Shashi a couple days ago, Rani today (in India, another 10 hours in America)! Are they related? I’m sure they are, probably through some obscure marriage somewhere. If nothing else they are related through Ranbir and Ayan’s friendship, which is as close as a marriage. Anyway, Happy Birthday Rani! I couldn’t manage a full 79 reasons to love Shashi, but I can come up with a whole 39 reasons to love you!
1.1. I love you because you were born into a film family, but a lesser branch, enough that you entered films with plenty of background knowledge but at the same time having little real power.
2. I love you because you entered films sidewise, through a Bengali film directed by your father, then a small role in an art film, and finally two tiny roles in mainstream Hindi films that turned into blockbusters.
3. I love you because you were the only one willing to take the “Tina” role in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai after Karan had been turned down by everyone else.
4. I love you because you did a fabulous job in Ghulam, making your mark despite having your dialogue dubbed because your voice was deemed “too deep”.
5. I love you because you followed up those two small roles with an even smaller one, appearing for one song in Mann and creating a bright spot just with that 3 minute appearance.
6. I love you because your first two mainstream films both had groundbreaking plots and casts and most of all songs!
7. That song is fun, but this one lets you really show how you can already play to the camera!
8. This one let you be all sexy.
9. This one let you be just plain fun.
10. And then you got to do your first real “club” song!
11. I love you because you hit the ground running! Following up your two breakthrough small roles, with parts in everything from a Salman Khan comedy to a Bobby Deol action film.
12. I love you because you were doing all of this at a very young age (22-23), but still older than other actresses. Dealing with the combined handicaps of youthful insecurity and at the same time being seen as starting “late”.
13. I love you because you also had time to take a break and do an art film, Hey Ram, in the middle of all these mainstream timepass hits.
14. I love you because you also took the time to make a friendly appearance in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham as a favor to the director who gave you your first real break.
15. I love you because a lot of these films you cranked out between 1998 and 2002 are really really fun!
16. Badal has one of my favorite songs.
17. So does Kahin Pyaar Na Ho Jaye.
18. And of course Har Dil Jo Pyar Karege.
19. Chori Chori Chupke Chupke was probably your biggest hit of this period, again shared with Preity, but you got this one song all to yourself at least.
20. And this era came to an end with Saathiya, announcing you as an actress with mainstream popularity and stunning acting abilities who deserved only the best scripts.
21. I love you because you were bold in your career after Saathiya, and reaped the rewards and the blame for that.
22. I love you because you dropped to one or fewer films a year at the same time as Aamir Khan, but you did it without the security of being “Aamir Khan” and knowing you always had superstardom to fall back on.
23. I love you because the hits you did have, were clearly due to your abilities as much as the heroes, no more “shining in small roles”.
24. I love you because you were still willing to take the smaller part if the script warranted it like in Yuva.
25. I love you because this second career period reached it’s peak with Black, the film where you took on a part opposite Amitabh Bachchan and walked away with the movie.
26. I love you because you always knew that a film doesn’t have to be “heavy” to be worthwhile. Along with Black and Veer-Zaara and Mangal Panday and Kabhi Alveda Na Kehna, you also made Bunty Aur Babli.
27. And Hum-Tum.
28. And Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic.
29. And even your “heavier” films still had some fun! Like Baabul with this song.
30. And Laaga Chunari Main Daag with this one.
31. I love you because you put a grand finale on this era with No One Killed Jessica. Coming out a full 2 years after your last film and declaring that you had moved past playing the “star” game and were fully into just being an actress.
32. I love you because your second movie in this “actress” realm was Aiyyaa, a film so odd and with a central role so difficult, that only you would have been both brave enough and talented enough to make it happen.
33. I love you because you then reunited with one of your very first co-stars and a true “actor’s actor” in Talaash, proving that you are still able to hold the screen opposite him, that while he had grown in abilities in the past 15 years, you were no less.
34. I love you because you released on last film, the most offbeat and uncommercial of them all, the gritty cop drama Mardaani, and then quietly got married with no fanfare or famous guests (well, besides Karan Johar. But who wouldn’t have Karan at their wedding if they could?)
35. I love you because you similarly quietly had your first child and are now looking to pick up your career where it dropped off. Not in “heroine” roles, but in films that interest you as an actress and which are worthy of your talents.
36. Really, NO ONE else could have taken that role in No One Killed Jessica! The only pity is that you and Vidya had so few scenes together and we didn’t get to see the two greatest actresses in Hindi cinema onscreen at the same time.
37. And at the same time, no one else could have taken the heroine from Aiyyaa and made her into a living breathing thing instead of an impossible character of a filmmad girl.
38. And then there’s Talaash. With what could be a bland and underwritten character, who you made stand out all on her own.
39. And then finally there’s Mardaani. I was going to end with one of your best songs from the past, but looking at this, although Mardaani may not have been your most popular film, this is a really great song to watch in your honor on your birthday.