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Revisiting Rani Mukerji’s 5 iconic roles on her birthday that broke stereotypes

Rani Mukerji, who turns 46 on March 21, has played a wide variety of characters during her career.

Rani Mukerji carved her own route in her film career, which spanned more than two decades. The performer, who made her Bollywood debut in Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat, has gone a long way. Rani has worked in both commercial and arthouse movies, and she has always strived to create a balance while portraying a variety of characters. She has always given her all when it comes to expressing difficult emotions, doing energetic dances, or lip syncing romantic tunes. However, the most distinctive feature of her filmography is her portrayal of strong yet realistic women onscreen. A look at some of her most memorable roles, which challenged conventions about female characters and narrative in Indian cinema. (Read more: Rani recounts how Aditya Chopra’s flicks failed at the box office.(after pandemic)

Rani played Shashi, a Bengali housewife married to a goon named Lallan Singh from Bihar, in Yuva. In the Mani Ratnam flick, her on-screen chemistry with Abhishek Bachchan, who plays Lallan, was spot on. Aside from exposing student politics, Rani’s portrayal of a woman who decides to remain in an abusive marriage was an important feature of Yuva. Without any lengthy monologues, the actress conveyed a range of feelings that women experience in a household fueled by guns and violence.

Shashi’s role is neither victim nor hero, since she decides to reconcile with a toxic relationship. However, the reality with which Rani played her role resonated with the audience. There is a well-balanced approach which is neither shiny nor larger-than-life. A well-crafted story that reflected Rani and Abhishek’s talent.

Rani played Pakistani lawyer Saamiya Siddiqui in Yash Chopra’s romance drama Veer-Zaara, which also starred Shah Rukh Khan and Priety Zinta in prominent roles. Rani’s character defends the case of an Indian Air Force pilot charged with espionage by the Pakistani government. Shah Rukh plays Squadron Leader Veer Pratap Singh, who falls in love with Preity’s Zara Hayat Khan, who is of Pakistani descent. The video was filmed in 2004 during a critical period and was aimed to bridge the gap between the neighboring countries. The film illustrates the concept of love across cultural and geographic boundaries. However, Rani’s performance gave conviction to the story. She appeared convincing as the sympathetic and virtuous lawyer who associates justice with compassion.

In Black, Rani played Michelle McNally, a two-year-old who loses her sight and hearing while recovering from an illness. The Sanjay Leela Bhansali-directed film was based on Helen Keller’s novel The Story of My Life. The picture was ahead of its time because few directors were willing to challenge traditional storytelling conventions. Black, starring Rani as Michelle and Amitabh Bachchan as Debaraj Sahai, is a love story about a pupil and her instructor. The acting abilities of both actors suit Sanjay’s vision of songless but compelling cinema. Rani’s efforts to imbibe Michelle’s essence are obvious in every frame of Black. Her lone performance, which did not include any lip sync songs or conversation other than her character breaking the fourth wall, was well received by the audience. The film was a watershed moment in many ways, as it inspired both actors and directors to explore beyond the box and try experimental cinema.

Rani played Shivani Shivaji Roy, an Indian police officer who fights criminals on his own. Both installments of the Mardaani franchise deal with crime against women and the corrupt ecology that justifies gender crimes based on traditional social norms. Rani’s Shivani fights not only gangsters and murders, but also the patriarchal mindset of officials who are unapologetically victim blaming. Sensitive subjects such as human trafficking and stalking are depicted with extreme realism in Mardaani and Mardaani 2. Rani’s acting talent shines through once more as she plays a tough cop with artistic skill.

Inspired by true events, the film tells the story of an Indian couple whose five-month-old daughter is taken away by Norwegian authorities. The Ashima Chibber-directed film, which stars Nikkhil Advani, dives into the anguish of a mother fighting against the entire nation to reclaim her daughter. At a time when filmmakers were solely interested in high-octane action and VFX, Rani took on a challenging part that was well accepted by the audience. Her portrayal of Mrs Debika Chatterjee once again demonstrated her capacity to push herself beyond her comfort zone. Despite the character’s fragility and helplessness, Rani nails it in her portrayal of human perseverance and parental determination.



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