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Will continue working and battling sexist stereotypes: Rani Mukerji pens letter for fans on birthday

On her 40th birthday today (born on 21 March 1978), the Hichki actress wrote a note promising to keep 'pushing the envelope'.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Shriram Iyengar

With Hichki ready to be released this week, Rani Mukerji has been making appearances on various media interviews. In Siddharth P Malhotra's Hichki, the usually reticent actress has taken on the role of a Tourette's Syndrome affected teacher trying to break through an education system that is reserved for the privileged. Incidentally, the actress is also celebrating her 40th birthday today (she was born on 21 March 1978), and penned a long, pensive note to her fans and followers in the industry.

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Thanking all her directors, the actress said, "I truly feel blessed. I thank all the filmmakers who have trusted me with their characters. Your characters, your films, became my identity."

Writing about her initial struggles in the industry, and the persistent 'hichki' she faced, Mukerji said, "Actresses have to prove themselves everyday." From being judged for her raspy voice to the secretive marriage to producer Aditya Chopra, and returning to films after motherhood, the actress has been working through several industry taboos.

Suggesting that the industry is riddled with these beliefs about female actresses having shorter shelf lives, and that married actresses have 'less equity', Mukerji wrote, "We have to be the best and yet we are thought to be extremely dispensable. On my birthday, I cannot skirt these massive hichkis that my fellow actresses and I have faced and will face every day."

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While she has always been a reluctant speaker, Mukerji seems to have turned a new leaf on her 40th birthday, promising to take on these challenges. "I will continue working and battling these stereotypes with all my fellow, stunning, beautiful, kind and talented actresses and hope to see our society and film industry mature further," she added.

The actress signed off on a positive note with "I want to see many more victories for all of us. It's about time. I will be back soon — to try and entertain you, to push the envelope again."

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While it is admirable that the actress has finally joined the leading chorus of female actresses for parity in the film industry, the statement does come as a contrast. In a recent interview with Anupama Chopra, Mukerji had taken a very different stance.

On being asked by the host about the growing voices outlining the inherent sexism in the industry, Mukerji said that she never really focussed on those issues in her career.

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Clarifying that this was a personal opinion, Mukerji had said, "So, for me to have come from a place where I didn't want to be an actor, and then being an actor, and falling in love with my craft, and being in the industry for so many years, I never have really thought about these things (bigger rooms, pay parity). These things have never really bothered me," adding, "I don't see life as...we are here to debate, to fight, and compare. There is too much to life to do these things, you know."

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Talking of pay parity, she had said, "When there is a time, when things naturally change, things will be good."

Seeing that it is her birthday, it looks like Mukerji is turning a new page in her book.