Not to endorse a cause, product or a film, this time Rani Mukerji made time from her busy schedule to visit her school, Maneckji Cooper, for its annual day function. The last time the actor set her foot in the building was in 1993 on the day she passed out of class 10.
"Not everyone lands an opportunity to return to their school as chief guests. I felt blessed. I met a couple of my teachers again. A few, I found out, had passed away. I went around the classrooms and the corridors," Rani reminisces.
"I spent my most stress-free days there. Everyone owes the foundation of their lives to their schools. I’m not any different. I have to thank my geography teacher Mrs Vakil. It’s because of what she taught me and the way she taught it, that I’m good with every place I travel to."
The actor’s knee-high niece, whom she lovingly calls Mishti, has just started attending school. Does she find a striking difference in the textbooks she read and the kind her niece carries to her school?
"She is very young. As the years go by, the difference between the process she goes through and the one I went through, will get clear," Rani points out.
“But I’m sure that kids today don’t have a bag as heavy as ours. Schools seem more vigilant about that. I still remember I had four thick textbooks for both, math and science. They made the bag really heavy.”
But for Shiksha, a project that aims to build schools all over the country for underprivileged kids, Rani has only lent her name. On being asked why, she argues, “The project is well-funded by a leading corporate house. I don’t think they need money from me. Whenever and wherever they need me to be present, I’ll be there. But we’re not involving money in this. Also, I don’t think I should go to every place where the project builds a school, because the media’s focus would shift to me instead of the cause.”