It’s not often that a sibling gets to direct his or her sister or brother.
In Bollywood while Zoya Akhtar has directed her brother Farhan Akhtar in a few movies and Sohail and Arbaaz Khan have directed Salman Khan too, a director-actor duo is rare. But Rani Mukerji Chopra’s brother Raja Ram Mukerji, who is all set to make his directorial debut next year, plans to join the list. He is getting a script ready for his sister, which he will pitch to her when complete.
Raja Ram has made quite a name for himself in the short film section. After his short film, Sab Theek Hai, he shot two more shorts, Beti (starring Neetu Chandra) and Main Aur Papa (starring Abhimanyu Singh). Both these films are doing their rounds in various international film festivals all over the globe. They have received official selections in most of the international film festivals, including the Eurasia International Monthly Film Festival 2018, Los Angeles Cine Fest, AAB International Film Festival 2018 and are the official selection for Best Of India Short Film Festival 2018 and MEDFF 2017-18 among others.
His short films are winning accolades on the festival front and Beti revolves around the girl child. Rani too loves doing women-centric films. When is he planning to work with his sister? Raja Ram says, “Right now I am looking for a strong, women-centric story for Rani. I want to direct some more interesting short films this year and then next year I plan to direct a feature film.”
Considering he has one of the top actresses at home, he has never approached her to act in any of his shorts. Raja says, “The reason why I have never approached Rani in one of my shorts is I didn’t know whether she would want to do a short or not. If I want to work with Rani I would go to her for a feature film and why not? She is one of the best actresses we have today.”
Interestingly, few know that Hichki, Rani’s latest release had the brother-sister duo working together for the first time. Raja says, “While I direct shorts, my priority has always been YRF and handling the production here. I was one of the senior executives and I am so happy that the film has done so well. It’s the first film that Rani and I have worked together in and it was a fantastic experience. You feel good when you have worked on something and it does well.”
Raja makes strong women-centric shorts. Maybe his inspiration comes from his mother Krishna, sister Rani and wife Jyoti inspiration? “Yes of course. They are there always to inspire me. Jyoti has given me some good ideas for my next one and I usually bounce some concepts off her. It’s good to take a second opinion and my mother, Rani and Jyoti are my biggest critics. They tell me the truth and how to make the script better.”
Talking about his shorts, Beti and Main Aur Papa, Raja Ram says, “Beti is based on saving girl child and how one should protect, educate and take care of our daughters because they are equally important as boys. It’s about female foeticide where Neetu Chandra plays a character of a gynaecologist who has a daughter herself. Beti is about how she inspires another girl to give birth to a girl child and not get scared.”
Main Aur Papa was made when Raja Ram was missing his father Ram Mukerji. “It is based on a son/father relationship I was missing my father a lot so I have dedicated this film to my father. Abhimanyu Singh plays the character of a son – a very positive, dutiful and lovable character for the first time. I plan to make one more short, Main Kaun Hoon – about a girl who searches for her own identity and how she breaks free, and keeping her values and responsibilities intact, finds her own identity. I will release them officially later in June, July and August.”