BOLLYWOOD >ACTRESS > BIOGRAPHY > Rani Mukherjee
Rani Mukherjee has more filmi relations than you can count on your fingertips. She's the daughter of Ram Mukherjee, who directed films like 'Leader' and 'Hum Hindustani'. Her mother used to be a playback singer. Her aunt, Debashree Roy, is a well-known Bengali actress. And of course, her most famous star connection is cousin Kajol.
In the early days, while Rani was struggling to build a career in films, it was this 'Kajol's cousin' tag that stuck to her for the longest time. It couldn't have been a happy feeling, especially considering the fact that her famous sister was then the hottest selling actress on the scene. And Rani was largely viewed as an upstart (by the film press) trying to do a 'me too'.
Her debut, with producer Salim's 'Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat' (1996), too turned out to be a damp squib at the box-office. However, this low-budget project did get her some rave reviews.
Besides, her striking screen presence caught the fancy of two very important people. The first was 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' (1998) director Karan Johar, who sought her out for a role that many a star had turned down. The second was Vikram Bhatt (or was it Aamir Khan?), who cast her as the leading lady in 'Ghulam' (1998).
'Ghulam' (which release first) gave her instant fame and a new label: 'The "Aati kya Khandala" girl. Thanks to the huge success of this song and the film itself, Rani hit the big league and found a huge following amongst the masses.
The icing on the cake was 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai', a film that had been eagerly awaited for the prospective battle of the Mukherjee cousins. While Kajol was, beyond doubt, the film's heroine, Rani too had her share of meat in the supporting role of Shah Rukh's first wife, Tina.
Suddenly there was a furious debate about exactly what made Rani Mukherjee click (for a raging hit she was, especially with the male population): her daring, baring clothes, her husky voice, or the little peek you got into her acting abilities.
Whatever it was, this film helped Rani zoom into the happening league and suddenly, she was everyone's favourite new star! Even a dud like 'Hello Brother' (1999) couldn't affect her newfound status.
So, Kamal Haasan was picking her out for his epic 'Hey! Ram', Indra Kumar was begging her for dates (via Aamir Khan) to make a guest ppearance in 'Mann' and half a dozen other producers were sitting pretty having already signed her up.
This month, Rani has had two dramatically diverse releases. The first was a lacklustre performance in an eminently forgettable 'Badal'. Rani was outrageously loud, making you wonder what's so special about her anyway?
The second release, 'Hey! Ram', however, answered that question most emphatically. Here, she played Kamal Haasan' Bengali wife Aparna. In a small but significant role, Rani showed exactly why she's so much in demand.
And going by the way the year 2000 has taken off for her, there are sure to be some more fireworks from the Mukherjee girl in months to come.
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