Sen Sharma is good as her sister, and there is the joy of Hema Malini. The second half is not as good, and most of the men in the film are very annoying indeed. But I sat through it and it did have it's moments.
I don't like Saif as a lead actor (OK for character parts and sidekick roles but he cannot IMHO carry a film) and didn't like orgasmic-squealing-Rani-on-a-bicycle in the trailers for TPTM so I didn't see it. One of my good friends left at half time because she couldn't stand it, and others commented on how skanky it was for a movie aimed at younguns. So don't know. And I only watched the songs in Baabul.
I really do like Rani as an actress, but as my friend said, they must be buying her artificial tears in bulk. Raniweepy is a standard description in our vocabulary.
My favourite Rani movies are Chalte Chalte, Paheli and Bunty aur Babli :)
OMG I just did a post on jodis, and I included Anil/Rani as my endangered jodi of choice. We must save the rainforest AND them! Gosh, I love Nayak so much.

TOTALLY agreed on Rani's lovely raspy voice and Lucille Ball-esque outbursts!

Laaga Chunari Mein Daag and Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic were both "meh" tending towards "OK" films... mostly saved by Rani's charisma.

(And hee hee, my word verification is PLORR.)
Amey said…
Aah, how come there is no reference to Saathiya in the whole A-Z?
Nicki said…
Wow Beth. Very thoughtful and creative post!! I don't think I deserve to be mentioned! I have to use YOUR inspiration on working on another post. Thanks for sharing your Rani-admiration.
Chevalier - Hmmm. That is tempting, but then I have to remember you said "excruciatingly bad"!

Meera and BB - :) Maybe I'll try the Babul songs, at least, as a starter.

theBOllywoodFan - That song from Ghulam is FANTASTIC! I love that Aamir was singing for himself! I love when he dances, so help me, I do.

Chris - Well now, that clinches it.

Temple - Sigh, yes, our gal Rani is prone to the occasional squeak and the more-than-occasional tears.

ppcc - I cannot WAIT to read that! You know of course I am drawn to LCMD because of the Ranishek, plus Konkana, plus Kunal, plus Hema.

Amey - Because I have only seen it once and a very long time ago, and when I did, I had issues with Vivek Obeori :) I did go back and review my notes on it while I was writing this post, but nothing noteworthy emerged for me. Do you have some favorite moments in it that I should revisit?
This is so brilliant! Rani is so amazingly talented- I really want to see some more fun stuff from her soon- ideally w/ Abhishek, but those 2 dont seem to be wanting to do movies together :(
Anonymous said…
Excellent job, Beth! Wah wah!

ditto on Mujhse Dosti Karoge, although I was under the impression that I'm the only person who liked it! glad to have you for company.

Chori Chori was so entirely her film, I can't believe you didn't like it. Sigh.

Baabul, Ta Ra Rum Pum: avoid yaar! (don't know about the other two)
Anonymous said…

I was in the middle of writing my "Dil Se.." review when I saw this come through on the feed, and just had to stop and take a break to read it! So glad I did!

I love Rani, too, and she was one of the first Hindi actresses I met(not literally, unfortunately)onscreen. She's definitely super talented and gorgeous and I love, love love her raspy voice!:)

Ooh, there's just something about Ranishek, isn't there? I agree, they just seem to balance each other out so well...Him being so goofy and her seeming so down to earth. And call me crazy, but he just seems so relaxed with her (No offense, Ash). The bus scene in "Bunty Aur Babli" is one of my faves!

I love that you mentioned "Veer Zaara", "Saawariya" and "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai". All movies where Rani wasn't the lead heroine, yet wouldn't have been the same without her, in my opinion.

I've never seen "Mujhse Dosti Karoge!" (although you've now peaked my interest), but I agree with you...who would ever see Rani as less attractive than Kareena? You know, there was an episode on Koffee with Karan (not the most reliable source, I know) with Rani and Kareena on it. Anyways, the producers did a poll amongst Bollywood actors on who was the sexiest between the two women, and who was the better actress. I couldn't believe that all of them (except for John Abraham, no less) cited Kareena as being wayyy sexier than Rani. Rani got the most votes for the better actress, but I was in shock watching some of the comments on her sexiness (or lack of it, as they seemed to think). I totally disagree, but go figure. Actually, I thought the whole thing was kind of done in poor taste, and Rani even looked a little hurt.

Can you believe Kareena even had the nerve to say at the end of the clip that the only reason John picked Rani as sexier was because she is Bengali and Bips is also Bengali? I kid you not.
Nicki - Thank you! And pish posh, of course you deserve to be mentioned - I would never have tried this if I hadn't read your project!

Shweta - :) She really is. I wonder whom we need to plead to get Ranishek back in action?

memsaab - Awww thanks! I loooove Mujhse Dosti Karoge, but I know what you mean - it does not register for most people, except perhaps for the big song medley.

Oh noes, "Avoid yaar"? That's serious.

Nida - So glad you enjoyed! That's a good description of Ranishek, though she can be goofy too, which I love.

That episode of Koffee with Karan sounds krappy! What a horrible concept, to make people sit there and listen to a contest between them that they didn't even really voluntarily enter. Blech.
Anonymous said…
I love her too - she makes girl-next-door look so much fun and of course, pretty. My favorite Rani role is Hum Tum (she does get both Abhishek and Saif - what can be better?) but I love her in pretty much everything (even in Hey Ram). And she seems to have chemistry with all her leads be it Saif, Hrithik, SRK, Abhishek (gossips have it that her famous onscreen chemistry with him was the reason she wasnt invited to his wedding!) or even Vivek Oberoi!

She is great in Laaga... too, but there is barely any Abhishek there! Will second/third the Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic recommendation because it has the required Rani allowance (she is sooo cute and goofy) as well as the recommended romance elements.
Anonymous said…
All the movies you're yet to watch suck. In this order:
Baabul (first half isn't all bad)
Laaga Chunari Mein Daag (the beginning and the end aren't all that bad, but you have to sit through the entire middle part to get from one to the other)
Ta Ra Rum Pum Pum Pum Pum My Bum
Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic (murdering my childhood in every frame)
Anonymous said…
Hee hee, liked the Q. Q. Qureshi reference. To use a cricket term, well struck, Beth.

I second everyone's recommendation to check out Ghulam--eh, kya bolti tu? It signifies an era well. But no one mentioned Rani's first film--it's a searing portrayal by a 19-year-old Rani of a dowry-abused new bride: Raja Ki Ayegi Baraat. Believe it or not, one of her heavier roles.

Finally, to disagree with one poster, everyone should watch Hey Ram. It's not easy, and it's bizarre in places, but it's also brilliant, powerful, and incredibly important to Indian cinema as a serious meditation on the scars of Partition. Rani is excellent in it, too.
M for me, please. I have since been convinced that probably Mujhse Dosti Karoge isn't a very good film. But it's still one of my favorites. That medley is so great, and so typical of a movie where basically everything important takes place in subtext and via filmi quotes. And it's probably Pooja from that movie, that I fell in love with, more than Rani herself.

Q. Kyun, Q.Q.Qureshi ain't half bad either.

As for the more recent Rani films, I kind of liked TPTM. Although maybe watching it on the big screen in the presence of director Kunal Kohli did make a difference. It's a cotton candy kind of film: very sweet and without any substance.
Anonymous said…
I think she is so sweet and beautiful. Like in the bangles number in Paheli. And there were things she did in "Black" that were, for want of a better word, luminous. Beth, you should take Baabul into account. The "Sing My Heart" number is terrific, until the very end of it b/c of what happens...but I don't have the impression that she dances very well and the way she floats across the scene a couple of time in that number is a bit ridiculous. Not to mention the fact that most aspects of the scene are a total ripoff of a number from Raj Kapoor's production of Henna, which he didn't live to see finished. I'm referring to the sangeet scene in which the bride to be has the omen of disaster striking her intended.
bollyviewer - Oooh that's good gossip! I kind of want it to be true, I admit. Good to know re: TPTM - cute and goofy are excellent attractions.

Amrita - HA! But are they "the suck"? This recommendation request is causing me much inner turmoil. I believe all of you.

Anon - Hee! My first cricket compliment! I shall cherish it always!

I loved the Ghulam song and am very drawn to the film. That's amazing that her debut was such a heavy role! Fantastic that she did it well (I assume that's what you're saying)!

Hey Ram is one I've picked up off the video store shelf, pondered, and put back multiple times. It just never quite draws me in. Maybe now is the time to try.

eva-e - Yay M! Your TPTM scenario sounds ideal. Did he speak afterwards? What did he have to say about the film? (I guess I could go find an interview, but hearing your interpretation will be more fun and less full of spin.) And sometimes cotton candy is just what the doctor ordered.

Michael - Ah yes, that's a lovely one. I should revisit Black.

Very interesting tidbits from Baabul!
Anonymous said…
heey beth!
i will suggest you to watch all 4 of them! i'm a huge ranifan myself and she looks awesome in all 4 of them! she really did kinda different roles in it!
like you see tara rum pum is a film of a family with two kids and than they struggle in life due to bankloones problems and caraccident (the race)
baabul is a family movie where she loks soo cute with salman and than he dies, but her best friends, john abraham looves her soo much that he never told her, she gets a child a boy, and amitahb does evrything to give back that smile to his daughter in law and marrys her to john!
laaga chunari mein daag due to money-problems, she has to take care of the family and mooves to mumbai to find a job, where she actually lied and becomes a prostitute, to safe the health of her father, pay everybody who own money of them, and to be happy as they could stay in their house! she has struggled soo much of problems and thn she has to deal with it for the conciquences!
tahn comes thoda pyaar thoda mgic, which is a gr8 film, about 4 orphans who need love saif who never got love and raniwho doesn't know what love is! the problem here is that she's an angel and after her duty, she has to go back in heaven to god! but as she's falling in love with saif, she recognize actually that she wants to feel how a human being feels! she never had tears till.......that one day!
they are all veryy sweet written! they maybe were not that guud at the box office still you should watch it!
and i'm looking forward to rani's next release with shahid! :)
anon - Your enthusiasm is infectious :) I'm looking forward to her project with Shahid too - they seem like they'll make a fun, spunky pair.
Anonymous said…

I'm also a fan of Rani Mukherji. I'll love any film she makes whether it's good or not, just by her performances. I'm also a HUGE Ranishek fan :)


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