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Courteous, professional, and talented: there's not much to whisper about Rani -- except when it comes to Govinda...
With a film producer father and a grandfather who founded Filmalaya, Hindi cinema's most famous studio, Rani's voyage to stardom should have been smooth sailing. But when her debut film turned out to be a disastrous failure -- inspiring derision in critics and laymen alike -- that was that.
Or so everyone thought.
Undeterred, Rani signed opposite Aamir Khan in Ghulam, taking a glamor doll role deemed too trivial for the consideration of successful actresses. Worse yet, her low, hoarse voice was deemed a liability in an industry where heroines should squeak rather than scratch. Her voice dubbed, her part maligned, she might have been overlooked completely, had not one of Ghulam's tunes, sung by Aamir Khan himself, become a national craze, eventually adopted by Coca Cola as their new theme song.
Yet just as the pundits regrouped to predict the 'Aati Kya Khandala' girl would fade away, Rani was roped in by a desperate Karan Johar for his debut film as a director. Johar had approached a bevy of stars -- including Aishwarya Rai, Raveena Tandon, Tabu, and Twinkle Khanna -- but the part opposite Shahrukh and Kajol was considered too small by the majority of actresses.
How they must regret their decision: the film, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, went on to become one of the most successful films in history, and Rani's role leveraged her to the top of the heap. Now, after her back-to-back films Saathiya and Chalte Chalte have broken the two year dry spell at the Bollywood box office, she not only commands top prices, but vies in critics' columns for number one status.
likes to speculate on the relationship between Rani and cousin
Kajol. While the two are not particularly close, they don't hate
each other, as rumored after the release of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.
Though Rani acknowledges their differences -- "Kajol is Kajol
and I am what I am. You can't compare the two of us. We are as
different as chalk is from cheese" -- she also stresses,
"I respect Kajoldi as an actress a great deal. We are a very
close-knit family and we dont have to get clicked together
to prove that." (Hindustan Times)
regards to her many-times co-star Govinda (AKA 'Chi Chi'), the
rumor mill has been on full throttle for years now. Whether it's
actually true or not, the entire film world seems to believe that
Rani is having a torrid affair with him. Tales proliferate of
their secret getaways, of Govinda's wife confronting her on set
in Mauritius and even training for a marathon in order to woo
him back home. Rani regularly denies the connection, but no one
listens. "These rumours about our so-called affair are baseless.
[But] you will never believe me. Because you've decided that we
are involved and now even if I shout from rooftops, you'll pay
no heed. So I've stopped even reacting to such questions. We both
know that all this is a part of being in this field. There's nothing
else the press can write about us. So it's easy for them to cook
up a story to keep us in the news. So let them. I'm not bothered."
(Filmfare, Feb 2000)
On other fronts, Rani takes constant abuse regarding her weight. Malicious spectators like to dissect Rani's movies scene by scene, guessing the order in which they were filmed by tracking her fluctuating size. Rani herself is resigned to the issue, describing her most awkward moment as "When people would comment on my weight first and greet me later." (Filmfare, Feb 2000) Frankly, we think the detractors are just jealous -- or the nefarious tools of a trillion crore diet industry!
Raja Ki Aayegi Baarat
1998 Kuch Kuch Hota Hai*
1999 Hello Brother
2000 Hadh Kar Di Aapne
2000 Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega*
2000 Hey Ram*
2000 Kahin Pyaar Na Ho Jaaye
2001 Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai
2001 Chori Chori Chupke Chupke*
2001 Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham*
2002 Chori Chori
2002 Mujhse Dosti Karoge
2002 Pyaar Deewana Hota Hai
2003 Chalte Chalte*
2003 Chori Chori*
2003 LOC: Kargil
2004 Hum Tum*
* acclaimed performance