Dear Farah, You’ve Got Kangana, Feminism & ‘Woman Card’ All Wrong
Kangana Ranaut’s version of the Hrithik Roshan saga might be a lie, but she’s definitely not a damsel in distress.
Dear Farah Khan,
I’m not writing this letter to you because I believe Kangana Ranaut’s story (I know as little about what really happened between Hrithik Roshan and her as you probably do), but because what you just said about her, made me realise that very often, women themselves don’t quite understand what ‘playing the woman card’ and feminism really mean. The Kangana-Hrithik saga is convoluted enough as it is, but now you’ve added the question of 'equality’ to it, and quite needlessly so. Frankly, it hurts me to see you do this to another woman. But I’ll try to save the ‘woman card’ for later and hold back my tears for now.
As a reaction to Kangana’s retelling of her story on Rajat Sharma’s show Aap Ki Adalat, you said-
I don’t want to take anyone’s name, I don’t want to get caught in between. But every time you are playing a woman’s card. For me feminism is equality.Farah Khan, Filmmaker-choreographer
So I watched the whole episode again, because for the life of me I couldn’t understand how you saw a damsel in distress weaved into her narrative. For me, she was quite the opposite. Vulnerable yet fearless. I see many women applauding Kangana, precisely for not playing the abla naari in the given scenario.
I’m also writing this because I hoped that you of all people would see that, having fought similar struggles as a young outsider with no godfather in the big bad film world. So Farah, let me explain what Kangana would’ve really said had she wanted to play the ‘woman card’.
“He’s a Cheater”
Not once does Kangana imply that she was promised a formal relationship and was later wronged or cheated. In fact, she says quite clearly that Hrithik laid out the terms of their arrangement, being a married man himself, and that it was her decision to get involved nevertheless.
If she really wanted to play the ‘woman card’, she might have projected him as a cheater, or maybe even worse- reveal personal details of his divorce and why it came about. But that’s beneath any woman and I respect the fact that she didn’t drag the actor’s wife into this. It would’ve been the easiest thing to do frankly.
A woman playing the ‘woman card’ does so because she feels that she has more to lose than the man involved. Kangana is not that girl. She’s still getting the work she wants to do and her career is far from over. The real truth is that she’s fearless, even when it comes to facing the repercussions of her own bad decisions. This is not a question of dignity for her, because she’s not the one holding her peace. She’s out there sharing her story with one journalist after another. Wouldn’t it have been easier to say “no comment” like Hrithik and hurry along? She doesn’t have the kind of money he does. She doesn’t have the kind of backing he does either. More importantly, she doesn’t have a family like the Roshans. She’s already fought her battles with patriarchy and judgment back home.
In fact, Kangana says something very important about blame and shame. “If something bad happens with a girl, the first thing that society does is blame her and question her for it”. We all know how careful we have to be about our cleavage showing or our skirts being too short. Despite that, she strongly says that abuse and/or harassment must be reported, even if it means being shamed.
In my opinion, she’s simply being a rebel. This has nothing to do with being a woman, or being weak.
“He Harrassed Me”
Once a man is slapped with harassment or molestation charges, it’s a long battle ahead for most. It is the easiest trap for a woman to set up and a lot of them play it dirty by filing false marital rape, dowry or sexual harassment allegations, armtwisting the law for some cash.
But Kangana on the other hand confesses to having been in love, to having written mushy poetry and love letters. She even declares clearly that it was she who got dumped. She doesn’t deny being involved with a married man. She doesn’t deny having exes. Not once does she give in to the power play. Because playing the ‘woman card’ is a desperate attempt to seek help in a situation that is in someone else’s control. But in Kangana’s story, she’s always had the power.
Rajat Sharma asks her the most sexist question, one you might have missed- “Did you ask him for public acceptance suggesting that you don’t want the status of being a mistress, but wanted to be a wife?”
Kangana says, “I don’t want anything. For me this was over in 2014.”
What Kangana does often enough to piss off industry folk is talk about its feudal ways. In this case too, her only allegation is that the Roshans have too much money to care about anything or anyone else.
That might or might not be true, but that’s besides the point. What it does make Kanagana’s story though, is one about the power play in Bollywood, not a woman’s underserving cry for help. The way she speaks of Karan Johar, the Khans or Aditya Chopra for that matter, do you think she considers not working with them to be career suicide? Hardly.
Again, this is not to say that I believe Kangana. It doesn’t quite matter what I believe as far as Bollywood A-listers are concerned. But what matters to me is a woman’s perception of another woman, because that’s a big part of what feminists across the world are trying to change.
Kangana Ranaut might well be a liar and a fraud, I’ll never know, but she’s fighting this battle like quite the feminist, I must say.
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