India Insight

Interview: Rani Mukerji on playing “Mardaani” roles in Bollywood films

In 1997, when the top-grossing Bollywood films were a mix of fluffy romantic comedies and maudlin love triangles, a barely 20-year-old Rani Mukerji made her Hindi film debut playing a rape victim who is asked to marry her tormentor and faces innumerable challenges in her quest for dignity.

ranimukherjiRemembering that and the other films where she played a strong female character, a newly married Mukerji told India Insight she likes to strike a balance between what she calls substantial roles and those written only for entertaining fans. Her latest film “Mardaani,” (“Masculine”) produced by her producer husband, sees Mukerji in the role of a tough police officer out to bust a child-trafficking ring.

“I have always tried to portray strong women in all the films that I have done because I do feel that when people see movies they get very moved and they do feel inspired,” she said about the roles that she prefers.

That said, Mukerji does not agree that Bollywood or films in general should take responsibility for what messages people take from films.

“In the creative field you will make different kinds of movies. So with this film we are expecting that women will get motivated to probably bring out the mardaani in them. At the same when somebody is making an out-and-out comedy, an out-and-out masala film, you don’t know what a person might take from it. So how can you be responsible for each and every citizen who comes and watches a film?” she said in response to criticism of the film industry after recent cases of violence against women.

Movie Review: Main Tera Hero

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

When you think about it, David Dhawan’s latest comedy is more tragic than comic. In almost every frame of “Main Tera Hero”, you see glimpses of a film-maker desperately trying to restore his former glory by using the same gags in a newer, more polished setting — and failing miserably.

When Dhawan hit box-office gold in the 1990’s, the humour in his films was often crude and irreverent. His most successful leading man, Govinda, often played a flashy, street-smart but pudgy hero.

In “Main Tera Hero”, Dhawan’s leading man — his son Varun — has a perfectly sculpted body (which he is not averse to showing off; even the film’s credits show him flexing muscles and working out) and there are holier-than-thou lectures on how men should stop objectifying women.

Post-release marketing helps ‘Queen’ rule box office

Vikas Bahl’s film wasn’t supposed to make so much money. “Queen,” made on a meagre budget of 170 million rupees ($2.8 million) without the trappings of a big-ticket Bollywood movie, was initially slotted as a niche film that would hardly threaten Indian box-office records.

“Queen” didn’t have a leading male star, a key ingredient in the recipe for box-office success. It also had an unusual storyline, about an Indian woman who is jilted at the altar and goes on a solo trip to Paris and Amsterdam.

Bollywood audiences have traditionally shunned women-oriented films. And “Queen,” released on the eve of International Women’s Day, had a dismal first day, earning 15 million rupees ($250,000) in domestic box-office receipts.

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