Judging Kangana: From Self-made ‘Queen’ to the ‘Other Side’
Like nearly everything that the actor does, Kangana Ranaut’s conversation with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev made news for a multitude of reasons. In a conversation where the two spoke about a host of topics including aliens, the mainstay of the interaction for a few people and media outlets was the seemingly ‘patriotic’, ‘nationalistic’ and the ‘oh, not the liberal argument’ tenor that the actor displayed.
Interestingly enough, right from her early days in the business, Ranaut has rarely shied away from speaking her mind and although there was nothing new in what was expressed through the course of the conversation with Sadhguru, the reactions have been varied. Amongst them, the assumption that Ranaut has ‘political’ ambitions just because she said something politically charged has led her fans and observers to realign the way they perceive her.
As reactions continue to pour in, one can only say, welcome to the ‘Patriotic Club’, Kangana! Here, you will find that it’s not what you said that would be debated by people but rather it would be discussed, argued and postulated on the basis of what they feel about what you said. But much like how the rest of the world seems to have different sets of rules for different people, the film business, too, operates on the same principle. So, today if Kangana Ranaut or Akshay Kumar were to say something ‘patriotic’ they are bracketed in a specific slot.
In 2006, when Shah Rukh Khan said that Sonia Gandhi was a wonderful person and found her to be a strong lady, someone “you can admire,” there were the expected questions about his interest in politics as well. In an interview later he clarified that while his statement was said, “apolitically” it may not have been taken as such and while adding that it had nothing to do with her party being in power, he said, “It’s just that nobody asked me my opinion about her before.’’ Is this why Shah Rukh Khan’s apolitical statements do not generate the kind of reactions such as the likes of Prasoon Joshi or Anupam Kher?
While not undermining the merit or the lack thereof, in what actors say about the world beyond the cosmos they find comfort in, much of the reaction can be gauged from what Nietzsche observed - There are no facts, only interpretations. When it comes to popular films, the Hindi film industry is very different from their Tamil and Telugu counterparts. Here, actors invariably assume that either people would take what they say at face value or nothing that they say would matter. The latter is also a defence when what they say is questioned.
As opposed to Bollywood, actors in the south are not only aware of the need for a political identity but also sport it, as and when needed. In that respect, Kangana would be one of the few superstars, north of the Vindhyas who is not only aware of the consequences of what she says but also does not bother beyond a point about being ‘politically correct.’ For some inexplicable reason, Kangana’s brand as someone who speaks her mind and is woke seems to hinge on what she says and about whom.
Up until her appearance on Karan Johar’s talk show, she was being hailed as the undisputed queen of Hindi films and getting her to be a part of a project was akin to getting Aamir Khan to commit! The moment she commented on the rampant nepotism in the film industry addressing Johar as the one who was the flag bearer of such a practice, she was ticked off the cool list. A few months later, her public comment about being a “big Modi fan” at News18 Rising India Summit kickstarted her transition from an independent, self-made woman to the ‘other side.’
If one were to take a longer look there is perhaps nothing new in what Kangana Ranaut said when speaking to Sadhguru; she was just her usual unabashed self who spoke freely on a whole lot of things… and had she been talking about anything else, much of the reaction would have different.
(This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)