Bollywood’s husky-voiced Bengali beauty, Rani Mukerji was born on the 21st of March, 1978 in Mumbai. She comes from a family that has close links with not only Bollywood, but also the Bengali film industry. Rani’s father is Ram Mukherji who has been a director and is also one of the founders of Filmalaya Studios while her mother, Krishna was a playback singing. Rani Mukherji’s brother, Raja is a film producer and director. On her maternal side, she has Debashree Roy, a National Award winner and actress in Bengali films, as her aunt. Kajol and Tanisha are both Rani’s cousin as both their fathers’ are related to each other. Ayan Mukherjee, writer and director of films like Wake Up Sid, is also one of her cousins.
As a Young Girl
With Her Aunt, Debashree Roy
With Cousin, Kajol
Rani’s Cousin, Ayan
Rani Mukerji is an accomplished dancer who has trained in the classical dance style of Odissi since her the tenth standard. She has done her schooling from the Maneckji Cooper High School in Mumbai and graduation in Home Science from the SNDT Women’s University. Despite her personal reluctance in becoming an actress, Rani was persuaded by her mother to try out films and acting.
In Biyer Phool
In Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat
Rani was first seen in the Bengali film Biyer Phool in 1996, but it was in a cameo appearance. Her first movie as a lead actress in a Bollywood film was the Ashok Gaikwad directed film Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat in 1997; the male lead, Shadaab Khan, son of actor Amjad Khan, was also a newcomer. While, this film was not a box office success, her acting was noticed.
But, it was only in 1998 when things started looking up for Rani Mukherji’s film career; she was given the lead role opposite Aamir Khan in the film Ghulam. The film did moderately well and the song ‘Aati Kya Khandala’ was on everyone’s lips that year.
In Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
But, it was the Karan Johar directed film Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, where she matched up brilliantly against the more author backed role of Kajol’s, that she found her real place in Bollywood. Rani was given a makeover by Manish Malhotra and she was noticed by everyone in her role and for which she was given the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress.Rani’s subsequent films like Mehndi and the Salman Khan starrer Hello Brother did not do well at the box office.
In 2000, Rani was suddenly all over the wide screen in a wide range of film genres: comedy, action and drama. Rani’s played the main female lead in the film Badal that also starred Bobby Deol. The movie was a huge success, though the critics panned it.
In Hey Ram
In the film Hey Ram, Rani had a brief role as the protagonist, Kamal Haasan’s first wife. The film had Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination as the main theme. This film was a success at the box office and India’s official entry for the Oscars that year.The film Bichhoo was released this year, where Rani played a foul mouthed and disturbed character which wasn’t appreciated by the critics and the film too, was a failure at the box office.
In Hadh Kar Di Aapne
2000 was the year that saw the beginning of the Rani-Govinda pairing in comedy films like Hadh Kar Di Aapne. Rani acted in quite a few films with Salman Khan as her co-star during this time; in movies like the Raj Kanwar directed film Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega in which she was appreciated for her performance.
In Chori Chori Chupke Chupke
In 2001, Rani was a part of Abbas Mustan’s film Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, along with Salman Khan and Preity Zinta. The film was based on the unusual theme of Surrogate Motherhood. Her next two films, Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai with Abhishek Bachchan and Nayak: The Real Hero with Anil Kapoor as her co-stars didn’t perform well commercially.
In Mujhse Dosti Karoge!
In 2002 too, Rani had many movies releasing including the Kunal Kohli directed mushy romantic film Mujhse Dosti Karoge! which had Rani acting alongside Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor. This movie while having not too many takers in India, did very well overseas. This film was the beginning of a long relationship with Yash Raj Films. This year also saw two films with Govinda as her male lead in Chalo Ishq Ladaaye and Pyaar Diwana Hota Hai. Both these Govinda starrers were failures at the box office.
2002 was also the year the Shaad Ali directed film Saathiya was released with Rani Mukherji and Vivek Oberoi as the lead pair. This romantic film was appreciated by both the critics as well as movie goers. Rani received the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress for her role as a contemporary woman struggling with the nitty-gritty of married life.
In Chalte Chalte
In 2003, Rani was fortunate to be chosen by Shahrukh Khan to act opposite him in Aziz Mirza’s film Chalte Chalte, after Aishwarya Rai was dropped from the same. Rani looked good and acted even better in this mature love story. Her next few films like Chori Chori with Ajay Devgn as her co-star, LOC Kargil, a multi-starrer and Calcutta Mail with Anil Kapoor did not impress the critics or the movie going audience.
2004 was the year of Mani Ratnam’s film Yuva which had Ajay Devgn, Abhishek Bachchan, Vivek Oberoi, Kareena Kapoor and Esha Deol starring alongside Rani. Her role of a fiery Bengali housewife of a ruffian was enacted brilliantly and her chemistry with Abhishek was appreciated. Her performance fetched her another Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress. This movie was liked by the critics, but was given a thumbs down by the public.
In Hum Tum
The movie going public loved her next film, which was a Yash Raj Productions and had Kunal Kohli directing a modern style romance through the years in the film Hum Tum. Saif Ali Khan played her romantic lead with great style. This big grossing film fetched her her first Filmfare Award for Best Actress. Rani is in fact, the first actress to receive two Filmfare Awards, in both the categories of Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress, in the same year.
In Veer Zaara
2004, was also the year a Yash Chopra directed film was released after many years and that was the super hit film Veer Zaara, in which Rani had a powerful role along with the lead pair Shahrukh Khan and Preity Zinta, who played the title characters.
2005 was a hugely professionally satisfying year for Rani, as she got to act in four interesting movies. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s hit film Black was a brilliantly shot movie with Rani and Amitabh Bachchan playing compelling characters with great complexities. Her superb performance as a blind girl fetched her both the Critics as well as Popular Best Actress Filmfare Awards.
In Bunty Aur Babli
Shaad Ali’s Bunty Aur Babli had Rani playing a con woman along with Abhishek Bachchan. The fun movie was enjoyed by everyone and it became a major hit movie of that year. The next two movies were not so successful despite featuring Shahrukh Khan in the Amol Palekar directed film Paheli and Aamir Khan in the Ketan Mehta directed film The Rising. Paheli was India’s official Oscar entry in the foreign film category and Rani’s performance was appreciated by critics. In The Rising, Rani played a small role of a prostitute.
In Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna
In 2006, Rani teamed up again with Karan Johar in the film Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna that dealt with adultereous relationships. This multistarrer was a chock-a-block with stars of the caliber of Amitabh, Shahrukh, Abhishek and Preity. It was a roaring success overseas, though the Indian public showed their unease with films dealing with extra-marital relationships. Rani’s mature performance was appreciated and she received her third consecutive iifa Award for her acting.
Another of her movies that did well overseas, but didn’t do well at home was B.R.Chopra’s film Baabul with Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan and John Abraham also starring with her.
In Ta Ra Rum Pum
Between 2007 and 2009, Rani appeared in mainly Yash Raj Productions’ films. Siddharth Anand’s Ta Ra Rum Pum had Rani and Saif Ali Khan playing the lead pair. The movie was a moderate success at the box office and her performance was appreciated, though her styling; her wigs, dress style was criticized.
In Laaga Chunari Mein Daag
Her next movie was Pradeep Sarkar’s film Laaga Chunari Mein Daag. The movie also starred Jaya Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Konkona Sen Sharma and Kunal Kapoor. The movie was termed regressive and didn’t perform well at the box office. This year she also starred in a small part of a prostitute with a heart of gold in the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film Saawariya which had debutants Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor as the lead pair. The movie did not garner any appreciative audience.
In Thoda Pyaar, Thoda Magic
In 2008, the public got to see another Saif Ali Khan and Rani starrer in the Kunal Kohli film Thoda Pyaar, Thoda Magic. Rani played a Mary Poppins kind of character and the film impressed no one.
In Dil Bole Hadippa
In keeping with the trend of toned and fit bodies, Rani too, got an envious body for her next outing; Dil Bole Hadippa with Shahid Kapoor as her co-star, which was released in 2009. But, she found no takers for her attempts to carry off a young girl’s role and the film was a flop at the box office.
In No One Killed Jessica
In 2011, Rani was seen in UTV Motion Pictures’ No One Killed Jessica, based on the real life murder of model Jessica Lal. Rani’s performance of a bold and feisty television journalist impressed all and she won her third Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Rani’s fans who would love to see more of their favorite actress’ movies have only Reema Kagti’s film Talaash with Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor and Sachin Kundalkar’s film Aiyaa, to look forward to in 2012.
In Dance Premier League
In 2009, Rani Mukerji made her first appearance on prime time television on the Sony Entertainment Television Channel, in the role of a talent judge in a dance reality show called the Dance Premier League. In 2011, as a part of her film No One Killed Jessica promotions, she appeared as Meera Gaity on the popular TV series C.I.D.
Despite intense speculation regarding her private life, in the media, Rani has been very guarded about her space and while accepting that she is in love, she refuses to reveal any details. She continues to do sporadic stage shows, but remains largely a recluse in the public eye. The previously bubbly, extrovert girl has matured into a very private person. Rani’s many fans and well wishers wish her the very best and many more memorable movies.