Here’s Why Kangana Praising Akshay Betrays All That She Stands For
Kangana Ranaut might have established herself as the queen of onscreen female characters with unapologetic agency, but her words seem to betray her body of work. In a recent interview with an entertainment website, the Judgementall Hai Kya actor praised Akshay Kumar for bringing films like Mission Mangal to the forefront. She even thanked him for lending his “star power” to the film that is, essentially, about a bunch of female scientists who made ISRO’s Mars mission a reality.
For those of you who don’t know, despite Mission Mangal’s success at the box office, the film received some flak for its caricatured portrayal of women. It was also criticised for reinforcing the ‘male saviour narrative’ in Akshay Kumar’s character. Now, the film industry, especially Bollywood, has a long history of being unkind and prejudiced towards women. That is a known fact. To then have a man swoop down and conveniently make women secondary to a narrative that is rightfully theirs is infuriating. However, to have a woman support such a superficial form of female empowerment is even worse.
But Kangana doesn’t just lend support to an established male star’s success, she also somehow seems to downplay her own body of work. In the interview, the actor thanks other men who, she claims, had faith in the story of Manikarnika, despite her flop films like Simran and Rangoon. And adds that Akshay Kumar’s willingness to be a part of a film that is so obviously “women-centric” should be commended.
Kangana’s defeatist attitude is, to a certain extent, understandable. The fight against patriarchy has always been a long, exhausting one. But when Kangana explicitly states that for a film to be successful there needs “to be a hero’s face” and women must be reduced to “a secondary part,” it’s slightly offensive. Specially coming from a woman whose body of work is anything but that.
No one’s saying that Kangana’s journey must have been an easy one. She even mentions that she has personally witnessed how the system perceives women-centric films, but immediately follows it up with “women are subtler beings and we can't deny that.” She further adds that it’s a “gender issue” and that “women are devalued for their contribution just because they do not have the testosterone muscle.” Which is correct, but just not in the way she puts it. To use words like ‘subtle’ is to blame women for centuries of misogyny and make toxic masculinity the norm. Something we’re actively trying to get rid of in 2019... right?