Rani Mukerji’s much-awaited next, Mardaani 2, sees her reprising the role of the fearless and committed Superintendent of Police, Shivani Shivaji Roy. The edge-of-the-seat thriller will see Rani in a race against time to capture a brutal serial rapist who systematically targets women. Mardaani 2 focuses on the rise in violent crimes by juveniles in India and has definitely sparked a conversation on the threat this poses on young girls.
Rani has been promoting the film actively and spreading the message of the film across India. Rani met supercop Archana Tyagi, Additional Director General of Police & Chief of Maharashtra S.R.P.F, to ask her to shed some light on the issue of rise in crimes committed by juveniles. And, we got Rani to conduct an exclusive Q and A between the two women super-achievers as they discussed everything from Archana’s journey to the top, passion for her work and how she achieves work-life balance.
Rani: What made you decide that you will join the police force and serve the people?
A: Archana – See, initially I didn’t have any such plan of joining the police force, let me be very frank with you. I belong to a family of academicians. My parents are both into the teaching department. So, I was also inclined towards teaching and I was a regular lecturer also. That’s a very noble profession but somehow, I was not meant to be a lecturer throughout my life. So I, went to JNU after finishing my Masters in Economics and I did my M. Phil there. JNU is a place where students from all over the country are there. Some are doing research and most of them are preparing for the UPSC examination, through which you get IAS and IPS officers. So I think that keeda… you know… it caught me there. I started preparing for that and in that process even I got exposed to so many things. I had written IAS and IPS because IAS is supposed to be the best service in the country. I got into the police service. Then I actually started thinking ki main police mein kya karungi? And you know … you suddenly realize that maybe I was meant for the service. That’s why I got selected. You know everything, woh boltein hai naa, in universe, comes around to fulfil everything. Even if at the back of your mind….
Rani: Tell me what was your parent’s reaction to this decision?
Archana: Oh…it was very, very interesting. My parents (were) naturally happy and (they) feel very very proud ki bacccha IPS ban gaya. Because we are from the family of academicians. Hamare yahaan koi bhi government service me nahi tha. And my father’s father, my grandfathers were all the farmers. My father is the first one to get out of the village and you know educate himself, and educate all his siblings. My mother was, you know, there was no doubt in her mind that I should join the police force. But father, being a father, and feeling too protective towards you know his firstborn, I am the eldest in the family, so unke dimag me hamare liye sirf teaching job hi tha; you know, which is very safe, secure, you go, 7 baje jao 9 baje wapas aa jao. You know that kind of a thing, and you have the whole day to yourself and do whatever, look after your family and all. So he felt ki may be this job is not so good for my daughter. He was feeling ki yaar yeh to gadbad ho gaya. Can it be changed? This is the father’s reaction, though happy, proud, but feeling very, very protective ki ye kaise karegi? I will tell you what was my father’s concern. One is about the service being a male-dominated service and challenging, unpredictable hours and work all that. He was worried about the…
Archana: Not the safety, shaadi! He was more worried ki abhi matlab who will marry. So, one is that you marry among your batchmates or you know somebody you find in the service is one. And, I said but I have already decided whom to marry and he is not in the services.
Rani: Amazing! This is also very similar to my story. My father was also not willing. That I become an actor.
Archana: Haan! Aise hi parents sab… I feel women are more strong. My mother didn’t have even an inch of this thing ki Archana, think about it.
Rani: She is a true Mardaani!
Archana – Haan, true mardani. And she is also a teacher all the time. But there was another person in my life, who supported in that, that’s my would-be husband at that time. So he was studying with me in JNU and he said tumko is baar police, you will become an IPS officer. He was so confident; I don’t know how and why. He said you will become, don’t worry, tumhara ho jayega.
Rani: So now tell me how do you balance your work life and your family life? Because you just told me that you have a 19-year-old daughter.
A: Archana – Yeah! You should ask her how she… (stops, smiles) so there has always been a trade-off, you have to have a trade-off. You can’t be ki apka career bhi bilkul boom karega and family bhi boom karegi. Aisa toh hoga nahi. But in my case it has been like this that initially, for my daughter was born in 2000. So, she is born after you know after 7 years of service. So jo mera initial period hai, that ASP-ship of Karad, my husband was in Bombay and I was there. And then I came to Thane, I did two full proper tenures without a baby, ok? And towards my end of the tenure in Thane I realized that I must start a family also. So as long I was you know not having a child, so it was all work, work, work all the time, okay. Once you have a child then you must give (time). So I took full 8 months of maternity leave.
Rani: Oh lovely!
Archana – Full 8 months. Whatever the doctor said… that 6-months you should feed the baby only mother’s milk to the tee I followed that. And after 8-months and, and my seniors and my government they have been so supportive. A government job is very good you know in that sense. You have all these facilities and being an IPS officer there are so many other help is there. So, in terms of posting yes, once my daughter was born, I did take a little bit of backseat and with my husband also. We decided like this that when my career is going up you take a backseat and when your career is getting up I will. If it is required within the family, I will take a back seat. So, we have been able to manage it like that so far. And my husband has also sacrificed a lot. He left his foreign postings and came back to India, struggled to you know again establish himself. All that he has done. So I must thank, thank him for that. So it really happens…it’s not a big deal. It happens, it has happened in my case thankfully.
Rani: What do you do to unwind from all that you see and experience as a cop because it’s obviously very very emotional?
Archana: It’s very emotional… Main bahut…shuru shuru toh mein everything I used to take it very personally, okay? I will just give you one example. So, I was DCP in Thane city. So, my first raid was of a beer bar. I caught hold of whole lot of women and unko sabko police station mein hum le ke aa gaye… Vartak Nagar police station was the name of the police station and you won’t believe I was young and you know sitting among those women… Main raat bhar unke sath baithi rahi. You know because once you bring them in next day you have to take them to the court. 11 bajey court khulta hai and they started telling me that you know the stories so some were true, some may not be true. Thoda sa drama.. Thoda bataya…toh bahut hi soft stories bhi thi. Toh main itni affect ho gai ki mujhko…. and I felt ki these women are sitting in the police station, I must stay with them, you know? I should not leave them in the police station. There were 20 women with so many people around. And jab woh court gaye agley din tabhi main police station chhoda, you know?
In Karad (Satara), there were, we have handled and investigated a lot of murder cases and all. So there, there was one case in which the parents both were killed by the boyfriend of the doctor, who was a juvenile… the girl was juvenile, not even adult having an affair… caste, whatever so… they were killed in the field… when they were coming back from the field. Their hands were here, head was there… that kind of horrible case! I personally investigated it. We got the punishment for those two boys. That affected me so much you feel like crying… Initially I used to cry also and feel bad I take things personally and all. But I think over a period of time… I don’t say thick skin but you get used to it and you know, thoda sa takat aati hai. Mentally you become strong. But even today things do affect… You feel bad and you take it in a more matured manner… Maybe you can handle it much better.
Rani: But then are you able to unwind from all the information when you are at home with the family?
A: Archana – No, I never take my office work to (my home). In 25-years of my career, I have not taken a single file back home. That is all about the file and what all goes in my mind, other things also, even (during) 26 /11, I didn’t go home for 7 days… I was here. We had a taxi blast and all that happened. I didn’t go home. Even during Ganpati festivals, when you are in those kinds of postings, you don’t go home for many, many days. You just stay in the office and in your area. I have lot of hobbies. Lot of hobbies, means lot of hobbies.
Archana – You won’t believe! And another thing is I like to learn something new every year. I give myself a year to learn something new, weather in terms of physical activity or some game or something, or whether it is cooking or it is gardening or it is… Whatever it is. And here in this posting, I am getting so much of opportunities.
Rani: So you know cooking?
Archana: I knew cooking but now I want to learn how to make cocktails. So, I want to learn bartending. I don’t drink, but learn something new this is one thing. See, I am not the outdoor type of person originally. When I joined the service… We are all kind of keetabi keeda kind of people… exam, exam and exams.
Rani: What kind of food you like to cook?
Archana: North Indian food. I cook all kinds of food, Chinese, I cook Italian, I cook Indian…
Rani: What’s your favourite dish?
Archana: People say that I make very good chholas! There have been 3 parties on my 25th anniversary on 18. For 2-3 days the parties have been going on and I have been cooking myself. When I call people home, I cook myself. So, everybody was asking me mujhko iski recipe de do, mujhko uski recipe de do. My daughter is in music. I have had no music ears at all. But abhi uske saath thoda sa mazaa aa rahaa hai. I want to paint. Now, yesterday I decided to make painting… My daughter Ananya, she is a musician. I had been to an art studio yesterday to buy some paintings. So, I saw one painting of a girl sitting on a piano and playing. So, my constable insist ki madam, Ananya ke liye, yeh painting le ke chaliye. I said nahin yeh nahin le ke jaayenge, I won’t buy it, I will make it myself. I said I will just sketch, I am not a big sketcher, but I will come and paint it. So, I have done a deal with him. Now, every Sunday I will go and paint. And we are fond of dogs. Abhi main swimming bhi sikh rahi hoon achchhey se!
Rani: Kyaa baat hai! That’s amazing! There has been a rise in horrific crimes committed by juveniles.
Archana – Yes.
Rani: How do you stay alert and your thoughts on how we as a society can do a bit to tackle it?
Archana: Don’t be complacent. One thing is that we think ki bachaa hai, you know, young hai toh you know, he is not capable of crimes. Complacency is not to be there. For women and the girls also they have to be alert all the time. We can’t say ki tum yeh kapde mat pehno, ya woh mat pehno. We can’t say that, because women-girls have to be out and you know a workplace and all these things… But yes, alertness is has to be there. You must get the signals. Women have you know that kind of you know say, they have that female instinct… use that, that should remain alive. See, we are women, we are not men. So hum agar hai female to humko apna you know, we have some sensibilities which we must be aware of. Aadmi Ban ke Kya karenge? That’s not the point at all. We are raising our girl child to become you know to go out in the world and prove themselves but we are not training our male child to handle those women. That is what the problem is.
Archana: So, once that happens at the family level, I think we will have more sensitive men in the society. And it will take some time. I think some beginning has been made but this aggression also needs to be handled, which I find is growing…
Rani: Aggression due to? Because you are tackling these people every day like when you talk to them and you ask them that why did you do crime like this what is the answer?
Archana: Nahin, aisa answer toh koi nahin… I have been talking to them for few years now, but what I would (say)… If you look at the data, which I am not having it right now, it is not as if these kind of crimes are being committed by poor people or those who are unemployed or those who have nothing you know, social strata lower se aa haye hai aisa bhi nahin hai… You will find these kind of crimes from among those people who are also very affluent, who have everything in the world. They are running their industrial houses but still getting into this kind of a thing. So ultimately one has to start from the family only, and you raise your male child to be sensitive towards women. Police will do its job, government will do its job. You can’t have one police man per person. 125 crore policemen toh nahin kar saktey hai na? So that is very, very important.
Produced by Aditya Chopra, Mardaani 2 will be Rani Mukerji’s next release which is set to hit theatres on 13th December.