Why Is Kangana Ranaut Not Being Asked the Tough Questions?
“Blowing off the candles of others does not make one’s own shine brighter.”
Kangana Ranaut, the trailblazer, strong fearless woman who is not scared to take on the big guys. A self-made star, an outsider in the admittedly incestuous industry, who has fought numerous odds to reach the acme of critical fame and popularity in the Mumbai film industry.
Over the last few days, we have seen her in several interviews, which, with her next film Simran coming on, is all normal part of the promotion strategy.
Except it does not remain just that.
Because the way Kangana wants to remain in the news is through controversies, with the portrayal being that of a vulnerable, wronged but gutsy woman, who survived several abusive relationships and in the recent past, had the gumption to take on Karan Johar about his nepotistic hold on the industry. Because her game-plan for success seems to be to trample all who helped prop her to the heights she has reached.
Heights which have made her so drunkenly dizzy that she has lost sight of truth. Because facts don’t seem to get in the way of her ethics and ruthless ambition at all and fair-play is a term she has not heard.
Take the case of Apurva Asrani’s role in Simran, a movie to be released this Friday. Here are the facts:
Hansal Mehta, with whom Apurva has a long association spanning 6 movies, sent Apurva a news article about a woman in the US who crossed the line of law. Straight after the soul-churning, visceral, draining experience of working on Aligarh, he wanted to make a fun movie. Simran could be it. He signed a contract and developed the idea into an original story. Kangana heard the narration and was ecstatic, saying she would do the movie. Apurva wrote 9 drafts of the script over 1 ½ years, delving deeper each time. Kangana had several inputs which he happily incorporated in the script.
This writer has proof that Apurva wrote multiple messages to Hansal asking him to share the final/altered screenplay before they went to shoot in the US, even four days before shooting began, but it never came. Kangana talks about feeling responsible for the outcome of the movie because she had emotional and aesthetic investment in it.
It might do her well to remember that this was first Apurva’s baby and discrediting efforts, calling his story dark and gritty which she transformed into a light, fun film shows up her blatant arrogance, disregard for the truth and merciless and unscrupulous ability to change narratives to her benefit.
Apurva’s first Facebook post was about his intellectual property being usurped by Kangana. He had got signs before, but it came to a head with the first posters coming out with'additional dialogue & story' credit appearing before Apurva, discrediting completely his efforts of nearly two years. Hansal Mehta had capitulated and betrayed a long-standing friendship and lucre ultimately won. Proving yet again how fickle friendships are in tinsel-town. When faced with the potential deadlock, Apurva, simply to avoid the film being stalled, agreed to give additional writing credit to her.
For whatever reason, the next set of posters came out with Apurva’s name on top as writer, so Apurva decided to bury the hatchet and look forward positively, to the success of the film. His Facebook posts stands testimony to his genuine goodwill towards the film.
At this point, Kangana started doing interviews recklessly, arrogantly, claiming Apurva was after his ‘five minutes of fame’ (a possible reference to the Warholian 15 minutes?), whom people knew only because of her. Apurva is a young veteran with award-winning films like Satya to Shahid to City Lights to Aligarh under his belt. She did a Facebook Live session claiming she had written the film with Hansal from a one-liner he had given her.
Among her other wilder claims were that she found out Apurva did not write Aligarh, an allegation so damaging and serious that one assumes she does not understand the implications of it.
Through all her high profile media interviews, it is quite astonishing how it did not occur to any of our seasoned journalists why she was raking up old stories about Hrithik Roshan, Aditya Pancholi etc suddenly again. How could they not see the method in this madness? Or have they sold their souls so completely that a juicy story/interview is all that matters to them and professional ethics and fairness be damned.
Why are journalists and critics not asking her the tough questions, questions which would call her bluff? Her claim about approaching the Women’s Commission for help is now a proven lie, and yet the questions never come. Why is it OK for a woman to settle scores over broken relationships and manipulate national media to shame men when a man doing it is not? Talent, empathy, integrity are needed in any art form. Also, there is nothing gutsy and spunky about a star taking on a script writer, so we need to quit saying that. Everyone knows which side the sandwich is buttered.
Why is practically no one from the media asking Apurva for corroboration of the stories Kangana is doling out to any ear willing to listen?
How come only her narrative is being serving up to the people as truth? How come huge sections of the media – with all their pretensions of fairness and integrity – are not asking questions about her taking away Ketan Mehta’s ten years of research on the film on Rani of Jhansi? He has sent her a legal notice too. This is betrayal at so many levels it beggars belief. Ketan Mehta’s dream movie is now Manikarnika of Kamal Jain. Go figure.
How come there is a deafening silence on these issues when there is so much din about her everywhere?
Is it fine to lap up prurient details about people just because you are a woman and to hell with the collateral damages, the shattered hard-earned reputation of people, simply because they are males? Why is it OK for a woman to go on national TV and decimate the lives of men? This kind of faux feminism is exactly what will systematically push back the strides forward women’s rights have taken. Feminism is not about giving extra privileges to women for simply being a woman, to cheer gleefully even though it is patently obvious they are wrong. The breaking of rules with impunity, being outspoken and apparently gutsy with nary a care for anyone else is irresponsible, unethical and downright callous.
The victim-who-decides-to-hit-back narrative will play itself out and vilifying others to her own end could end very badly, for women and her. Because women who transgress the limits of decency & fair play by saying 'men did it, so why can't we?' cheat women everywhere. One needs to treat people as people instead of tools in one’s selfish ego-workshop. There is something wrong with a person if opportunity rules one’s loyalty.
Fighting against nepotism and authority and the glass ceiling are all fine. So is driving ambition – to spread out into different aspects of film making, to try one’s hand at directing. But there are ways of doing it – look at Aparna Sen and Konkona Sen Sharma to understand how it is possible to harbor directorial ambitions and execute them with dignity, giving everyone their due credit. That is how one can succeed, not by destroying everyone and their work in your wake.
Blowing off the candles of others does not make one’s own shine brighter.
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