15 years of Veer Zaara: Seeing an old Shah Rukh Khan was awkward, says Rani Mukerji
Veer-Zaara, a cross border romance, is a classic Yash Chopra romantic fare. And one big take away from the film was Rani Mukerji’s show stealing turn as a rookie lawyer, who is hellbent on proving the innocence of a jailed ex-squadron leader from India in a Lahore jail to the world. How her character fights his cause and re-unites him and his Pakistani lover after 22 years forms the crux of the film.
The role and the film are very close to Rani’s heart, especially because of the director, her favourite Yash uncle, also her father-in-law.
“Working with the legendary Yash Chopra - just to shoot with him was an experience by itself because when you shoot with a master like him you realise how great he is. His greatness was that he would never see the monitor! He was always behind the cameraman watching us and okaying the shots which was very new for me because the directors who I had worked with, used to be just very close to the monitor because that became the new-age thing to do,” shares Rani as she takes a walk down the memory lane.
Veer-Zaara was memorable on many accounts. It was Yash Chopra’s directorial comeback film after Dil To Pagal Hai in 1997, it brought actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Rani besides Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Manoj Bajpai Divya Dutta, Kirron Kher, Anupam Kher and Boman Irani in crucial cameos. The music album featured a number of unused Madan Mohan melodies which exuded nostalgia, including Main Yahaan Hoon.
Further reminiscing her working with the late filmmaker, then 41-year-old adds, “When I shot with Yash uncle, I realised that how they (such iconic filmmakers) must be actually taking out work from actors because they were constantly looking at us standing next to the camera, calling for the shots. That was something really, incredibly special. He was the only director who wanted to feed us all the time to make sure we were happy and laughing!”
While Rani had worked with Shah Rukh and romanced each other on screen in films such as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) and Chalte Chalte (2003), but Veer-Zaara was the first time that they weren’t playing the romantic lead.
“I remember was seeing Shah Rukh in the old avatar which was really awkward for both of us. Before this I had always romanced him and in this film he had to look at me with the imagery of a daughter and I had to look at him as a father figure, which was a bit tough. Romancing Shah Rukh is much easier,” she shares.
Rani says that the camaraderie that they shared made them burst out at laughing a lot of times much to the annoyance of Aditya Chopra and Yash Chopra. “Because they would be like you got to concentrate on the shot and Shah Rukh and me would start our giggle fit and it would never stop. I also remember and of course, my outdoor with Yash uncle in Punjab. Punjab being his place, where he was born and brought up, the shooting experience was just incredible,” she quips.
And another aspect that she fondly remembers is how Veer-Zaara’s set was an epic food fest! “There used to chat on the sets like every day, there was aloo paratha and white makkhan - it was a food fest. Veer-Zaara for me I just remember it as a food fest throughout,” she signs off.
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