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When Shammi Kapoor loved Rani Mukerji's performance in Yuva (2004) song 'Kabhi Neem Neem'

Rani Mukerji shares some fond memories of Yuva on the sixteenth anniversary of the release of the film that brought her a Filmfare award.

Rani Mukerji and Abhishek Bachchan in Yuva

Our Correspondent

Mani Ratnam's cult classic Yuva (2004) completed 16 years today. The film about student politics had an ensemble cast that included Ajay Devgn, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Esha Deol and Rani Mukerji. The film was a critical success and earned five Filmfare awards, including the Best Supporting Actress trophy for Rani Mukerji.

Mukerji's performance in Yuva is ranked by most cine watchers among her best. She played the vulnerable yet feisty Sashi Biswas who dotes on her husband Lallan Singh (Bachchan) despite his abusive behaviour.

On the film's 16th anniversary, Rani Mukerji said her fondest memory of Yuva was Shammi Kapoor praising her performance in the song 'Kabhi Neem Neem'. "One of my favourite songs from the film is 'Kabhi Neem Neem, Kabhi Shahad Shahad', and it’s still one of my favourites!" she said. "Just the way Madhushree sang it, just the way AR Rahman composed it and, of course, the way Brinda the choreographer and Mani Ratnam sir picturized the song and Ravi K Chandran shot it was magical.

"I distinctly remember, one of my all-time favourite actors, Shammiji, calling me and telling me about the song! He told me how much he loved my performance, especially the part where I am sitting in a chair and reacting to Abhishek’s dance,” said Mukerji. “I was very close to him and have always been a huge fan of his work, especially his songs, and for him to call and compliment me for the song was even more special and meant a lot!”

The actress also spoke about Mani Ratnam’s style of direction. “I have very fond memories as it was my first film under Mani sir's direction," she said. "It was an absolute pleasure to work with him. His way of interacting with actors, I thought, was really, really unique. I think working with a director like Mani sir helped me better my skills.

"It was so fascinating because of the way he used to direct actors with one sentence — he always said ‘please don’t act’. That has stayed with me till today. The fact that Mani sir manages to get natural performances from his actors is because he works towards making them believe they are those characters. I think that’s something really, really wonderful.”

Mukerji also reminisced about shooting in Kolkata. “I think of my memories of shooting in Calcutta and it was very special! Loved shooting in Calcutta as it feels like home being in the City of Joy,.from the food to my grandma’s house there, it felt so much like home.”

A still from the song 'Dol Dol' from Yuva

The actress revealed that the portions showing the interiors of her Kolkata house were actually shot in Chennai! “I remember eating all the South Indian delicacies during the shooting of Yuva, which was amazing!" she said.

Rani Mukerji had a brilliant 2004, winning the Best Actress award for Yuva as well as Hum Tum. “The common link between Yuva and Hum Tum was that particular year I won awards for both films!" she said. "It was very gratifying and nice to know that both films and performances were appreciated by the critics as well as audiences.”