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Kangana Ranaut, who presents himself as Bollywood’s disruptor, takes on new role

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Written by Devyani Onial |

Updated: Sep 15, 2020 8:41:57 AM


Kangna Ranaut in Chandigarh in full security on September 9, 2020 (Express photo: Jasbir Malhi)

Three years ago, sitting on the most famous couch on Indian television, between one of the best producers in the film industry and an actor with a cut accent and distinguished lineage, when a young actor from a small hilltop district of Himachal defied the established order, the public cheered it on. When Kangana Ranaut appeared alongside Saif Ali Khan at Koffee with Karan, a show filled with insider jokes and nasty liners, and called her host Karan Johar the nepotism standard bearer, she stirred something in everyone. those who had made the trip from small towns to big cities, who had hesitated to join in offhand conversations with their awkward accents and who had pushed open the doors of privilege and entered only to find that they still weren’t not here.

She was not the first foreigner to enter an industry controlled by powerful families. Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, some of Bollywood’s biggest stars were foreigners, but as they recounted their struggle almost fondly, Ranaut showed his battle scars and resentment instead. She may have made it into the charmed circle, but she seemed to tell her guardians that the privilege was entirely theirs. Her impertinence reflected the rise of a new India, which was not afraid to speak its mind and was ready to abandon all political correctness by calling out its elites.

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A few years later, Ranaut reflects the rise of another India, a nation in perpetual indignation, a harshly boorish India that has little empathy for those on the fringes, that shouts out all dissenting voices, and that take the brawl from the streets to social media. . In her toxic campaign against Rhea Chakraborty following the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, Ranaut joined with the patriarchy she once defied. While the soap opera that airs on television presents Chakraborty as the vishkanya who practiced black magic, Ranaut has willingly assumed the role of the other righteous.

Ironically, there should have been no one better than her to understand Chakraborty’s vilification. In the very public revelation of her relationship with Hrithik Roshan, an ex had also accused her of black magic. But instead of recognizing the strands that connect the web of misogyny, she created another. Last week, calling actress Sonam Kapoor a mafia bimbo on Twitter, she berated Kapoor for likening her struggle to a little drug addict who lived off a vulnerable and broken superstar. We shouldn’t have been surprised, even though she has, in the recent past, dismissed her fellow actresses as B-grade and needy underdogs.

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In politics, she has often shown her admiration for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the man whose journey from popular politics to the country’s leader and whose withdrawal from Lutyens Delhi has often been compared to her own in the country. Film Industry. As she battles what she calls the Bollywood drug mafia and throws her weight behind the BJP, she has taken on the worst instincts and vocabulary of majoritarianism, calling on the BMC Baburs army for demolishing her office. and compared Mumbai with PoK. The exterior has now truly mastered the language of otherness, a dog whistle perhaps, for a possible political role.

In this brittle new role, where you could accuse her of playing too much, it’s easy to forget the young girl who, with a mop of rebellious curls in a uniform world of straight hair, made such a splash. We cheered her on when she took on the role of a struggling alcoholic in her first movie Gangster (2006) and followed her on a whirlwind solo honeymoon at Queen (2013). In her we found a woman who spoke about her vulnerabilities and exploitation. As in life, so in the movies, she made unconventional choices, winning many premieres and three national awards along the way. In an industry where the highest billing still goes to men, she was one of the few actresses who could direct a film on her own. Her success gave her a voice, but she increasingly used it only to intimidate others and to amplify her real and perceived hurts.

As she fights for the Modi government in Maharashtra, the transformation of Bollywood’s most powerful disruptor into the fiercest institutional warriors is complete. Ranaut could have become the standard bearer of a revolution in Bollywood. It’s a shame that she chose, instead, to become the symbol of a million meaningless mutinies.

This article first appeared in the print edition on September 15, 2020 under the title Establishments Warrior. [email protected]

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