Because of her co-star Amitabh Bachchan's sudden illness, Rani Mukherjee is unexpectedly without work for at least the next couple of months.
"I've only two films on hand. Karan Johar's Kabhi Alvidaa Na Kehna and Ravi Chopra's Babul . And both have Amit Uncle with me in the lead. So until he gets completely well I've no choice but to take it easy," says Rani, sounding none too unhappy about the impromptu layoff.
"Not at all. I now have the chance to do all things that I've been putting off for so long,"
….Like collecting awards for her performance in Black? It's Sunday. And she has just flagged off the Mumbai Marathon with Abhishek Bachchan .
"I normally don't get Sundays off. But now I've some Sundays ahead to catch up on sleep and take care of several pending obligations ….until Amit Uncle is ready to shoot. I had earlier planned to take April–May off.
"Now I guess this is my holiday. I'll take the time to do up my house, meeting people, rehearsing for my shows, listening to scripts. In fact my plans of a holiday have gone for a toss. I'm more over-worked than ever before. So even when I'm not working, I'm working. I'm trying to finish all the pending work as soon as possible."
Rani has bought a new house for herself in Juhu. "It will take at least take at least a year to be completed."
About the awards, why does Rani always wear a sari to them? "For some reason I'm very comfortable in them. Everyone says I should not dress up like that. But my fans on the e-mail seem to love my saris. So why shouldn't I?"
2006 looks great for Rani. "I'm waiting for my buddy Karan Johar's film to release. Then there'll be Babul. Both are equally challenging .It's going to be coming much later. So this would be a quieter year on my career front than 2005. I'm waiting for Amit Uncle to start working. As soon as he gets back I'll be back to work."
Rani had a ball shooting with Preity for Karan Johar's film. "I think to a large extent, Even Kabhia Alvidaa Na Kehna is in some ways a woman-centric film. I think women in the audience would have no trouble relating to mine and Preity's character in the film. Preity is a lovely co-star. All our films together have worked. She keeps joking that she'll put me in her wedding picture to ensure her marriage would be a super-hit."
After a hearty laugh Rani cuts down all talk of differences with Preity. "People just want to create differences between us. Why should two actresses always have problems between them? I've never had any problems with any of my co-stars…When Ness Wadia came to NY he was bewildered about the rumours that Preity and I don't get along.
"We were so comfortable together. We aren't kids to be fighting. And with Karan Johar being the most affable director around the atmosphere on the sets, there can be no ill will. So I don't know why people in Mumbai were spreading rumours of fights in NY. For the first time Karan has ventured into a film without his Dad. The least people can do is to not stress him out with all these rumours."
She loved her long stint in New York. "I enjoyed being away from Mumbai. I'd shoot, then crash out in the hotel. I went for long walks, shopping, to church….I loved being by myself. I was the only actor who was in New York for the entire three months while other members of the cast came and went."
In the meanwhile Rani isn't the least inclined to sign anything new. "There're lots of roles, yes. But nothing that excites me. They're all woman-oriented roles. But not exciting enough to sign another film. I think Saathiya taught me to choose wisely," she chuckles. "Now I put in my heart and soul into every role I do. Post- Black, people's expectations are scary."
Back home Rani is looking forward to being an aunt. "My bhaiyya and bhabhi are expecting their first child. And that's the biggest excitement in my life right now. I'm dying for the baby to come…Till I don't have my own I'll pamper my brother's baby."
Love is not around the corner for Rani. "I just hope when it happens it doesn't hamper my work. Right now I'm too much into my working space. I get so passionate about anything I do, I don't know how I can balance a personal with a professional life.
"I'm very happy with life. Last year my dad was unwell. That has passed. This year, the entire family is looking forward to the first child in the family since me. I suspect I'll be a slave to the baby. The family will finally stop babying me."