Dear Kangana Ranaut, A Gentle Reminder - You Are Not Manikarnika
Dear Kangana Ranaut,
I'm well aware of the fact that acting is not an easy job, and you have to be so involved that you often take your job home. But, honestly, while I admire your acting skills greatly and rejoice in your success as an actor, I have to ask you to please do us all, as well as your own self a favour, and cut the damn drama.
Kangana, you are no avatar of Bharat Mata. Neither are you actually Manikarnika. Please don't forget that even though you have struggled significantly to attain the position and power that you now hold and command, you lead today a very rich and a very privileged existence. You are untouchable, wealthy - the highest paid actress in Bollywood, according to your own admission - and have access to services and perks that your average Indian woman can't dream of. When you make a film, nationalist or not, you have an entire crew scampering about frantically, with your best interest at heart. And you are not the only person in the country who works hard.
If you stepped out of your van (the same one in which you claimed to have shared a meal with Justin), and really looked around, you would see hundreds of people, slogging just as hard, if not harder, on your own film set. That too sans the privilege of publicly lashing out or crying foul if their film garners flak. Point being: you are no singular, unifying representational image of the nation.
Thus, it is not only unfair, but highly condemnable, that you accuse people of being desh-drohi/anti-national if they dislike your film or your attitude. Do I really have to tell you that making a film like Manikarnika does not make you a torchbearer of patriotism or nationalism? The film was a commercial feature, which has also apparently made money at the box-office. You, Kangana, may have had the country's best interest at heart, but in making the film you were neither fighting a war, nor eradicating poverty, nor finding a cure for cancer. You were only doing one thing: your job, for which you get paid. And it is up to other people - regular viewers and scribes alike - to decide whether they like how you did your job or not.
While I stand in full solidarity with critics and commentators, I staunchly condemn any abuse or trolling that may have come your way since the release of the film. Similarly, I decry the trolling you indulged in via the video you shared, referring to journalists who didn't like your work as termites, pseudo, traitors and freeloaders.
When you try to term a bunch of journalists as “tenth-fail”, you don’t only seem deeply unaware, but also woefully tone-deaf. The term “tenth-fail” carries a strong stench of elitism, Kangana. If you remove your saffron tinted glasses for five seconds, you will see that India is still struggling with massive inequalities and to be able to successfully complete your high school is still a privilege.
Further, you may have somehow given a journalist's parents and grandparents "lohe-ke-channe" to chew on, but garbage treatment of people is not something you thump your chest over. If you speak about it with pride, you only betray arrogance and inconsideration, both rather unpleasant qualities in an adult who tries to come across as the woman of the nation.
Speaking of chest thumping, also, Kangana, your saffron, insecure and immensely suffocating idea of nation-love, serves your self-interests as well. When you go into lengthy tirades on nationalism, you receive publicity, your film does well, your fans see you in the same light as they see your hero (PM Modi, ofc) and you somehow get to indulge in political banter on topics that don’t pertain to you and that you are only superficially aware of, such as the Article 370 in Kashmir. So please, I'm begging you, stop acting like your nationalism is entirely selfless and your feelings for the nation are greater than that of a journalist who may opine differently from you. It may get you an orange ticket in one of these elections, but it will never make you a greater person.
I saw how you lamented (in the beginning of your sorry rant about how you're not sorry) the visible absence of a constitutional scope for penalising someone for "desh-drohi" remarks. I can bet you will enjoy reading about the archaic Sedition Law – a gift from the masters Manikarnika fought – as the law allows for students and educators and writers and thinkers to be sent to jail for having views contradictory to those of fervent statists. Trivia? The sedition law is abused almost as often as the term “desh drohi” is. Relatable content, no? Told you, you’d enjoy it!
Kangana, your spat with Justin was unnecessary and unfortunate. Your rant, post the Entertainment Journalists Guild ban, was riddled with threats, tautology, misinformation and pure muck. It was an attempt to exploit your power and influence, and it reeked of embarrassing levels of self-importance. So seriously, sister, as someone who has once loved your films and stood in long queues outside cinema halls just to make it in time for your shows, I'm going to seriously request you to cool it.
Not Anti-Nationally (But haha! That doesn't fit your narrative does it?)
A Former Fan
(Mekhala Saran is a student of law, a freelance journalist and a poet. Find her on Twitter @mekhala_saran.)
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