The Method in Kangana Ranaut’s Madness

Vinayak Chakravorty

Mar 29, 2019 13:31:14 IST

Kangana Ranaut is all set to play late Tamil political icon Jayalalithaa in a new biopic. The news broke last weekend, just ahead of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) confirming its alliance with All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) for the Lok Sabha polls. Now, if Ranaut’s closeness to the BJP power set is well known, and if AIADMK’s urge for a larger-than-life boost is urgent right now, do the math. Everybody concerned stands to gain in some way, Ranaut in particular.

For Ranaut, the biopic coming at the time of the crucial poll alliance automatically becomes a fresh battle cry hurled at Bollywood. It asserts that she can live without pampering the film industry’s power points, with whom her relationship has been far from cordial for a while. If she has emerged a lone horse routinely spewing fire on B-Town bigwigs, furthering her political clout would certainly be of huge advantage. In an election year, it also keeps her in the news.

That last bit is important to understand because the announcement of the Jayalalithaa biopic happens at a time when her latest film, Mental Hai Kya, missed its date with the box-office a second time within a month. The film, originally slated for a February release, was deferred to the March 29 weekend. It will now release sometime in May.

The news of the Jayalalithaa biopic has gone viral in the wake of Manikarnika, Ranaut’s last release that has emerged a hit. As always, she has played her cards smartly, and differently from what Bollywood is wont to do.

The Method in Kangana Ranaut’s Madness

Kangana Ranaut; Imaging by Shatakshi

Well, Kangana Ranaut is different, as the media blitz around her constantly keeps reminding us. So, her gameplan for surviving and making news has been different, too. Like everything else she says and does, the trait underlines her image as Bollywood’s Rebel Queen, which she hawks aggressively.

It is an image she has painstakingly crafted over the past 13 years since her debut with Gangster, blending guts with patiently-honed acting skills plus plenty of streetsmart cunning along the way — the last being absolutely essential if you are an actress out to survive mad, bad Bollywood without godfather or bloodline.

If she is filmland’s only top-bracket celebrity who gets away lambasting other top-bracket celebrities, there is method in the madness.

Rebellion, for Ranaut, is not necessarily just about voicing her mind in Bollywood — a domain that loves calling itself an industry but, despite the advent of corporatisation, hardly behaves as one.

Rebellion for Ranaut  is a well-crafted marketing mantra that lets her flourish in an industry which has for decades profited by selling portraits of perfection and harmony on and off the screen and that, quite frankly, has no clue about how to deal with her defiance.

Come to think of it, this streak makes Ranaut a suitable glam-girl for our times. We live in an era of social media chaos, where Twitter and Facebook bedlam set off by trolls gives a twisted spin to the notion of ‘entertainment’.

Ranaut is perhaps the first Bollywood star to understand its obvious effect — this is a generation that digs stories of hate and turmoil more than serenading sagas of romance. So, while cloying ditties of stars getting married at prohibitively expensive European lakeside villas charm us, elaborate details about Ranaut’s never-ending nasty war with Hrithik Roshan gets us hook, line and sinker.

In fact, ever since her spat with Roshan a few years ago, a lot of what has kept her in the news has, in some way or the other, been related to that ugly issue — like fresh episodes in a long-running TV series, each coming up with a bigger shock value.

The latest ‘big’ episode in the Ranaut-Roshan soap happened when she declared she would be releasing Manikarnika on Republic Day 2019, to set up a clash with his Super 30. The clash didn’t happen because Roshan postponed his film, but it was enough to keep both stars in the news.

Ranaut announced a while back she will be self-directing her biopic next, and the industry is worried. Insiders, on condition of anonymity, reveal at least two male superstars are apprehensive she could spill unsavoury beans. Her loose cannon streak, after all, has made the industry wary time and again. It is something that has superstar industry kids Alia Bhatt and Kareena Kapoor hastening to offer the olive branch after she slams them for allegedly not supporting Manikarnika.

Now that Ranaut’s closeness with the political high and mighty has only become too well known, Bollywood is further apprehensive. Not long ago, there were reports that she is among celebrities the BJP has zeroed in for an eventual political entry, along with Akshay Kumar, Preity Zinta and Raveena Tandon. When Kangana was trolled recently for a leaked clip of Manikarnika that showed her shooting a war scene on a mechanical horse, Paresh Rawal and Anupam Kher were among the first to come out in her defence. Not quite coincidentally, Rawal is a Lok Sabha MP for BJP, while Anupam Kher, whose wife Kirron also happens to represent BJP in the lower house, is an open sympathiser of the party.

Yet, every image eventually fades. Ranaut seems to be using her calling card as Bollywood’s Rebel Queen once too often. The image threatens to become a cliché now.

The next 12-odd months are crucial for Ranaut. Her upcoming films must reinvent the cliché, or bust it. Apart from Jayalalithaa’s biopic, she has Mental Hai Kya, an unusual psychological drama. Then there is her self-directed biopic, meant to take on B-Town head-on. Her other film is Panga. Although just a kabaddi flick, its title wittily sums up her career as a Bollywood outsider who thrives on trouble.

It’s not easy being a weird kid or a rebel, American rocker Andy Biersack once said. Ranaut arrived in Bollywood as a 16-year-old girl many deemed a weird misfit, but she grabbed immediate headlines. Today, she courts superstardom fashionably being the rebel, and makes all of it look quite easy, too.


Eye Of The Storm

Top controversies involving Kangana Ranaut over the years



Legal notices, apology demands, and lawsuit threats happen every now and then. Hrithik has denied an affair, Kangana called him a “silly ex”.



As a teenage struggler, she reportedly got involved with the much-older and married Pancholi, and filed a complaint stating he had assaulted her.



Shekhar Suman’s actor son claimed Kangana assaulted him while they were involved, and alleged she had even performed black magic to ruin his life.



She started the nepotism debate on Karan Johar’s talk show, Koffee With Karan, pointing at favouritism meted out to industry kids over outsiders.


Updated Date: Mar 29, 2019 14:02:42 IST