She is the queen bee of Hindi Cinema. A distinguished actress, a tremendous performer and a very hard working professional, that’s Rani Mukherji. She has achieved a lot in life yet she approaches every film with the same childlike intensity. In her search for new challenges, she heard the script of Pardeep Sarkar’s Laaga Chunari Mein Daag and decided to go ahead with it. In this experience she excitedly discusses what all went behind making a film like Laaga…Her thoughts on fashion designer Sabyasachi are something to be taken note for the costumes of this film have earned loads of appreciation from all quarters. But let’s start with the music that she is so enamored with…What do you think about the music of Laaga Chunari Mein Daag?
Like every other actor would kind of be biased towards the music of their own film, similarly I am also quite biased towards the music of Laaga Chunari Mein Daag because I would say the music is different. There are different kind of songs in the film which go with the story as much as you will not enjoy the song in the audio you will enjoy it in the film because every song from ‘Hum Toh Aise Hain Bhaiya’ which is a very character based song where we introduce both the sisters in the film myself and Konkana and how these two sisters are in their city of Benaras, their lives, how mischievous they are and basically their love for one and other and for the family and how Jaya Bachchan and Anupam Kher’s character gets introduced in the film. So I think that’s a very character based song, it’s a very energetic, cheerful and a very happy song and I really like it because I like the words ‘Hum Toh Aise Hain Bhaiya’. And it sounds really nice then we have ‘Kachchi Kaliyaan’ which is a UP folk and rap mix so it sounds quite strange but that’s the beauty of this song. When I heard it first and I asked Dada what is this song, so at first when you hear ‘Kachi Kaliyan’ you will get a bit confused about what the song is all about and then later on you realize that there is a bit of UP folk with a little rap that’s what the song is. Then of course, there is Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, the tile track, which I think, is absolutely stunning the way Shubha Mudgal has sung it. The words are really nice in the song they go really well with the character Natasha in the film and it kind of describes what Natasha’s character is going through in her mind at that point of time and what she has been through. The song describes her mental state, so I think that it’s beautifully written and the way they have orchestrated the song is really interesting with the whole Laaga Chunari Mein Daag coming in bits, it’s very beautiful and symbolic to the story. Then of course there is ‘Zara Gungunalein Chalo’ which is a soft, melodious number that takes the story forward because the two characters mine and Abhishek’s become friends in the song. So, it’s a song which kind of helps their story progress in the film so again it’s a very script driven song but yet it’s very melodious. Then there is ‘Ek Theekhi Theekhi Si Ladki’, which is picturized on Kunal and Konkana, which kind of describes Konkana, the girl she is in the film and Kunal the way he is in the film. So, I think it’s a very contemporary number and its shot in a very modern way which is why I like the song very much because it’s not conventionally shot.
Which is your favourite track in Laaga Chunari Mein Daag?
I wouldn’t say that I have any favourite number in the film but I would say ‘Hum Toh Aise Hain Bhaiya’ because that’s the song with which we started the film. It was a lot of fun shooting that song and I have a lot of memories of it. And there is another favorite track of mine, ‘Laaga Chunari Mein Daag’, the title track because we had loads of fun shooting that song and how Sabyasachi was going mad doing the costumes. I remember how he had laid some fifty shoes in my make up room and got some hundred costumes for that song. We finally used probably four to five and he was quite disappointed. Sabyasachi and I tried to push for a lot of costumes in this song and Dada kept on saying we want to shoot the whole song in just one towel. Sabyasachi was somewhat shocked because he had arranged for so many clothes for this song and we finally used just five to six. I think these two tracks will be my favorite.
What was it about the script that made you decide to do this film?
I think the beauty of the script is that it talks about a strong female character in a slightly unconventional way because she takes a decision at a point in her life where it’s really important for her. And she doesn’t go back on her decision and she isn’t ashamed of what she is doing, the very fact that the script talks about the eldest daughter trying to be the son of her house is something that lot of girls will relate to because every elder daughter is pressurized to be the son of the house. And Natasha’s character is in terms of what she does just to prove a point to her parents that she is the boy of the house and the kind of decision she takes is what makes the film very interesting. I will say that it is a strong female character with an unconventional touch. It has shades of grey, which is what interested me about the character and the fact that she is not ashamed about what she has done. It’s something that she has accepted and goes ahead with. And she is not apologetic about it so I feel that is the strength of the character that I am playing in the film.
What was the shooting experience like?
In the film, you will see a beautiful graph where the film starts in Benaras goes into Bombay, then goes into Switzerland, and comes back to Benaras. The journey of all the characters right from Benaras to Bombay to Switzerland and how different they look when they come back to Benaras. But in the same setting and atmosphere how life has changed for them especially the two characters ‘Badki’ and ‘Chutki’ which is played by me and Konkana and how we go through the circle especially Natasha’s character. It was fun shooting everywhere especially our first schedule in Benaras. We were shooting in this Haveli by the Ganga Ghat, it is so relaxing and so soothing. The sunsets at the Ganga Ghats is to die for, so we use to look forward to our evenings and sit by the Ganga and just de-stress ourselves. Bombay being home, it was very comfortable shooting here and then it was Switzerland, it being one of my favorite places in the world. It was great fun shooting there because I went to Switzerland almost after six years. It’s as beautiful as it was six years ago and all your worries and tensions come to a standstill when you enter Switzerland because it’s so peaceful and quite and so beautiful with no pollution that it feels wonderful.
Can you tell us something about your look in the film?
There are three distinct looks in the film for me and I could not have done that without my designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee. I think he is an asset to the film. Sabyasachi and I work very well with each other because we understand each other’s mindset and for me I just have to explain to him what the graph is, what the character is, where the character has emerged from and Sabyasachi knows bang on what I want. Especially for the first Benaras look, I had to look like somebody from there, so designing that look to designing my look when I become Natasha to a normal look for Natasha, there are two different looks for Natasha. The way Sabyasachi understood the characters and his entire input on the way the make up should be; it was a tremendous help for me to have someone like him to do my clothes.
I would say I am completely comfortable with the character’s look, which is a Patyala with a short kurti with a dupatta. I think Sabyasachi has used some wonderful colors because in the first brief we were shooting in Benaras in the galis and next to the ghats so the characters should look very vibrant and colorful. Sabyasachi gets the right colors into the film because he understands the background and what the character should wear so that the character can stand out has been wonderful. I am happy with the colors and the clothes that are in the film. This entire look of Natasha with bright red lipstick was completely Sabyasachi’s idea. At first we were hesitant with this look but I think after we did the look it gelled well with the character. Now when I see the posters I thank Sabyasachi for his suggestion that we do something like that. Otherwise I wouldn’t have ever thought of doing a red lipstick look because I think its not done for ages now, its just come back with this film so I think that is one input from Sabyasachi which was very good for the film.
Which is your favorite outfit from the film which you would like to wear even off screen?
I think Sabyasachi’s churidaar, which he has given me for the second Natasha look are lovely because they are like these ‘strappy’ kurtas with churidaars and the kurtas are long with simple dupattas, a single color tone. They look really nice and I would like to wear them personally.
Any memorable incident during the shoot of the film?
I have so many memories while shooting for Laaga Chunari Mein Daag. My first day of the shoot at Benaras I had got hurt on my nose because Konkana was supposed to play with this rattle and that wooden toy just flung on my nose. I got a cut which started bleeding, that was a very memorable moment for me because I was so nervous as it was the first day of the shoot where we had not shot any of my close ups and I feared that it would swell up and look bad and we might not be able to shoot. But luckily we had a first aid kit which came to my rescue and it was all sorted out. I also have memories of the Laaga Chunari Mein Daag song shoot and I am very close to Dada’s unit. I feel it’s like my family and that everyone is having so much fun on the sets that we don’t realize when we are shooting or when we are having fun. It is like one big Bengali unit, which just keeps eating and if we are not eating then we are shooting but its great fun. Dada, me, Konkana and Jayaji all speaking in Bengali so finally at one point we just mouthed our dialogues in Hindi otherwise we would turn out to be one regional Bengali film. Its great fun to have an entire unit, which is Bengali because I get the feeling of being home as at home everybody, chats in Bengali.
What was it like working with Pradeep Sarkar?
Pradeep Sarkar has an eye for detailing it is so exquisite that nothing can go unnoticed. He is so particular about the frame, about the way his actors are looking and that is wonderful. Many times, we actors concentrate only on our scene and we really do not realize how we are looking. Dada knows how to shoot which character in which way, he has no hang-ups about work. He comes across as a small child, if he wants something out of us he will go to an extent of even crying, so we treat him like the big teddy bear on our sets who we can sometimes bully and have fun with. However, at the end of if, Dada is wonderful to work with I love working with him and feel so good because he always makes me laugh, I am always at my jovial best. The whole unit was just so wonderful to work with that my entire experience with Laaga Chunari Mein daag has been fantastic. I started the film in November and finished in June and I really miss the unit now because Dada is the true captain of the ship.
What was it like working with Howard?
The choreographer is Howard. He is also an Associate director on the film and its wonderful working with Howard because he is like a friend who was trying to get all of us together. Howard is one person whom I can really bully and I really love doing that. The best part about him is that his choreography is so simple that even a person who does not know how to dance can dance with his steps and he makes the steps seem so easy and comfortable that it is amazing to work with a choreographer like him. If you are facing difficulty in doing a step you can just tell him and he will change it for you. It’s also wonderful working with him because he is also the associate director, so we have him rehearsing the lines, scenes for us. Its fun because at times me and Konkana would joke with him by getting him to act our scenes and we would die laughing seeing him act our scenes specially the scenes that was supposed to be acted by a female actor and Howard would actually try and do it like that and that use to be like really funny.