Consider this an open letter to Kangana Ranaut.
What happened to you? You went from being a brilliant actor to Twitter trolling. A woman with so much gumption, who exposed the rot of nepotism in Bollywood, and a feisty feminist became a blistering WhatsApp University spokesperson who is loud and prone to chest-thumping. You claim the world is at your feet. And you can summon the media in a snap (“a chutki,” you say). But do you understand that there’s a thin line between self-confidence and arrogance? You appear obnoxious, and think you can never do or say anything wrong. That has been the fall of many of India’s icons.
We stood up for you, and then you let us down.
Of course, you’ll say you don’t care what anyone thinks about you, but let’s get it straight, you care. You are constantly justifying yourself and seeking validation – like all of us. So, Karan Johar appears endlessly in your interviews. So does recaps of your recent spat with Diljit Dosanjh on your Twitter feed. Then you brand Taapsee Pannu and Swara Bhasker as ‘B-grade actors’. You call Ayushmann Khurrana ‘mediocre’. Ironically, all of these actors came from non-filmy families and made a name for themselves, on their own. Of course, you also call them suck-ups or ‘chaploos’ to ‘expose’ how they became successful.
But here’s the thing we don’t understand Kangana, how did this happen? How did Bollywood’s David become India’s Goliath?
Look in the mirror
Kangana Ranaut, you have turned into the very people you hate. Full of themselves and self-glorifying. When you say, “Main inki waat laga dungi”, do you not realise it is exactly what the ‘nepotism gang’ and the powers that be say? Petty revenge exacted on people because they didn’t comply with your way of thinking.
The funny part is, when you try and change an establishment, you be the change you want to see. But you’ve exactly become the monster you were fighting. Overbearing. Loud. Abject. Irreverent of anyone’s sentiments. And sure, you have thousands of people hailing you, but as history is witness, many wrong people have been hailed. The liberals hailed you once too for your sheer guts, for speaking truth to power. Today, you speak against them and pass snide remarks. The hypocrisy is for everyone to see.
When you disagreed with Pritish Nandy about ‘love jihad’, you called his writing ‘perverted’. Then you branded those supporting protesting farmers as ‘Tukde tukde gang’ and tossed around words like ‘Khalistani’. You called women ‘depressed and suicidal snowflake feminists’. This, from a woman who was shouting for justice for Sushant Singh Rajput who was mentally pushed to the edge.
And let me also introduce you to the reality of how un-Bharatiya you are. The ‘Akhand Bharat’ that you espouse is built on ancient ideas of ‘sanskaar’ and ‘karma’. Read your own religious texts – you’ll see that it talks of dignity, righteousness, respect and decorum. It was not founded on bullying and shaming others. You are miles away from being a true Bharatiya. A talk with Sadhguru, the Ducati-riding capitalist guru, doesn’t make you enlightened. Of course, that 2018 conversation also normalised mob lynching by calling it ‘real India’. But that’s beside the point. One doesn’t have to be wise to be well-mannered. And one doesn’t have to be arrogant to be a rebel.
I vote me
Everyone is asking the same question about you, Kangana. What next?
Playing Jayalalithaa in an upcoming movie must have made you surely think of your next possible inning – a politician. Because right now, you are boxing in the empty Bollywood arena. Raring to go, to pick the next fight.
Of course, Kangana, your political trajectory can go the Smriti Irani way, as many people are expecting. An immensely popular actor finding her way to the highest berths of the cabinet. But the comparison to Irani doesn’t stick. Smriti Irani is perhaps the most eloquent person that exists in the Bhartiya Janata Party today, after Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Sushma Swaraj, with a strong hold over what she speaks.
But as you know, in politics, you don’t need special expertise – lateral entry in any department will do. Perhaps that’s your dream. Of being a minister of different departments like Smriti Irani has been. You have time and again shown that you can give an opinion on anything, at a moment’s notice. But having a lot to say isn’t the same as talking sense. Ranaut talks a lot. Irani makes sense.
Kangana, you’ve painted the perfect picture of yourself as the unassuming heroine of this very public saga. You say you have taken on many a Goliaths – Bollywood mafia, Thackerays, media, liberals, pro-reservation lobby. But no David walks out of the airport with Y-plus security.
The author is a political observer and writer. Views are personal.