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Rani Mukherjee is one of those versatile actors who can easily shift between glamour & ordinariness and everything in-between.
Rani Mukherjee is undoubtedly one of the best actresses of our times. Not only is she a fine actor, but has done all types of roles, from being a college student to being a mother. She has also acted in some great movies – movies that we all love – like Black, Veer-Zaara, Mardaani, Talaash and No One Killed Jessica. Also of considerable interest are her performances films like Dil Bole Hadippa, and Aiyyaa. Rani has also gone on to do several women-centric roles in No One Killed Jessica and Mardaani.
Considered one of the most versatile actresses that Bollywood has ever produced, she is also a hands-on mother, and is coming out with a new movie, Hichki, on 23rd March 2018.
Mukherjee has received both critical and commercial success, with several of her films doing well at the box office. However, her debut in Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat went unnoticed. Thankfully for us, films like Vikram Bhatt’s Ghulam and Karan Johar’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai brought her to the limelight, after which she achieved success with the masses.
Here is a list of 15 films in which Rani Mukherjee stole the show whenever she was onscreen:
In Yash Raj Films’ Saathiya, Mukherjee played the role of a middle-class woman called Suhani Sharma, who plays a protective wife to Vivek Oberoi’s character, Aditya Sehgal. Rani’s performance was received warmly by critics, who called her performance efficient, and that she plays her part with conviction. For her performance, she was nominated for Best Actress at the Filmfare Awards, but lost to Aishwarya Rai in Devdas.
Mukherjee essayed the role of Meera Gaity, a journalist, in this film. The film itself was inspired by the Jessica Lal murder case. With two female leads, the film opened to immense critical and commercial success, with both Balan’s and Mukherjee’s performances receiving a lot of praise from both critics and the audience. Also of noteworthy mention is Rani’s win for Best Supporting Actress at the Filmfare Awards for the film.
A Mani Ratnam film, Yuva was based on the lives of students entering politics, and powerful politicians. Rani played Seema Biswas, the wife of Lallan Singh (played by Amitabh Bachchan), a woman who was abused by her husband daily. Amongst the three female leads (the others being Kareena Kapoor and Esha Deol), Mukherjee stood her ground, with her performance winning her a second Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Rani proved her acting mettle in this film. She did a political thriller with Mani Ratnam in 2004, and also did a romantic comedy with Kunal Kohli in 2004. She was nominated for both films, and went on to win for Yuva. Hum Tum, the romantic comedy saw her essay the role of Rhea Prakash, based on Meg Ryan’s character in When Harry Met Sally. All of us have seen or heard of that film, haven’t we? Rani effortlessly played a bubbly, happy girl in this film. Critics called her performance “flawless” in the film.
A film directed by Reema Kagti (who also wrote Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara), Talaash was a film in which Rani played the role of Roshni Shekhawat, a mother who lost her only child in a boating accident. In fact, Aamir Khan (who plays her husband) specifically recommended Rani’s name for the character of Roshni, as he thought that she would be a good fit for the role. No surprise, then, that Mukherjee was nominated, yet again, for her performance in the film. Critics called her “the finest actress of her generation”.
A legend by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Black was a film that changed Rani’s career for the better. Both critically and commercially successful, critics had to say “Rani does it (the role) with a fluid maturity that is great to watch.” Her character, that of a deaf and blind girl, was inspired from Helen Keller. She was awarded with praise not only in India, but also at the Cannes Film Festival, where the film premiered. She was awarded with her second Filmfare for Best Actress, for her role as Michelle McNally.
A 2005 film, Bunty Aur Babli revolved around 2 mad and funny crooks who go around committing crimes, often looting innocent people and getting away with lakhs of money. Rani’s role in the film, Babli a.k.a. Vimmi Saluja, was loved by everyone. Sukanya Verma, from Rediff said praised Rani’s performance in the film, saying that her casting was indispensable, and that she brought the character to life with her vivacious performance.
Needless to say, Mukherjee got nominated for her portrayal of Vimmi, at the Filmfare Awards, for Best Actress.
One amongst her several collaborations with YRF, Veer-Zaara made Rani one of the leading actresses in the 2000s. She played a Pakistani lawyer trying to free an Indian man (played by Shah Rukh Khan), who came to Pakistan to find his lover, a Pakistani woman (played by Preity Zinta). Several dialogues from the film, voiced by the star-cast, are popular even today. One of the most famous dialogues from the film is “Yeh khuda ke roop mein insaan hai…ya insaan ke roop mein khuda?” which Mukherjee said. Critics were impressed with her powerful and gritty performance in the film.
In an extremely flamboyant Karan Johar film with 4 stars, it’s not easy to stand out. But that’s exactly what Rani Mukherjee did in KANK. She gave a hard-to-miss performance as Maya Talwar, a married woman who is having an affair with Dev Saran (also played brilliantly by Shah Rukh Khan). Her poignant and heart-wrenching execution of some scenes brought tears to the audience. She provided a relatable and tender character for all of us.
Also, she won the IIFA Award for Best Actress for the third time, for her performance in KANK. She was also nominated for several awards, including the Filmfare Awards and the Star Screen Awards.
An Amol Palekar film, Rani played the role of a enthusiastic young bride in Paheli. Also sent as India’s official entry to the 2004 Oscars, the film showed all sides of Rani’s character, be it the sensual one, emotional one, or the angry one. She gave a fine performance alongside Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla (not an easy thing to do!), and she played her part to the hilt, without over-acting.
One of her more recent films, Rani played the role of Shivani Shivaji Roy, a Senior Inspector. The film focused on the issue of child trafficking, and how a single woman saves a girl from prostitution. For her performance in the film, Mukherjee received a standing ovation from Poland’s Kino Murakow theatre, an acclaimed art house in Poland. It received amazing reviews in both India and abroad. Rani was also nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress in 2015, and won the same year at the Stardust Awards for Mardaani.
Reuniting with Shah Rukh Khan for this film, Rani Mukherjee played the role of Priya Saxena, a girl who has her entire life planned out for her. Rani’s character knew exactly what she wanted to do in life. Several critics felt that she was suited for the character, and that her look in the film completely suited her. Her chemistry with Shah Rukh Khan was the highlight of the film, as they made the film more believable.
One of her earliest films, Rani Mukherjee teamed up with Kamal Haasan for this film, which focuses on communal violence in the early 19th century. She played Aparna, the wife of Kamal Hassan’s character, who does not survive the Partition of Bengal. Despite having limited screen time, she was able to make her presence felt, almost at par with a legend like Haasan. Critics loved the scenes between the both of them.
Working with Pradeep Sarkar for the first time (Mardaani was the second time she worked with him), Rani played the role of Vibhavari Sahay, the elder daughter of the Sahay family. Her character is fiercely protective of her entire family, and is affectionately called “Badki”. Her performance, along with those of her female co-stars (Konkona Sen Sharma and Jaya Bachchan) made this movie worth a watch. While the film received mixed reviews, her performance was well received by everyone. She was also nominated for the Best Actress award at Filmfare.
Reuniting with Sanjay Leela Bhansali after Black, Mukherjee played the role of a proud prostitute in Saawariya. Rajeev Masand called her performance earnest, and other critics found her to be the only relatable character in the entire film. She made the film look good, and gave an effortless performance in this film as well. She was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Filmfare Awards for Saawariya.
These are just 15 movies that Rani Mukherjee proved her acting chops. Her upcoming film, Hichki, releasing today, on 23rd March 2018, looks amazing. Check it out in a theatre near you!
Header image is a screenshot from the movie