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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

What makes Kangana Ranaut’s stardom go beyond symbolism in selfie-obsessed Bollywood?

It’s safe to be diplomatic. Can other stars in Bollywood afford Kangana Ranaut’s magical honesty?

Written by Dipti Sharma | New Delhi | Updated: March 23, 2017 8:49:22 pm
Kangana Ranaut, Kangana Ranaut birthday, Kangana Ranaut image Just like Rani in Queen, Kangana Ranaut is Bollywood’s rare unscripted star.

There is something so infectious about Rani’s innocence in Queen, that a part of you wants to own it. Kangana Ranaut played a simple but assertive young girl from Delhi who goes on a journey of self-discovery in the movie. Queen is one of those rare Hindi movies that you wouldn’t mind watching on a laptop on a rainy day. Just like any afternoon tea snack, you can take this movie out of your cupboard and munch on it happily.

When we watched the movie in the gloom of a big multiplex, we felt jubilant and absolutely triumphant. This coming-of-age movie lifted our moods and spirits. As Rani breaks into a run on her way to watch a rock show (and to her freedom), one feels a sense of joy.

Queen wasn’t the first film to explore the themes of self-realization and finding freedom. However, what sets it apart is Rani’s ability to retain her innocence throughout her journey from humble beginnings to self-awareness. A transformation doesn’t necessarily mean losing one’s identity.

For instance, Rani is hurt by her ex-fiancé Vijay’s betrayal but has no resentment or regret. During a conversation between the two in Amsterdam, we see Rani asking Vijay ( played by Rajkummar Rao) if he has visited Paris and other cities in Europe. One can’t but feel amused at Rani’s ability to hold a normal conversation with a man who had left her at the altar. In the last scene, we see Rani meeting Vijay at his home and saying thank you.

For bringing a character alive on screen, actors often borrow from their own experiences and personality. However, sometimes their own personalities and character’s on-screen mannerisms coalesce in a way that it’s difficult to identify who is playing whom. There’s a reason why Deepika Padukone shines playing a Veronica in Cocktail or why Kareena Kapoor does justice to Geet’s character in Jab We Met. There are some stark similarities between a reel Rani and a real Kangana.

Kangana possesses Rani’s frankness. Like Rani, Kangana speaks her mind. What many assume as her boldness is mere a personality trait. Like Queen, there is fairy-tale like feeling to Kangana’s own journey from humble beginnings to the upper echelon of the film industry.

Just like Queen where Rani thanks Vijay, Kangana in real life thanked Karan Johar on his show Koffee with Karan saying, “You have been the driving force of my life. You mocked me and made fun of my English on this couch. I am not complaining. But somewhere, these things do drive you.”

Like Queen, there is fairy-tale like feeling to Kananga’s own journey from humble beginnings to the upper echelon of the film industry.

Kangana is unguarded and uncensored in her interviews. She has absolutely no problem in calling a spade a spade. One enjoys her interviews for their honesty. Unfortunately, this specific personality trait for speaking one’s mind is often termed as ‘rebellious’ and given other names in showbiz, where diplomacy is the secret key to climbing the ladder of success.

The entertainment industry which largely works on creating, distorting and recycling an ‘image’ requires an actor to behave in a certain way. This age of internet and social media has created another huge wall between a celebrity and people. An actor’s personality is often created based on Instagram posts and Facebook pictures. Kangana has no need for social media platform to provide an access to her.

In Kangana’s case, people have a direct access to her mind and soul. If there is anything people absolutely love about a public figure is their ‘frankness’. Unfortunately, there are not many stars in Bollywood who have the same gay abandon as Kangana. Kangana’s personality rather than being a manufactured one for winning multiple endorsements and assignments is a sum of her small efforts to put a real part of her out there in public. That’s a lot of courage and risk that not many stars are willing to take. That’s not an easy way out to navigate the rough terrain of a glamorous world.

There is a reason why we will never have a star like Marilyn Monroe in these times where everything (right from the clothes one wears to the words they speak) is controlled by stars’ PR agencies. In her interviews (just like Marilyn) Kangana displays the same sense of frankness, vulnerability and strength. That’s a rare personality trait in stars today and is one the verge of extinction.

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In that sense, the phenomenon of Kangana Ranaut’s magical honesty is a ‘welcome’ change even as some in the industry would like to term it as just another passing fad.

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