Bollywood actress Rani Mukerji hits a staggering career milestone this year and she cannot think of a better film than ‘Bunty Aur Babli 2’ to mark that landmark moment.
“I’m actually completing my 25 years in the industry with such a wonderful character that I absolutely love and adore. I want to be friends with this mad character. She’s completely crazy and she brings out the best in me,” said Mukerji in an interview with Gulf News.
Mukerji, one of Bollywood’s most versatile and vivacious talents, is talking about Vimmi aka Babli, the beloved con-woman with the most flamboyant taste in clothes and attitude. On November 18, the second instalment of the hit 2005 comedy, produced by her husband Aditya Chopra’s company Yash Raj Films, will hit the UAE screens and it took them more than a decade to come up with a worthy sequel.
“It’s a film that’s close to people’s hearts and they are emotional about it. This is precisely the reason why the sequel took so long. It has taken us 15 years to get us back on track. I am just hoping that our audiences will give it as much love as they gave us during the first part,” said Mukerji.
While the original featured Abhishek Bachchan as her husband, actor Saif Ali Khan has stepped into his shoes in the second part, which is directed by Varun V Sharma. The film begins with this retired con-couple leading a soulless, suburbian existence but are yanked back into the world of scamming and non-violent crimes when a young con-couple, played by Siddhant Chaturvedi and Sharvari Wagh, begin swindling people using their street credits and their notorious label.
Like most sequels, the second part is more ambitious and larger in scale. If the original film showed the endearing Bunty and Babli sell the Taj Mahal to a wealthy and thick tourist, the sequel — shot partly in Abu Dhabi — would have definitely upped their game.
“[The] Abu Dhabi shot gave this film a grand feel,” said Mukherji, talking about their UAE experience. Excerpts from our chat with the actress about her new film, surviving the COVID-19 pandemic, and what’s in store for her in Bollywood. Here’s Mukerji’s take on ...
Filming in Abu Dhabi:
“It was just grandness and luxury at its best. The hospitality of the Emirates Palace, where we shot and stayed, was simply fantastic. We shot in and around Abu Dhabi as well and we were looked after so well. It was one of the best shoots that we had.
“The scenes shot in Abu Dhabi helped our film achieve this sense of grandiose and beauty. Plus, it was a shoot that happened just before the pandemic hit the globe. We came back to India after the shoot on February 25 and then the fear of travelling set in. We hadn’t finished filming the whole movie, but luckily our portions set in Abu Dhabi were finished and we were really, really lucky … After Mumbai, I love Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I am suddenly missing it there. I would have loved to show the film to you all first.”
‘Bunty Aur Babli 2’ being free of gore, filth, or violence:
“This is a film for all age-groups and trust me there are seldom movies made that you can watch with your children because you never know what will be shown in a film. This is truly your quintessential family entertainer that you can sit with your grandparents, your husband, and your children. It’s a clean comedy and entertainer. Plus, it’s hilarious because it’s situational comedy that will appeal to every generation of viewers.
Making con and greed look palatable:
“This is exactly what ‘Bunty Aur Babli’ franchise stands for. If you saw the first instalment, it was about two youngsters who tried to make their dreams come true by going through the right channels. But they get completely disillusioned by the system, perhaps due to the corruption in it. So, they decide to con the people gave them a hard time and in the bargain they have fun doing it.
“The journey of Bunty and Babli begins with them conning the system and having fun while they are at it. In its heart, it’s a humane story about people who want to make it in life and it’s also about human relationships, the right and wrong. It’s is also about having fun and it’s also about a reminder about not taking each other or the cons seriously. Remember, we are that couple who tried to sell the Taj Mahal. It’s just silly and stupid. You have to see the film in that zone.”
The second instalment taking off from where the original left off:
“‘Bunty Aur Babli 2’ will have much more than that. The way it has been written has a whole newness to it where a new-age couple is against us old-timers. The clash between the youngsters and the old-timers is the charm and the beauty of the film. The youngsters will relate to the young couple and the middle-aged viewers will relate to my old-timer Jodi [couple]. This film has the right amount of emotion, pizzazz, jazz, drama and OTT as in over-the-top performance. It’s full-on drama and masti.”
Titular characters ageing well:
“Saif’s character is going through a mid-life crisis, but I play someone like Vimmi who can never have any crisis at any age in her life … And perhaps, that’s what makes her unique and real. In today’s times, we like to embrace people who are unique. Vimmi was her own person and as an individual she believed in doing what she thought was fabulous. Plus, she made people believe that it was fab.
“Many a times, there are people who do things while they self-doubt and it doesn’t sit well with the people who are watching you. Vimmi exuded that kind of brazen confidence to carry off anything — including a transparent salwar with utmost confidence. Even in this film, Vimmi has not forgotten who she was. She’s just so real and you feel for her emotionally. You laugh with her and not just at her … And I believe humour is what keeps us young, right?”
‘Bunty Aur Babli’ ageing well despite releasing more than a decade ago:
“This is precisely the reason why the sequel took so long. It’s a film that’s close to people’s hearts and they are emotional about it. It has taken us 15 years to get us back on track. I am just hoping that our audiences will give it as much love as they gave us during the first part. And I hope we can keep our audiences in splits because it has been nearly two years since we have seen a proper Bollywood entertainer.”
Opting for a theatrical release worldwide:
“It’s a call that my husband has taken and all kudos to him. All the praise should go to him because he has single-handedly stood his ground and said: ‘All my films will only release in theatres.’ It’s because of producers like him that the age of films and the life of films will continue.”
Working with younger talents:
“I have learned a lot from all of them because my journey as an actor has been filled with such learnings. Your learning should never stop for any artist. Today’s youngsters come in with confidence and have their own way of thinking while approaching a particular character. The younger actor brought in a lot of newness and freshness to this film and I thank them for that. It’s just wonderful to have good actors around because you can then feed off their energy and it makes you perform better.”
Don’t Miss It!
‘Bunty Aur Babli 2’ is out in the UAE cinemas on November 18