She has spent more than a decade in the film industry and has portrayed roles of a battered wife and an independent woman with equal ease and expertise. Born to playback singer Krishna Mukherjee and director Ram Mukerji, Rani Mukerji was not new to the world of films.
Born in Mumbai in 1978, Rani Mukerji first appeared on the silver screen at the age of fourteen years in the supporting role in her father’s Bengali film Biyer Phool (1992).
Coming from a family with Bollywood background, Mukerji learnt Odissi dance during her school days and also attended acting classes.
Rani’s aunt Debashree Roy is a Bengali actress and who doesn't know her famous paternal cousin Kajol. Mukerji’s cousin Ayan Mukerji is a scriptwriter and film director.
Rani next appeared in Salim Akhtar’s Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat in 1997 but the film proved a dud at the box office. This discouraged her father and the founder of Filmalaya Studios Ram Mukerji. Ram Mukerji had earlier rejected a film offer from Salim Akhtar saying that his daughter was too young for films. After the film flopped, Rani returned to her college and completed her graduation in Home Science. Rani has also attended Roshan Taneja’s acting classes.
Life changed for Rani Mukerji in 1998 when Karan Johar’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai came her way. Not only did she bag her first Filmfare Award for the film for Best Supporting Actress, her role and style also became the fashion for youngsters of the era. Rani worked with some of the best known faces in Bollywood in the film – Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Anupam Kher, Archana Puran Singh and Farida Jalal.
The same year saw Rani Mukerji starring opposite one more Khan - Aamir Khan. Mukerji’s husky voice and dusky beauty was a hit already and with Aati Kya Khandala song in Ghulam, Rani Mukherji was now a well-recognized face. Vikram Bhatt’s Ghulam proved a box office hit.
There was no looking back for Rani Mukerji after this. She was seen in several movies such as Mehendi (1998), Hello Brother (1999) and Badal (2000). Badal proved to be a commercial hit. She also made a special appearance in Aamir Khan-starrer Mann (1999) for a song (Kali Naagin Ke Jaise Zulfein).
Soon came Kamal Haasan’s Heyy Ram (2000) where she played Haasan’s wife. The movie earned Rani critical acclaim and was also Indian entry to the Oscars that year.
The actor continued featuring in films like Bichhoo (2000), Hadd Kar Di Aapne (2000), Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega (2000), Kahin Pyaar Na Ho Jaaye (2000), Chori Chori Chupke Chupke (2001), Bas Itna Sa Khwab Hai (2001) and Nayak – The Real hero (2001).
She may not have too many awards in her kitty but she has worked with the best known actors and production houses. 2002 proved to be an important year for Rani’s career. First, she her first Yash Chopra film was released Mujhse Dosti Karoge and later, Shaad Ali’s Saathiya brought critical acclaim and Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress for Mukerji. Next year, Rani Mukerji then appeared in Chalte Chalte, Calcutta Mail and LOC Kargil. None of these movies did much, critically or commercially.
Kunal Kohli’s Hum Tum won Filmfare award for Best Actress for Rani in 2004. The same year also brought Filmfare award for Best Supporting Actress with Mani Ratnam’s Yuva. Another Yash Chopra film was on her way for Rani by this time. She essayed the role of a lawyer in Veer Zaara. The role won her rave reviews from the critics and also IIFA award for Best Supporting Actress.
Rani also worked with Amitabh Bachchan in critically acclaimed Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black (2005). Reportedly, Rani Mukerji studied sign language at Helen Keller Institute, Mumbai for the movie. The movie was one of the best of Rani’s. The film received two National Film Awards and eleven Filmfare Awards. Rani made her second Oscars entry (India’s entry to Oscars that year) with Paheli (2005). Her film, Bunty Aur Babli (2005) was a commercial hit.
Rani Mukerji was named number one on Rediff’s Top Bollywood Female Stars for three consecutive years (2004-06). She also featured on Filmfare Ten Most Powerful Names of Bollywood for three years. In 2005, she was on tenth slot while in 2006, she upgraded to the eight rank. Next year, she was the fifth name on that list.
Rani soon got another Karan Johar film, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006), where she played an orphan who feels indebted to the family that looked after her and ends up marrying their son. However, Maya, Rani’s character in the film, ends up falling in love with another guy. The movie also got her the third consecutive IIFA award for Best Actress. The film grossed over Rs. 100 crore worldwide. Rani also played a prostitute in Mangal Pandey - The Rising (2005).
In 2009, Rani also appeared on the small screen with Sony TV’s Dance Premier League where she was a contestant.
Rani has also been known for her close friendship with Chopras. Tabloids often report that she is dating Aditya Chopra, though the actress has so far not committed either way.
For next few years, Rani appeared mostly in Yash Raj Films’ productions. After Baabul (2007), Ta Ra Rum Pum (2007), Laaga Chunari Mein Daag (2007), Saawariya (2007), Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic (2008), Dil Bole Hadippa (2009) came along but damp squibs all. She also appeared in small cameos in movies like Om Shanti Om (2007) and Luck By Chance (2009).
While shooting for Laaga Chunari Mein Daag in Varanasi, Mukerji’s fans crowded the sets and were beaten up by her security personnel. Rani received flak for not controlling her security guards. The actress later apologized.
The US Embassy honoured Rani Mukerji in 2013 on the day of Barack Obama's inauguration into his office.
In 2011, Rani Mukerji played a journalist in No one Killed Jessica, a movie based on the real-life Jesscia Lall’s murder case. She won the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress award for her role as well as critical acclaim. Next year, she featured in Talaash: The Answer Lies Within (2012) where she played the role of a grieving mother with ease. She also played the lead role in Aiyya but received flak from both audiences and critics.
She is set to feature in Karan Johar’s story in Bombay Talkies. Rani will also make a guest appearance in Shah Rukh Khan-Deepika Padukone-starrer Chennai Express.