(Written by Anjali Krishnakumar)
“Sheher chhote hote hai, unme rehne wale log nahi,” says Kangana Ranaut, quoting the recent film MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, about cricketer MS Dhoni’s life. Ranaut believes that no matter where people come from, or what resources they have, they have the ability to achieve their dreams. “The size of the life that you’ve captured inside you is what matters. Your vision of the world and the world that you live in, your inner world, that’s all that matters,” adds the actor, who was in Pune recently to share her “Passion to Paycheck Journey” at a Signature Masterclass event.
Ranaut is currently one of Bollywood’s most successful actors. But, like in any other profession, she also had to struggle to achieve this status. Although she says she has given up a lot to reach the position she is in today, she doesn’t consider it a bad thing. “To associate sacrifice with a career is like saying you’re doing a favour to yourself. It wouldn’t make sense, I’ve sacrificed nothing for my career, I’ve invested but not sacrificed,” she says.
The actor has always been one of the industry’s strongest advocates for gender equality and parity, demanding equal pay and status. Now, because of efforts made by herself and people like her, actresses are treated with much more respect than they were earlier. Even so, there is still a startling lack of women directors in Bollywood, something Ranaut was quick to notice and comment on. Although she does say that things are changing now. “I wouldn’t say the proportion is coming to some balance but you see a lot more women directors,” she says.
One reason women directors need to be encouraged, she says, is because of the comfort level it affords women actors as well. “My experience of Panga with Ashwiny (Iyer Tiwari) is very different than working with a male director. It’s just the comfort level is very high. That will always be the case. With a male director there are so many levels of breaking the ice but with a woman director it’s just a gender-based thing,” she says.
Ranaut too has made her foray into directing with Manikarnika, along with Krish Jagarlamudi. Although her move to direct seemed rather sudden, she says directing was always something that was in the books for her. “Well, I always meant to direct a film. I think it’s been 4-5 years since I’ve been meaning to direct, so when this opportunity came about I had to take it”, she says. The movie is about the life of Rani Lakshmi Bai, a character who Ranaut herself strongly relates to due to the character’s fearless and fiery personality.
Speaking of which, Ranaut has also been one of Bollywood’s boldest voices for the #MeToo movement, where several women from Bollywood and other industries, came together to support survivors of sexual harassment. She says that there are still a lot of changes to be made but it is commendable that so many men were called out and currently have criminal proceedings going against them.
“But the good thing is that in the light of all of this people have become absolutely cautious of their behaviour, their conduct, and obviously a person will think 10 times before humiliating anyone and violating their human rights,” she says.