Rani Mukerji is back with the sequel to the blockbuster Mardaani in which she played Shivani Shivaji Roy, an IPS officer with the Mumbai Police Crime Branch, who uncovers a human trafficking racket. In Mardaani 2, her character has been promoted as the Superintendent of Police (SP). “In the first film, I was in the crime branch and I was working underground. In Mardaani 2, I am an SP. I appear for the IPS examinations and I am shown wearing a khaki uniform. We have dealt with a very topical issue about a young man who rapes and murders women in the film,” says Rani.
On sporting a khaki uniform, she says, “When you wear khaki, you have to maintain law and order head-on. There are restrictions when you wear it and there are challenges too. Shivani Shivaji Roy’s character is the same but her status has changed here.”The actor says it’s time women learned different forms of martial arts to protect and empower themselves.
“Today, crime does not have any face or age. He (the perpetrator) may look young and innocent but we don’t know what is going on in his mind. Earlier when we would watch movies, villains had a certain image. Today, he may look like a hero but he may be a villain. Women live in a society where they need to bring out their inner strength and empower themselves. That naari shakti (women power) has to come out. The ‘durga’ that is residing in every woman should be strong and must come out,” says the actor.
Rani believes that the change needed in society has to begin from home. “Young boys must be taught how to respect women. Teaching respect begins at home and then from schools. As a society, we need to look at ourselves inwards and try to teach our children what’s right and figure out where we are going wrong. “
Yash Raj Films took a long five years before coming up with a sequel to Mardaani because they felt they had to return with a stronger topic. “We didn’t want to make a sequel just for the sake of making it. We wanted a topic that is relevant and important and is related to us,” explains the 41-year-old. Despite returning after a hiatus, Rani has not signed any other film. She also thinks that she is not ready for her debut on any OTT platform. “I’m busy with my child and these platforms require a lot of time. Right now my priority is 30 to 40 days of shoot, finishing a film and returning to my family,” she says.
She also reveals her strengths have grown multifold. “When you are young, you feel that you are the queen of the world. But you come to know your strengths only when you become a mother. You realise the true embodiment of women when you bring a life into this world. I think Bengali women are ubconsciously strong as they pray to Maa Durga.
The idol of Maa Durga has the hefty Mahishasur lying at her feet as she proceeds to kill him. I’ve grown up in such an empowered atmosphere. My father was from Jhansi and he used to take me to the Jhansi fort and show me the place from where Rani Jhansi jumped with her horse with her child strung to back. That has been my upbringing. For me, men have always been weaker than woman. I want Indian women to come out and start talking about these issues,” she concludes.