Rani Mukerji has revealed what actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan said to her that made her more self-confident about her height and her brilliant skill-set as an actor.
Rani and Kamal’s critically acclaimed movie “Hey Ram” has completed 20 years of its release in the Hindi film industry. The “Mardaani” actress goes down memory lane and shared interesting life lessons that she learnt from the movie, directed by the southern superstar Kamal Haasan.
“‘Hey Ram’ has been one of my most major learning curves. Getting an opportunity to work with Kamal Haasan for me at that point in my career was something very special because I was always an admirer of his performance and his acting and here I was going to get directed by him. So, I think it was one of those opportunities that I didn’t want to let go and I remember going to Chennai for the shoot,” she said.
Rani says she loved every second of just being on the sets of “Hey Ram”.
“What I loved about ‘Hey Ram’ was the discipline of the entire shoot. There was a bell that used to ring for the take to start, there was a time given for make-up, there was a time given for hair which today is very normal in the way actor’s shoot,” she said.
Rani added: “Today, there is a shoot call, there is a call time, there is make-up time, there is hair time, there is costume time, but in Hey Ram that I actually saw a production house following every aspect of this and that was amazing.
“The first shot used to be taken at 6 in the morning and pack up used to be at the time that the bell used to ring. They used to not go even one minute more than that time and even if there was a take left to be shot like even if we had rehearsed for the shot and the bell rang for pack up we would have to pick up that scene the next day, which for me was completely a new experience because of this work ethic and work discipline on a set.”
Kamal gave Rani invaluable lessons in building self-confidence.
“I remember in those times, because I am quite short, I remember wearing these platform slippers and Kamalji looked at my slippers and said ‘wow, wow what are these!’ I said I was very comfortable walking in platform slippers, but, because my height is short. He said ‘are you crazy?, just wear flats. You are not to be measured by how tall you are but your achievements will measure who you’ are and I think that also stayed with me,” she said.
“From then on, I was confident about my height. To be an actor, you don’t necessarily need to be tall. Being an actor is about performing, is about acting and that is the biggest lesson I learnt from Kamalji.”
The 41-year-old actress was seen in no make up for the film, which was a huge learning for her.
“Getting to be directed by Kamalji, I think, I have learnt a lot from him. It was very, very, special. I remember the first day walking onto the set — Kamalki looked at me and said okay now you can go and wash your face and come back. I was like what is he saying, he was like ‘ya ya just go and wash your face and come back’ and I remember going back; as an artiste, you always have the insecurity of facing the camera without make-up.
“I remember being slightly insecure about the fact that he was asking me to wash my face and I went back just removing some of it and I went back on set and he looked at me and said no, I need you to wash your face again. I said but I have washed, he said no you have not washed!”
“He said to go back and wash it as if you are leaving the set after pack-up, I said ok and I went back and actually removed all my make-up and I came to set completely stripped of all make-up. At that time, doing a film without make-up was unheard of. Kamal Ji came and he put the bindi on me and he told the makeup artist to just put little kajal in my eyes and then he said yes, ‘now my Aparna is ready’.”
Rani said that was the first time she “understood actresses or actors don’t need that much make-up”.
“You can actually do a film without make-up. It all depends on the lighting, the lenses the cameraman uses and I think I found a lot of confidence with the way Kamalji went through with his shoot,” she said.