Rani Mukerji is back with her latest film, Aiyyaa. Bollywood Hungama’s Nikhil Ramsubra-maniam caught up with the actress par excellence who revealed more about her character in the film, Meenakshi Deshpande, her deadly dance numbers and the entire filming experience

The promos of Aiyyaa have generated a great response; did you think it would connect with audiences so much?

I always sign a film thinking it’s going to have a connection with the audience and Aiyyaa was also one such film.

The general perception is Rani is looking fresh, glowing like never before, and seems to be having a lot of fun. Is this the most fun you have had in movies in recent times?

I think so, because Meenakshi Deshpande is so lovely, so endearing and so simple. The minute she opens her mouth, she says something so funny and cute that I, being a girl, am in love with her. When I read the character of Meenakshi, I fell in love with her instantly.

Where do you find girls who actually stand in front of the mirror and praise themselves?

She praises herself and loves herself, which is what I love about her. She has no qualms in saying she is her favourite and loves herself.

You are paired opposite Prithviraj. Had you seen his South Indian films prior to this?

No, I had not. In fact, Aiyyaa is my gateway to Malayalam films, or understanding who the Malayalam actors are. Thankfully Sachin Kundalkar (director) and Anurag Kashyap (producer) are more clued up on regional cinema and they cast Prithviraj.

Prithviraj is a good-looking man – tall, dark, handsome, a chiselled torso – yet Meenakshi falls for his smell. Tell us more.

Yes, I think his looks just come as a bonus (laughs). It’s his smell that first attracts her to him and it’s a bonus that he is good-looking.

You’ve worked with the best directors in your illustrious career. What was it like to work with a rank newcomer like Sachin Kundalkar?

I love working with new directors, especially directors who have seen my body of work and want to experiment and make me look different on screen. As an actor, I’ve always wanted to redefine myself and surprise my audience with something new each time.

When I work with new directors, it gives me a chance to be different because they see me differently. New directors have a different perception and want to flip my image in a never-seen-before way. That’s what Sachin has done, too, with the character of Meenakshi.

Did he give you tips on getting the Marathi lingo and dialect correct considering he is a Maharashtrian himself?

Yes, absolutely, he was my tutor for everything.

Tell us a about your styling. You are mostly seen in typical Maharashtrian attire.

Puneet has done my styling and Sachin guided him. He has a lot of experience of how Maharashtrian people wear their sarees. Even the pleats have to be the Maharashtrian way. In terms of the colour palette, I said Meenakshi should wear bright colours because the character is very bright. My look in the songs, however, is by Neeta Lulla.

Of the film’s songs, you seem to have done a South Indian song (Dreamum Wakeupum), a Mahrashtrian one (Sava Dollar) and a belly-dancing number (Aga Bai Halla). Which did you enjoy the most and which was the toughest?

I enjoyed belly dancing the most because I’ve never done it before. I used to always watch Shakira’s videos and wonder how she did those moves. It seemed humanly impossible to just move your belly and no other part of your body. Luckily Aiyyaa came along and Vaibhavi Merchant suggested I do belly dancing and I was game. It’s one of the most memorable songs of my career.

How do you look back on working in an Anurag Kashyap production?

How involved was he during the production? He wasn’t really that involved during the filming because it was Sachin’s production house that was in charge of shooting the film. Anurag was just there as a guiding factor and he came in only at crucial times when important decisions had to be made. Anurag’s way of producing films is different. He gives his directors complete liberty to do what they like because, being a director himself, he thinks how he would like to direct a film produced by someone else. So as a producer he gives the same freedom and independence to his directors.

You’ve had films in the past few years – Dil Bole Hadippaor Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic, No One Killed Jessica – yet people say this looks like Rani’s come-back film. Why is that?

I guess they miss me so much they want to see me immediately. I take it as a compliment. – bollywoodhungama.com