Kangana Ranaut: I’ve never had egg on my face publicly
2019 looks like a particularly exciting year for you. More so as last year we hardly saw you on screen.
(Laughs) There were only cases; about six to seven of them. People were trying to put me behind bars, can you believe that? They should make a film on my life also (laughs uncontrollably). This year, I have Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, Mental Hai Kya and Panga, all of these are exciting subjects. I personally feel that life moves like a wave. I have had a really horrible time and I hope it changes this year. 2018 was bad. My films weren’t working, cases were filed against me; it was going really downhill, till a point, it couldn’t go any further down. But you never know; life has a way of surprising you. Hopefully, it will change for the better.
You are an extraordinarily spirited individual. But do you see yourself as a lone wolf?
I don’t feel lonely, because honestly, people may not be there with me physically, but I get a lot of support from various quarters. I’ve stood up for so many things. But I’ve never had a situation where I had egg on my face publicly. Like I said, it may not necessarily be from our industry, but I do get support from individuals across different walks of life. God knows where that comes from and how much people really resonate and identify with me.
For example, when the whole nepotism thing happened, Karan Johar went on record and apologised to me. There are a whole lot of instances of such a nature. When I began shooting for Manikarnika, I switched off from everything. I never bothered about it, but there were these never-ending open letters. Even in the past, when I faced uneasy accusations from one quarter and I was sent a notice, there was such an outrage. But though I was not relevantly a big star and I was having this conflict with a co-actor, I did find people supporting me.
However, at times I did feel cornered, especially after Simran’s failure. Script writer Apurva Asrani, filmmakers Ketan Mehta, Karan Johar and Rakesh Roshan and some others singled me out for criticism. The industry was having these intense meetings to make sure I was put in my place. Probably that was the only phase when I felt suffocated.
It makes me feel suffocated even now when I think about it. Ketan went to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW), Aditya Pancholi filed a case and Rakesh Roshan continued to say he would ‘reveal’ something. However, all of this didn’t go anywhere.
The EOW withdrew the case. Nothing came out of that propaganda, they did. As for nepotism, Karan had to apologise. But at that time, I felt I couldn’t take it anymore because there were six-seven things happening simultaneously and I was the lone target.
Is the Bollywood hierarchy dominated by Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt and you? How do you view the top position?
Let’s not have any delusions about that. The kind of place Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan naturally inherited from their seniors like Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan worked differently. Actually as far as the girls go, this is not something that can be looked upon so superficially. With women it has been different. What we have currently is definitely as good as it can get. However, I don’t know about us being a part of the hierarchy. In the ’80s and ’90s, we’ve had Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit-Nene, who enjoyed a certain spurt of superstardom. If you see, there were those small phases of stardom that they saw, it was very age oriented and focused only around that span of time. Keeping all that in mind, we’ve definitely made a better place for ourselves. But are we on par with our male counterparts? No. However, we do wield a certain amount of influence on the audience and that feels good.
A recent media report quoted you as saying that you can identify with Rani Laxmibai because there are similarities between your life and hers.
I don’t think I said exactly that. Her life was very extreme. It would be naive of me to say that I identify with her life or say my life is similar to that of hers. We are born in free India. Our issues are, jaise kehte hain na, ‘amiron ki gambhir samasyaaein’. In those days, there were real problems. The way she struggled, or even how unfortunate her death was. It’s too much for us to realise its intensity.
We can fight cases openly, we have a proper constitution. But someone throwing you out of your palace or for that matter from your land because they think they can grab your wealth! Jhansi was one of the princely states at that time, especially a Hindu princely state and perhaps the richest. So, they had very real issues. But I do identify with her spirit. And that is perhaps what I have tried to convey. If I’m tested, I don’t know to what extent; but not giving up, standing for what I feel and having a voice is definitely what I identify with.