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Saturday, October 13, 2007

'Sex workers pose no threat'

Rani Mukherjee is the personification of a pint-sized powerhouse. From the time Rani Mukherjee naughtily nibbled on Aamir Khan’s ear in Ghulam and swept Shah Rukh Khan and the nation off their collective feet in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai to her recent avatar as the scarlet woman in Karan Johar’s paean to adultery Kabhie Alvida na Kehna, she has been the cynosure of all eyes.

And now excitement has reached fever pitch with Pradeep Sarkar’s Laaga Chunari Mein Daag where she plays Natasha.

Sounding tired, recovering from being ill, Rani gamely says in her husky voice, “The film, as you know, is the journey of a woman from Benares to Mumbai. It is the story of a family and an incident, which causes my character to make certain choices.

The basic premise is the pressures a girl in India goes through if she is the first born. There is the constant angst to prove to herself, family and society that she can be the son.”

It is this angst that drives the character to take up the world’s oldest profession but Rani does not fear censure from the ever vigilant moral police. “I don’t think there would be any controversy.

The woman has been portrayed with love and affection. This is a free country and everyone should be respected for the job they do. It is not as if sex workers are killing or stealing. They are not a threat to national security!”

Rani, however, is categorical in her denouncement of human trafficking. “That is definitely wrong as women are exploited and forced into it.

This film is about a woman’s strength and the choices she makes. Sex workers are part of society; we cannot close our eyes to that. And finally, as an actor, I like to do different roles and this is one more.”

Rani, who will turn 30 in March, is quick to clarify that Laaga… is not another tale of a fallen woman. “That is one part of the film. At the core is the emotional bonding between sisters and familial relationships.”

Talking about bonding, ask Rani about the experience of working with Konkona Sen Sharma, who plays her sister in the film, and she laughs saying: “It was wonderful working with Konkona. You know we Bongs don’t really need a reason to bond.”

Open to Hollywood offers, Rani, who could not make it for Mira Nair’s The Namesake due to date problems, says: “As an actor I will do an exciting role in whichever country. But I will not work in a Hollywood production just for the sake of working in the West. The role has to interest me.”

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