Name a female protagonist in India who has won the most coveted National Award for acting a whopping three times in the last ten years? How often do we see Bollywood actresses who are free spirited and honest in expressing their opinions on topics varying from cinema to feminism? If we are looking for a single answer to both questions, it is none other than the dashing and exuberant Kangana Ranaut.
The latest buzz in Bollywood is the way Kangana Ranaut owned Karan Johar (Kjo) in her interview with him on the Koffee with Karan chat show broadcast on the 19th of February.
The show started with Kjo saying: “This is an unapologetically frivolous show. And you always make a lot of sense in all your interviews. I am a bit nervous of what you will make out of it.”
Kangana’s defiant reply: “We are going to give the show some dignity.”
Karan commended Kangana for her back-to-back National Award wins, confessing that he had initially thought Kangana had no future in Bollywood after the movie ‘Gangster’.
Kangana countered: “You have been a driving force in my life. If it wasn’t for all the rejections, the mocking – you made fun of my English on this couch. I am not complaining but somewhere these things drive you.”
In the rapid fire round, Kjo asked who has given her more unnecessary attitude, female co-stars or male co-stars.
“I thank you Karan,” said Kangana, later adding: “In my biopic, if ever it’s made, you’ll play that stereotypical Bollywood biggie who is like, you know, very snooty and completely intolerant towards outsiders, flag bearer of nepotism, the movie mafia.”
The banter did not end there. Karan attended an event at the London School of Economics where he was questioned about Kangana’s accusations of nepotism. Karan side-stepped: “She was my guest and I had to hear what she had to say. She has a right to have an opinion. When she says ‘Flag bearer of Nepotism’, I just want to say her, I am glad she knows what it all means. I don’t think she has understood the entire meaning of the term. What is nepotism? Am I working with my nieces, nephews, daughters, cousins? And what about those fifteen filmmakers, who are not from the film industry, who I have launched and who did the movies. That we’re not going to talk about! Tarun Mansukhani, Puneet Malhotra, Shakun Batra, Shashank Khaitan – they all come from no film background. You give these people film careers and they have a platform to stand on and that’s the reverse of nepotism.”
Karan again: “I’m done with Kangana playing the woman and victim card. I am done! You cannot be this victim every time and have a sad story to tell about how you’ve been terrorized by the bad world of the industry. Leave it.”
In response, Kangana lashed out during another interview, declaring: “Why is Karan Johar trying to shame a woman for being a woman? What is this about the ‘woman card’ and the ‘victim card’? This kind of talk is demeaning to all women, particularly the vulnerable because they are the ones who really need to use them. I use every card possible. At the workplace, it’s the badass card to fight cutthroat competition. With my family and loved ones, it’s the love card. When fighting the world, it’s the dignity card, and for a seat on a bus, it’s the woman card. What is important to understand is that we are not fighting people, we are fighting a mentality. I am not fighting Karan Johar, I am fighting male chauvinism. Now that Karan is the father of a little daughter, he should provide her with all these cards – the ‘woman card’ and the ‘victim card’, as also the ‘self-made-independent-woman card’, and the ‘badass card’ that I flashed on his show. We will use whatever we need to ensure no one rocks our boat. The industry belongs to every Indian and is highly recommended for outsiders like me whose parents were too poor to give me a formal training. I learned on the job and got paid for it, using the money to educate myself in New York. He is nobody to tell me to leave it. I’m definitely not going anywhere, Mr. Johar.”
Will Karan contest Kangana’s remarks? Will this war of words ever end? We wait and watch.