Rangoon: Why a fearless Kangana Ranaut slips into the shoes of Jaanbaaz Julia with ease
It's fair to say that no other actor could have projected the balanced act of humility and ferocity, like Kangana Ranaut seems to have done in Rangoon.
In a military green tie-up shirt, rosy lips complementing her peaches-n-cream complexion, Kangana Ranaut walks the tightrope between intimidation and desirability in Vishal Bhardwaj's upcoming war drama Rangoon. When she cracks a whip and exclaims 'Bloody Hell', she transports viewers to the 1940s when Fearless Nadia (real name Mary Stuart Evans) had entered the annals of Hindi cinema.
Can we picture anyone else as 'Jaanbaaz Julia', the central character of Rangoon? Even if we can, Bhardwaj couldn't. Kangana has gone on record and said that the filmmaker could only visualise her as Julia though there were multiple ace actors who were vying for the author-backed role.
In fact, though in good humour, Kareena Kapoor Khan also posed the question of why she was not cast, when she appeared on Koffee with Karan Season 5. While there is no doubt that Kareena would pull off a commendable act, Kangana slips into the shoes of Julia quite organically.
The first factor that allows her to do so is that she was not born within the Hindi film industry. She is an outsider, and that too from Manali, a small Himachal Pradesh town not particularly known for its love for cinema. Like Kangana, Fearless Nadia was also an outsider. She hailed from Australia and moved to Mumbai in 1913. After her father was killed two years later in World War 1, she ensured her rise to the top was without the aid of a protective helping hand.
Similarly, Kangana's struggles are well-documented. She ran away from her hometown to chase her Mumbai matinee dream. Following a significant debut in Anurag Basu's 2006 film Gangster, she went through a turbulent professional phase (which had a high point in a National Award win for Fashion), only to establish her supremacy through Vikas Bahl's 2014 film Queen.
While narrating her challenging rise to the top on Firstpost's entertainment show Gossip Guy, Kangana pointed out how in the mid-1930s (when Fearless Nadia came into the picture), it was a given that all the actors would belong to humble backgrounds. For example, Dilip Kumar being a bus conductor, was not a huge deal as Hindi cinema was in its infant stage. On the other hand, outsiders are more celebrated in the contemporary setup as there are so many industry kids today who get a direct ticket to their big break.
Besides being an outsider, the second factor that contributes to Kangana mirroring the 'Hunterwali' is her fearless approach towards love, life and work. She's been frank about her ugly legal battle with Hrithik Roshan last year. She has also maintained that she does not want to work with either of the Khans as she does not want to be reduced to a weak supporting role, like in Nikkhil Advani's 2015 romantic comedy Katti Batti.
She has also minced no words in accusing filmmaker Karan Johar of nepotism, dubbing Shahid Kapoor as a 'moody' co-star or taking potshots at her contemporaries including Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra. She has often confessed that she voices her thoughts with abandon as she has no emotion pressure to succumb to or holds herself accountable to anyone, unlike industry kids who often have a tall order to live up to.
Given the two parallels between her and Fearless Nadia, it will be a disservice to Kangana's hard work if we say that it would have been rather convenient for her to do the role. As she disclosed in an interview to Film Companion, it was excruciatingly demanding to execute the stunts or action sequences in Rangoon. While she has delivered some blows in Rakesh Roshan's 2013 science fiction entertainer Krrish 3 in the past, Rangoon was a challenge of a different sort. She had to perform her action moves and look glamourous at the same time.
Since her last few films, including Queen and Tanu Weds Manu, have seen her in de-glam avatars, looking glamourous in Rangoon was a change again. And Vishal Bhardwaj is known to be a taskmaster who demands perfection of his actors.
But it's fair to say that no other actor could have projected the balanced act of humility and ferocity, like Kangana seems to have done in Rangoon.
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