Kangana Ranaut: 'I would have rejected Hansal Mehta's Simran had it remained a thriller'

Seema Sinha

Sep 11, 2017 14:43:12 IST

Kangana Ranaut walks into the room looking resplendent. Sporting a floral dress with her hair in a boho braided updo decorated with a tiara of flowers, the actress looks like a queen fresh out of a battle she just won. But she knows the war is far from over. She has been making headlines for last few weeks, because of the revelations about her alleged affair and fall-out with Hrithik Roshan. Before settling down, she spends some time about to her team, inquiring about a ‘false’ report published in a tabloid. She has proven to be one of Bollywood’s ultimate fighters when it comes to nasty rumours. But in Bollywood, the only victory that matters is the one at the box office, so Kangana's biggest battle right now is her upcoming film, Simran.

Simran, which is slated to release on 15 September, is about an unapologetic divorcee living a life of crime in the US. Hansal Mehta had approached Kangana with an idea based on multiple incidents of robberies at gas stations and on highways in the US he read about. Asians were responsible for most of these crimes. “Hansal Sir was fascinated by these events. These desperate people just stick their hands into their sweatshirts pretending to be having a gun, at a gas station or bank. The prejudice and xenophobia in America is so much that they panic and will give anything if you’re seen in a burqa, or if you’re an Asian, or refugee or an immigrant. That is how they see brown skin,” she says.  Comparing this behaviour with what happens in our own country, she says, “In India, if you aim a gun at someone, the reaction will be: 'What, what do you want?' Forget about having to fake a gun. Or, if you go to a grocery store and demand money from the baniya, he will give you five tight slaps and kick you out. So these US incidents sounded quite exciting.” As she narrates these stories, she laughs out loud.

Kangana Ranaut: I would have rejected Hansal Mehtas Simran had it remained a thriller

Kangana Ranaut in Simran. Youtube screengrab

While Kangana has been extremely keen to collaborate with the “amazing filmmaker” for a long time, she wasn’t too kicked about doing a thriller, which is what Simran was originally meant to be. “I like Hansal Sir's cinema and we were supposed to work on two biopics, but those didn’t work out,” she says, adding, “I wasn’t super excited with Simran initially. I have been avoiding thrillers for a while now, though I do get a lot of thriller scripts. For directors, it is really an exciting genre, but for actors it is not, because it is more treatment-based and limiting. So my only concern was that if the script turns out to be a thriller, I may not go ahead with this. But they allowed me to collaborate to a great extent when the writer was working on the script. The initial idea was a lot like The Wolf of Wall Street; it was in the crime, drugs and thriller zone, which I was not looking for. So we together moulded it the way we wanted to, and eventually, I found a lot freedom and fluidity with Hansal Sir. That is what worked out,” says Kangana. She calls Simran a family entertainer.

Talking about her character in the film, she says, “This is one character who has been wronged by life, and that is the heroism we are exploring. What if you go wrong in life? Is there a way out? Can there be a new beginning? The greatness of people who love to live on the edge, like my character Praful, lies in their seeking of redemption. But the film doesn’t glorify a criminal or that sort of a life, that I can assure.”

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Kangana Ranaut in Simran. Youtube screengrab

Kangana also had a lot of fun playing the part. “In films like Queen, or Tanu Weds Manu, or Simran, the clothes, location, conversation — everything is contemporary. We have taken liberties with the dialogues. I wasn't in a war or some zone in a world war. I was in a comfortable space, in the intimate story of a family,” she explains.

Moving into another phase of her life, the 30-year-old actor will now focus on her career as a filmmaker and plans to act only in her films. “I have been a collaborator for a while now, but I realise it is an unfair business where either I'm stepping on someone’s toes, or someone is stepping on mine. I don’t know if it stems from the fact that I am so young, or that they don’t expect me to get involved. My involvement is getting sensational, and I don’t like things turning negative. I'd rather do something on my own and hence decided to go solo,” she says.

Referring to her dispute with Apurva Asrani over the sharing of writing credits for Simran, and with Ketan Mehta, who had sent her a legal notice for "hijacking" one of his most ambitious film projects, Rani of Jhansi: The Warrior Queen, she says, “When it has been legally sorted out and we'd amicably decided to collaborate, people still created so much drama. How do you trust people? Many stories about me were floating around, and these people [Ketan and Apurava] were writing big essays and filing cases." She further adds, “But there are no rules as such. If a friend comes up with a good script, or if there is a collaboration with another director in terms of screenplays, stories or production, I will not refrain from taking it up, because I have a lot of respect for several creative people in the industry. But I want to start something of my own.”

Speaking about a recent report which said that Sanjay Leela Bhansali was considering Shah Rukh Khan and her for a film, she says, “Some time ago Bhansali Sir and my sister Rangoli had a conversation about a film, but there is nothing as of now.”

Kangana will be debuting as a director with Teju, a children's film in which she plays an 80-year-old woman. “Right now I am only into Simran and Manikarnika (in which she essays the role of the Queen of Jhansi). Ideally, I should have had a final draft for Teju by now, but I don’t have it yet. I will get to work on it only when Manikarnika is over, sometime in November-December,” she says. Speaking about Manikarnika, she said, “It is a huge project with extraordinary action and warfare sequences. We dived into the climax right away (laughs). There were many challenges of getting the character and the look of the film right. It is a film where the protagonist dies along with the major characters. For everyone, it has been very testing.”

The sketch for Kangana's character in Manikarnika. Image from Twitter

The sketch for Kangana's character in Manikarnika. Image from Twitter

One wonders how she is able to manage with so many controversies and conflicts raising their ugly heads over and over again. “It is exhausting but at the same time it is not as exhausting for me as it is for people who build up these fake scenarios. For them it is much more agonising, but for me I have to just lie low and ask, ‘Well, how far will you go with it?' And then you see them crumble, die down, dissolve and disappear. It is not that hard for me. It is like digging a pit for someone, continuing to dig it and then waiting for the other person to fall into it. It is too large an effort from those people. Too much!” she exclaims, as her eyes widen.

Kangana had recently said in a show on national television that she’s seeking an apology from Hrithik. She says, “It is behind me. If I were him, I would [apologise]. But it’s fine. I am just thankful (laughs).”

Updated Date: Sep 13, 2017 15:56:14 IST