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Rani's wrong moves

The word is out. The once straight-as-an-arrow actress is messing up big time. Is Rani Mukherji, yesterday's queen of Bollywood, on a collision course? Vajir Singh finds out.

india Updated: Sep 26, 2007 18:47 IST

They came, giggled, waxed eloquent about each other and posed chummily at the recent music release of Saawariya. Now was this for public consumption or have Rani Mukherji and editor-about-to-turn-director Bela Sehgal resolved to let bygones be bygones?
Be that as it may, the news is that Rani will not be in Bela's first film as a director. Why? This is how the story of kabhi dosti kabhi dushmani goes.

Over year ago, there was a fall-out between Rani and Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Reason: differences over the first film to be directed by Bela – Sanjay's sister.

After Black (2005), Rani who had by then worked in 32 films, became arrogantly picky about accepting projects. Clearly, she had chosen to become exclusive to the Yash Raj banner, courtesy good friend Aditya Chopra.

Career best
Even the sternest detractors cannot deny that her performance in Black is Rani's career best. Sanjay Leela Bhansali had done it again. After extracting bravura performances from the Barbie doll-like Aishwarya Rai in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Devdas, he had upped Rani's market value as well as her equity with the critics.

Inevitably, the actress and the director were expected to team up again. It was a given that she would play a significant role in his magnum opus BajiraoMastani whenever it took off.

<b1>But then the director opted for Kareena Kapoor. Conjectures were that this was the result of Rani's differences with Bela. BajiraoMastani is still nowhere on the cards but the director is expected to revive it soon.. unless he prioritises a remake of Satyajit Ray's classic Charulata.

Meanwhile, a momentary truce was achieved between Sanjay and Rani when she agreed to play a cameo in Saawariya.

Shooting music videos
Besides editing, Bela has made a series of music videos, the most prominent ones being those showcasing Adnan Sami, separately with Rani, Ameesha Patel and Bhumika Chawla.

At one point, there was talk that Aishwarya Rai would be in one of the Adnan music videos, but Rani was pencilled in.. courtesy her friendship with Bela and Sanjay .

The gifted Bela has been finalising her first project as a director for nearly three years now.

T-Series is expected to produce it. Almost a year ago, it had been announced that the project would feature Salman Khan with Rani Mukherji in the lead roles.. Since there can be many a slip ‘twixt the cup and lip', Bela hadn't made any official announcements.

The plot thickened. When Bela narrated the script to Rani, the actress hemmed and hawed and suggested another story altogether.


Production calling

She said that her brother Raja and she were extremely keen to get into film production and were gung-ho about a project inspired by Nick Cassavetes' Hollywod film

The Notebook

- an emotional drama about a young man and a woman who meet up at a carnival. Their love survives into their old age, with the man looking after his beloved, suffering from Alzheimer's, right till her dying moment.



Shades of

Black

?


According to a source, Rani was very eager that Abhishek Bachchan should be approached to play the young hero in the desi

Notebook

, while Bachchan Sr could be offered the part of the man in his older avatar. Bela was taken aback by the very suggestion of doing another story .

Sanjay Leela Bhansali was livid. He called up Rani to remind her that Black had been handed to her on a platter.. and that she had no business to be ungrateful to him or to Bela.

A hot argument ensued. Rani made it clear that she was extremely proud of Black, but she was equally grateful to her other directors.

According to an insider, Rani and Sanjay were not on talking terms for months. In the past, Sanjay has had a fall-out with Aishwarya Rai over the casting of BajiraoMastani, but the actress subsequently visited the director on the sets of Black in Film City and patched up.

Today Rani's dates aren't heavily booked. But after all the yes-yes-no-no, the news is that she won't be in Bela's directorial film; it is expected to roll soon.

All set to go
Hesitant to talk about the project, Bhushan Kumar of T-Series insisted that he was "stuck somewhere" and would call back. He did and confirmed that film would start in January next year.

He also confirmed that Adnan Sami will play the leading man but refused to divulge the name of the heroine.

On being asked about the earlier cast of the film - Salman Khan and Rani Mukherji - he responded, "Right now I'm stuck somewhere. I will get back to you after some time." He didn't.

Neither did Bela Sehgal. And so come January another prestigious , project will hit the floors... after being stuck somewhere. Needlessly.