Whatever you may choose to believe or opine about Kangana Ranaut, there are certain facts about her that are indisputable: She is an excellent actor; she has won three National Awards for her work; she has single-handedly taken on the system in Bollywood and produced films of her own accord.
Her latest tweets talk about her transformation as an actor and she compares herself to Hollywood’s Meryl Streep and Gal Gadot and also claims she’s better at stunts than Tom Cruise. There were some who hailed her and of course, others who trolled her incessantly. Whether you support her or disagree with her, the fact is that Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut makes many people feel uneasy – including Bollywood – and they are unsure of how to deal with her controversial, aggressive opinions calling out those she deems to have ‘failed’ in her eyes.
It was actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death in 2020 which triggered a barrage of tweets from Ranaut alleging conspiracy, the doping problem in B-Town, and the cliques that controlled an actor’s fate in the system. She called out names and practically no one in the Hindi film industry spoke out against her or acknowledged what she had said.
Cut to 2021, Ranaut has taken on the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, the Mumbai police chief, stars in B-Town including the Khans, and has tweeted out about social and political issues including the current farmers’ protest. Every tweet of hers results in a controversy providing more fodder to the media and makes Ranaut the focus of the day generating innumerable headlines and clicks on social media. However, some on social media also talk about Ranaut’s mental health status and the need for intervention given her incessant ranting on socio-political issues which they believe is attention-seeking and delusional. Whatever you may choose to believe or opine about her, there are certain facts about Ranaut that are indisputable: she is an excellent actor; she has won three National Awards for her work; she has single-handedly taken on the system in Bollywood and produced films of her own accord. In short, she has controlled her narrative as an artist in the Indian film industry and has emerged victorious. No other actor – let alone female – has taken on the Bollywood system and survived successfully.
Despite all the controversies, Ranaut continues to work in films today – and diverse ones at that, like the Jayalalithaa and Indira Gandhi biopics and action film ‘Dhaakad’. Her confidence in her ability to produce her own films and her belief that filmmakers will continue to want to work with her – notwithstanding her war-of-words and personal opinions – remains unchallenged (interestingly). Which possibly proves her point that she is a force to reckon with.
It is a given that Kangana Ranaut is in the entertainment business for the long haul. Having said that, the Bollywood actor clearly nurses political ambitions at the national level and seems to have charted a clear career course towards that. The last year has seen Ranaut grow more vociferous on social media on national socio-political issues and her admiration and support for the current dispensation has not gone unnoticed. She flaunts her nationalism and patriotism on her sleeve and is willing to take on anyone (including Twitter) who sees India and the Government of India as a weak power. The Padma Shri awardee’s statements keep her in the headlines every day and that’s a PR strategy that’s working quite effectively for her.
The uneasiness that Ranaut causes in many is a reminder that they are silent and don’t dare to speak out on issues that they should, both at the industry and national level. Though her opinions may often not be logical or agreeable, she fearlessly voices them. Hollywood celebs have always expressed their political views and this was highly evident during Donald Trump’s time as President. In India, however, most celebrities refrain from commenting not just on politics but social issues as well for fear of retribution, trolling, and bullying – online and offline. The ‘Manikarnika’ actor’s fearlessness about the consequences of her opinions has given her the edge over the film industry and in today’s India, her fans and supporters seem to be growing.
For many, it’s tough to bifurcate the actor’s personality into Kangana Ranaut, the talented actor, and Kangana Ranaut, the controversial, opinionated individual. And therein lies the dilemma. The truth is though that love her or hate her, you can’t ignore her. The ‘Queen’ of Bollywood is here to stay.