When you look like Rani Mukerji, producers are going to fall over themselves offering you the "big" roles — as the romantic interest of the real star of the film. What's more, when the actress in is Rani herself, you just cannot think twice. But Kunal Kohli did. For the very first time onscreen, you will see Rani Mukerji not being able to love her co-star Saif Ali Khan in Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic. In an exclusive interview for Bollywood Hungama, Mukerji confesses that it's a testament to her acting skills that she carried off the role with such aplomb, as Devansh Patel finds out more.
What fairy or angel stories influenced you when you were growing up?
That's a good question, a little different from what the others are asking me (laughs). I've seen Mary Poppins and I loved it because we used to sing one of the very famous songs from that film in my singing class which I can't recall now. That's one film. And ofcourse, Sound of Music, though she wasn't an angel in the film but that was one movie I really liked watching as a kid and even now.
You are not only a movie star but a character actress as well. I mean, how hard do you have to work to create the characters you have portrayed in films such as Black, Bunty Aur Babli, Hum Tum and now Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic?
It takes a little bit of your focus to get into the skin of any character. I think I just have to be a bit more observant of the people and watch them in different walks of life and draw inspiration from it. In Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic, this angel is a lot Indianized and unfortunately I could not get inspired for my role because I haven't seen a real life angel but I've just given my own touch to it.
The film has got fantasy, it's got reality, kids, Saif Ali Khan and yourself. So what's new in the film that tags it 'unusual'?
What is unusual is that I am playing an angel and I don't think that the Indian cinema, in the last 50 years, has made a film like TPTM. We have had films like Mr India, Koi Mil Gaya and Krishh. But we really haven't seen any women doing anything with super-natural powers before. So this is one film which is a perfect blend between fantasy and real life, and that is TPTM's USP. What's more is that I am not allowed to love in the film. That makes it a bit unusual too, isn't it?
We don't usually see angels perform stunts. But did you come across any cliff-hanging expereince in TPTM?
There aren't any such stunts as you mentioned but it's just me cycling down the rainbow to get to the Earth and sitting on different planets trying to create lunar and solar eclipse, so she basically does these things because she is a brat angel who loves to play pranks like throws stars on other angels and harrases them and floats on the swimming pool when she is made to fall down in the pool, etc. These are some of the many things she does in the film.
From being a brat, lets move on to some emotions. We've seen how well you can portray emotions in films. Then what challenged you as an actress for a role like this one which has no emotions?
I think that was something that really made me do this film in the first place because it was my first film in which I will not be seen crying and for me that's wonderful because I have played so many characters who cry in each and every film. Infact, Kunal Kohli has saved a lot of glycerine in this film (laughs).
You're 12 years old in the Hindi Film Industry and now that you've become so choosy, do you find that you've become too old for certain roles or too young for other roles?
I don't think anybody can be too old or too young for any role. It just depends on what kind of role you want to do and you have to be intelligent enough to choose roles which you feel that the audiences would like to see you in. Bearing in mind mu height, I can't play a teenage girl of 16 in any film. That will push it a bit too far. But having said that, in movie making, there is nothing impossible that the actors can or can't do. It depends on how fit you are and how good you look. Personally, I'd like to do roles that I enjoy playing and I feel something worthwhile to do in it rather than decide I'm too old or too young for it.
A film like TPTM will surely end something like - '...and happily ever after'. Do you think it's just a myth or can Bollywood change the happy endings in such films?
Kids are so optimistic by nature and they are so positive that I think, any film with kids in them should have a happy ending because these kids are the future of our country who will bring a change in our society, for good, I hope. Plus, there is so much violence out there in the real world that it's wise to show good side in kids and end the film on a happy note.
Is there any frustration after you've done the film and seen it and it all works fine, but you know you could have done something else to make it work better?
I think that happens with every actor. I don't think that's only with me. All the good actors are always complaining about their work not being good and that they could've done better. But film making is all about that moment where you take the shot and where the shot is canned and you have to be as spontanious and as good as you can be at that point of time. Then they can spend their entire lifetime thinking that Oh, I could have been better. The fact is, when a shot is canned, you have to be focused and have all your energies in that particular shot because it's gone into celluloid forever.
What was it like joining a cast and crew that had already worked together?
It just makes it simpler and much easier. This is Saif's second film with Kunal but my third film with both of them. So I have a great working relationship with them and a great rapport. When you are working with like minded people, it just becomes easier to work.
Out of all the Kunal Kohli films you've done, what would you consider your most memorable one?
Hum Tum because I got my first Best actress award for that film which makes it all the more special.
Any aspects of your character you identify with while playing the angel, besides being a brat?
(Laughs) Yes, I do by bringing in a lot of happiness in peoples life and always smiling.
When you talk about any angel, you create in your mind a special wardrobe for them which any director would. But has the designer made your look very simple or is it something extra special we'll be seeing in the film?
When she is in heaven, she is dressed up like the other angels but when she comes on Earth, she has a different wardrobe and that is one look that she has in the entire film. We could have experimented with many things but as we did not specifically know and have not seen any angel in real life, we had to go by the fairy tale books, paintings and costumes worn by other actors who have portrayed the role of angels before. The costumes aren't that special but the acting is.
How does it feel not being able to love your co-star in TPTM?
I think it's very interesting because I've already played a lot of romantic roles and love romancing on screen. This was one welcome change in my character. And as you know I'm very hungry and excited to play different roles, this was also one of them which I really enjoyed playing.
With so many stars turning bloggers, when do we see you join the elite club?
When I really find the time to do that. Right now, I'm too busy and loaded with work.