By: Manju Chandran
POPULAR Bollywood actress Rani Mukerji turns a year older this week and will celebrate her 43rd birthday on March 21.
The award-winning star has entertained audiences globally since she was a teenager in a wide array of big-screen entertainers. So, the perfect way to celebrate her life and powerful performances during this pandemic is to add her best films to your lockdown watchlist.
With that in mind, Eastern Eye selected her 10 best movies in chronological order and provided you with interesting facts connected to each one.
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998): Actresses including Twinkle Khanna, Raveena Tandon, Karisma Kapoor and Urmila Matondkar turned down the role that was eventually offered to then newcomer Rani Mukerji. The iconic romance with the winning soundtrack, co-starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, smashed records globally and remains one of the most loved Bollywood films of all time. The film turned Rani into a huge star and was the beginning of her rapid rise.
Saathiya (2002): The critically acclaimed Bollywood remake of Tamil romance Alaipayuthey won hearts of audiences around the world. Mukerji delivers a masterful performance opposite Vivek Oberoi in the story of a man looking for his lost wife and events that led to them falling in love. The beautifully crafted film with a standout soundtrack has plenty of life lessons and a winning cameo from Shah Rukh Khan.
Chalte Chalte (2003): The first home production hit for Shah Rukh Khan is a drama of a couple from different backgrounds, who fall in love and must deal with their differences after marriage. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was initially supposed to play the love interest opposite Shah Rukh Khan but got replaced by Mukerji and she paid off that faith with another winning turn.
Hum Tum (2004): Mukerji won multiple Best Actress awards for her mesmerising performance in a film that was very much inspired by classic Hollywood film When Harry Met Sally. She stars opposite Saif Ali Khan in the story of two individuals who meet at different points in their lives and eventually fall in love.
Veer-Zaara (2004): The actress plays an important supporting role of a crusading Pakistani lawyer in the cross-border romance, co-starring Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta. The highest grossing film of 2004 is set across two time periods and filled with emotion. One of the most interesting innovations the movie had was songs composed by music maestro Madan Mohan, which had sat incomplete for decades and were given a new lease of life.
Black (2005): Mukerji and Amitabh Bachchan both deliver arguably the best performances of their respective careers in this Bollywood masterpiece of a young girl who can’t see, hear or speak and has a unique bond with a teacher. The Sanjay Leela Bhansali directed drama inspired by 1962’s The Miracle Worker, which itself was inspired by real events, has a number of technical innovations and won a record-breaking number of awards at the time.
Bunty Aur Babli (2005): The crime comedy saw Mukerji and Abhishek Bachchan play clever thieves being pursued by a police officer, memorably portrayed by Amitabh Bachchan. The film, which won great reviews, worked a little too well because it inspired a spate of copycat con artists. There is what has been described as a spiritual sequel on the way with the actress returning for it.
No One Killed Jessica (2011): The biographical crime drama based on real-life events revolves around the sister of a deceased woman and a news reporter trying to get justice. Mukerji and Vidya Balan are superb in the acclaimed drama, which echoed the famous Jessica Lal murder case.
Mardaani (2014): The actress took on the lead role in this glass-ceiling shattering crime drama that saw her play a tough cop on the trail of a human-trafficker. She breathes fire into the role for which she learned various martial arts, including Krav Maga. The film would spawn a sequel and has a memorable fight scene at the end.
Hichki (2018): The actress got her ninth Filmfare Best Actress nomination in the beautifully unique movie that was an adaptation of Brad Cohen’s 2005 autobiography Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had. She plays an inspiring teacher with Tourette syndrome, who battles against the odds and inspires students. Like many of her roles, it was a unique character not done before and showed there is no one quite like Rani Mukerji.