Rani on a fun ride

Her signature husky voice greets me on the other end of the telephone line. I get a sense of her on-screen persona when she strikes up a fun conversation almost immediately. In fact, she takes my side over the publicist's when I mention the ban on personal questions. "Ask me absolutely anything your heart desires," she quips, oozing a certain amount of warmth that's not very common among Bollywood's glitterati. And it's this spunk, to fight the norm, that gives her an edge over her dolled-up competitors, making Mukherjee a true star.

I wonder if it's nervousness after returning to the big screen from a sabbatical that prompts her to put up a confident front for the media. But minutes into our chat, I'm assured that this powerhouse performer doesn't need to thrill the media to win over an audience.

"If you are sincere and work diligently, there's nothing that can stop you from getting more work. I think success is perceived differently by the media. For people like me there's no dearth of work," asserts the confident actress.

Despite stepping back from the spotlight after Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic, she convinces me that there was no real gap in her professional life. In fact, the entire period was dedicated to grooming herself for her latest Bollywood project - Dil Bole Hadippa. "For the past year I've been working on Dil Bole Hadippa because the film demanded so much time. I didn't know to play cricket and I had to train for six months, so during this time I couldn't sign any project. Six months later, we started filming. Once I finished shooting, the Mumbai cinema strike crept in, leaving no scope for other offers," she says.

But she's quick to accept that despite being among the top performers, her unlucky run at the box office with her last three films has left an impact on her. She has no qualms about admitting that she'll go to any extent to reclaim her top title, which explains why she has worked so hard to get fit. "I had to be in better shape to play a cricketer. I didn't want to look out of shape while portraying a sportsperson. I did a lot of yoga and weight training - it worked wonders." And she hopes her new toned look will win some future projects as well. "I'd like to do an action film next because that's the only genre that I haven't tapped into," she adds.

And despite taking a break from acting for almost a year, the media still cashed in on her personal life, with alleged link-ups making top news. The actress, however, points out that there's no man in her life at the moment.

"Please tell your readers that they can send me their proposals. Not that I'm going to accept them now, but I'm single and ready to mingle."

However, there's a sudden dip in her tone when we touch on how she tackles bad media publicity. "I usually ignore it for a long time. However, when my fans get affected then I feel disappointed."

Her infectious and fun streak reappears when she marks me as the hundred and first person to quiz her about her ‘exclusive' bond with Yash Raj Films, but quickly disputes any truth to such allegations. "No actor sticks to any banner. We actors are like beggars waiting for a great role. We are so greedy that we'll jump at the opportunity to get a good role. So it just depends on whether other film studios offer me a great role or not."

However, the Bengali beauty accepts that box office success takes precedence over critical acclaim. "I think box office success is important since it determines whether a lot of people have watched my film. For me, my audience is number one. Of course critical acclaim is vital, as it pushes more people to go to the cinema."

Looking at her careful choices, I'm not surprised to learn that she hasn't signed on any projects at the moment. "Right now I'm listening to a lot of scripts. What really excites me today is not the run-of-the-mill characters. To crack a nut like me, I need someone like Veer (her character in Dil Bole Hadippa) to excite me. Actually, I'm looking for a role that the audiences will enjoy watching."

With such foresight and determination, we only hope her next movie will be shown to packed houses and give her the much desired push to the top slot. Until then, she'll continue to rule our hearts!

Hadippa Days

Rani for Dil Bole Hadippa...

"There are three reasons why I picked this film. Firstly, my fans have been complaining that I've been crying a lot in my films, so I grabbed this opportunity so I could make them laugh! Secondly, it gave me the challenge of playing a man. And thirdly I got to play a sport."

Playing a man...

"I don't think it's difficult to play a man, because they are really cute."

Shahid Kapur...

"...is charming and an absolute delight to work with. He's very hard-working, sincere and focused. And that's why I like him. He's a fabulous dancer and I had a great time performing with him."

Shades of Rani...

"I'm present in all my characters. You can't take me away or alienate me from any character."

Rani's pick

Films

Right now, it's got to be Dil Bole Hadippa, Dil Bole Hadippa, Dil Bole Hadippa

Movie Songs

Dil Bole Hadippa, Discowale Khisko and Bhangra Beats

Performances

Her personal favourites are her performances in Black, Bunty Aur Babli and Dil Bole Hadippa

Designers

Manish Malhotra, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, as well as Stella McCartney

Fitness rules

Keep your mouth zipped,practice yoga, do some weight training and cardio

De-stress tips

Just be happy, Don't worry about how the world looks at you and drink a lot of green tea!

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