Thursday, 26 May, 2022
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Rangoli Chandel — small town grit, no airs but a raging Right-wing bigot

It's easy to dismiss Rangoli Chandel as Bollywood star Kangana Ranaut's spokesperson or as her alter-ego or Twitter troll. But she is the sum of all these parts and more.

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She’s not an actor, a star, a cricketer or billionaire of any kind. Yet with every tweet or Instagram post, Rangoli Chandel, aka Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut’s elder sister, spokesperson and manager, makes headlines. Last week, she tweeted that India should do away with the 2024 Lok Sabha election to save funds and “let Modiji lead us for next term also”.  

Her most recent tweet, a vitriolic rant demanding to make “mullas + secular media stand in a line and shoot them dead”, created a furore. Several people, including actor Kubra Sait and filmmaker Reema Kagti, complained to Twitter, which then suspended her account – one that many industry insiders believe is really just Kangana’s who uses it under her sister’s name.

Kangana came out in defence of Rangoli, saying her sister didn’t call for “Muslim genocide” as was being alleged, and if she has, then both of them would publicly apologise. Kangana also appealed the Narendra Modi government to “demolish” platforms like Twitter where “one can call the home minister a terrorist but can’t call an actual terrorist a terrorist”, while asking the government to support “nationalists” like wrestler Babita Phogat, who is also facing criticism for an Islamophobic tweet.

But Rangoli’s popularity isn’t new. It remains a wonder, though, that a Bollywood star’s spokesperson and manager became a celebrity in her own right. So who exactly is Rangoli Chandel and why does she say the things she does?

Rangoli Chandel is a one-woman army. Not too many people have met her or know her in the film industry. It’s easy to dismiss her as a Kangana spokesperson or as her alter-ego or Twitter troll. But she is the sum of all these parts and more. In an industry that is all about name dropping and campy parties one gets invited to, the siblings represent true small town grit. But that’s where most people’s admiration ends. When it comes to bigotry, there are calls to de-platform her.

A filmmaker who doesn’t wish to be named told ThePrint that every “fascist, nationalist word” that comes out of Rangoli’s, and by extension Kangana’s, mouth comes from deep insecurity. “You see, when this industry, that is your workplace, has treated you like garbage — and they really treated Kangana very badly – then this kind of jingoism gives you a feeling of a higher purpose, a sense of doing something more important. And remember, the (Narendra) Modi government also targets the same elite, Western-educated, English-speaking crowd that has made fun of Kangana for years, so it gives Rangoli the perfect cover under which to fight Kangana’s battles as well.”

Also read: #SuspendBabitaPhogat trends on Twitter, but Commonwealth medallist says she won’t back down

Rangoli is a thorough professional, a dream to work with

Having grown up in the small town of Bhambla, just outside Manali in Himachal Pradesh, Rangoli Chandel and her family had a regular childhood. Her father was a businessman, her mother, a teacher. It was in 2006, when she was around 22 years old and studying engineering in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, that life changed forever. 

A man whose advances she had rejected threw acid on her. Rangoli has spoken about the 54 surgeries, and how it was Kangana, back then a 19-year-old model, who took on the responsibility of ensuring that she could afford the best medical care in India. Kangana took on roles she didn’t want on her CV and worked with people she didn’t want to, just to pay for Rangoli’s treatment. 

“But Rangoli never played the victim card,” said a former assistant director who worked on a film with Kangana in 2015 and prefers to remain anonymous. “Most Bollywood celebrity managers are a**holes, they really think they’re stars themselves, delaying the shoot because they are chit-chatting in the vanity van. But Rangoli was a thorough professional. She had no airs, never threw her weight around even though she wasn’t just a star’s manager but also her sister. You could have the frankest conversation with her. She never sat in the vanity van, there was no special food for her, she would eat with the rest of us crew members. People paint a negative picture of her, but she was more professional than any other manager I have dealt with – and extremely polite.” The former assistant director added that while Rangoli was not one to play pranks, and was usually working while on set, she was quick to laugh at jokes and had a good sense of humour. 

Also read: Shah Rukh, Aamir and Salman now starring in ‘Silence of the Khans’ under Modi rule

Life and Bollywood’s cruelty brought Kangana and Rangoli closer

But how does one reconcile this Rangoli with the one who spews such venom on social media? “Honestly, I can’t understand it,” said the former assistant director. “This is not the Rangoli I knew, but then, think of where these women have come from, how they have pulled themselves up from a terrible, life-altering situation (the acid attack) and then in an industry that has been so unkind to them.” 

It is true that Kangana has always been seen as an outsider. Even though she made her mark early on with films like Woh Lamhe and Fashion, it was only in 2014, with Queen, that she really made it big and began to be considered an A-lister. In 2015, she fired her PR team and put Rangoli in charge. 

The former assistant director said that it was probably around 2016 that Rangoli started gaining recognition. “Post Queen, Kangana became a big star, but she never wanted to be on social media with a personal account, so it was always a Team Kangana thing. Rangoli started tweeting on her behalf, interspersed with her own views, but it was with the Hrithik Roshan episode that things really blew up and Rangoli has been at the centre of that, even recently sharing a picture of herself with Hrithik, with a strange caption. Whatever the truth is, I genuinely don’t understand why Rangoli feels the need to keep bringing it up – maybe for closure or attention or simply the fact that she will, naturally, believe and support her sister, in her own twisted way.”

While agreeing that the Hindi film industry lacks sensitivity, the former assistant director said “people have to help themselves. An Alia (Bhatt) or a Taapsee (Pannu) have never done anything personally to Kangana, but the way Rangoli attacks them doesn’t do her or her sister any favours.” 

The assistant director also said that both Rangoli and Kangana could well be suffering from some kind of PTSD, but might not have the family support to seek therapy. “Her acid attack was a very traumatic event. Your entire worldview alters when something like that happens, it makes you cynical. Rangoli and Kangana have clearly been through major traumas, and this industry is not known for its empathy or sensitivity. Maybe all industries are like that, but this one comes with such glaring limelight and scrutiny, and the line between your public persona and real life is washed away, so you’re just that much more insecure.”

Also read: Is Indian media being unfair to Kangana Ranaut?

Industry, public divided on suspension

Twitter’s suspension of Rangoli’s account has divided India’s social media users. While some, like Kagti and Sait, applauded the micro-blogging site for blocking someone for hate speech and incitement to violence, others called it a muzzling of freedom of speech and expression. 

Writer Shefali Vaidya called out Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and certain Twitter India employees for “gagging the voice of an acid attack victim woman with a verified Twitter handle”; singer Sona Mohapatra tweeted that while she didn’t subscribe to all of Rangoli’s views, she supports her “right to express them”. “Let’s not be so ‘politically correct’ and quick to be offended, dear #WokeSabha”, Mohapatra added. When questioned about the hate speech aspect, Mohapatra said that she had not seen Rangoli’s “hideous tweet” and was of the view that “canceling her all together only invites more such hate.”

ThePrint also reached out to Hansal Mehta, who had directed Kangana in Simran, for a comment on Rangoli, but he declined, saying he wasn’t interested in speaking about her. He has, though, tweeted that she had been “a good friend in the past” but he disagreed with her views, adding that he wouldn’t rejoice in her Twitter ban because it was only temporary and Twitter “is always fair to true bhakts”.

Also read: Sonam Kapoor & Salman Khan to Alia Bhatt & Sridevi — worst & best of Bollywood this decade

India loves to hate Rangoli because she’s a woman

Chandal, chudail, the devil’s spawn, a horror, a monster. These are just some of the casteist slurs that people have used to describe Rangoli Chandel. Even liberal stand-up comedian Atul Khatri called her “bloody Chandaal”, and was later forced to delete the tweet after a barrage of criticism for using the name of a recognised Scheduled Caste group, Chandal, as an abusive slur. 

Industry insiders, while against Rangoli’s views and in favour of Twitter banning her account for inciting violence, said that the same treatment should also be meted out to others posting hateful and bigoted comments, but it won’t be because they are men.  

“There are so many male bhakts in the industry, tweeting such rubbish, like that Vivek Agnihotri,” says the former assistant director. “No one sidelines and singles them out, but Rangoli is attacked much more because she is a woman. Also, Vivek’s frankly inconsequential, and Kangana is not, which means Rangoli is not either.”

The filmmaker agrees. “That Rangoli’s views are unpalatable to me is without question,” he says, “but so many people, whether in the film industry or in politics, even MPs and MLAs, say equally terrible things. We saw it during the Delhi election as well. They simply don’t get the kind of horrific reactions that Rangoli does. No one uses gendered slurs for those men, but they do for Rangoli, and that tells you more about us as a country than it does about her.”

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  1. Both are certified fascist sympathizers, irony is to hire one’s sister and lecture the world on nepotism. Both needs psychological counseling.

  2. Good job Print. Having a disability/ trauma does not give you the right to say what you want. Nothing gives you the right to spread communal hatred and call for murdering people. We all know this isn’t Rangoli and infact Kangana masquerading as her sister anyways.

  3. Good job The print. You angered a lot of bhakts in the comment section. Means you must’ve done something right. A disability/trauma does not give you the right to say what you want and those who spread communal hate and bring shame to India need to be taught a lesson.

  4. Stupid Article !!! Expected from you & speaking of bigots gauri lankesh was one too…..she spoke of ethnic cleansing of brahmins in kerala but you guys celebrated her…to hell with your hypocrisy & this stupid news website of yours writing articles suiting your bloody Anti-India agenda

  5. Is this news?? R u serious?? There r two articles on this lady. I think lockdown has taken over these two journalists for writing this article n making it news
    Bohot velle ho lockdown mein pls thoda world new cover kar lo if you have so much time

  6. Twitter is encouraging anti India tweets by many pseudo intellectuals n seculars. High time to ban twitter from India. It will loose huge revenue then. Is freedom of expression one sided?

  7. This proves the narrow minded and uneducated people working for the print who forgot the leftist bigot who also forget 54 years of fascism and one-sided secularism by Congress. Leftist bigots call our police officers as terrorists. Why didn’t twitter suspend those celebrities? Twitter doesn’t suspend those accounts that openly talk about hindu genocide. It’s leftist bigot who are defending stone pelters. How can you justify casteist slurs. The print is defending a bunch of people who want an outbreak of Covid. How shameless are you? Fake liberals, extreme left and biased media has ruined this nation. Chamchas and aaptards always use the word bhakt. Nothing new.

  8. Don’t vilify or abuse a woman for speaking the truth. You have tendency to propagate false, one sided narratives, especially regarding the deviant and defiant behaviour of a particular community which accelerated the spread if corona virus wilfully. You have also been blocking my comments.

  9. The article is highly patronizing in its tone. There were many blue tick celebs including a much known Delhi journo who used castist slur against her. Why are they not called out? Are they not bigots? Have you seen how Kangana is humiliated by upstart trade journos, third rate comedians & paid trolls of men? Do you think that is spontaneous? Why does that not offend anyone? Does the author have any visibility into Bollywood where so called sanitized women (nice choice to cherry pick pannu & Bhatt) could actually be extremely vicious behind the scenes? The whole ecosystem is controlled by sore men who want to settle scores with women.

  10. Rangoli might be extreme in her views but the truth remains that doctors, nurses and policemen have been subjected to abuse and physical violence repeatedly by the Jamaatis and their relatives/friends. Even the most “secular” of media houses will have to agree that in many cases the medical personnel had to flee for their lives and many have been grievously injured by these mobs.
    Calling for stringent action against them is the right and correct thing to do.

  11. Lol that’s the print is supporting people who want to do acid attack on her and coming to Twitter it’s anti-hindu stance is well known

  12. Nice. So when a woman or man says something racist, hateful and nasty, do those views become more palatable after knowing that she went through a traumatic experience. Does Jack the Rippers killings become okay because we learn that his dad was abusive.

    There are many people who are sane, sensitive and good in spite of traumatic childhoods.

    While it is good to have a holistic view, let’s not be too lenient towards people who consistently spew our hate and vitriol, man or woman.

  13. Liberals having a hissy fit about people expressing genuine expressions of disgust at Tablighi scum..? Clearly, the kattwa can do no wrong …

  14. Congratulations! You’ve turned another person who has a counterview into a right wing bigot. Good for you naming and shaming someone who has already gone through so much in life. You are right, You think she shouldn’t have the air to speak? There are too many such people who are speaking out. How many wil you name and shame?

  15. Right wing bigot . Shekhar Gupta what a journalist on your payroll. A picture is sought to be created by your journalist a community is always under attack and another community is always portrayed as right wing bigot.

  16. Why is THE PRINT giving so much space to this lady? I think this is the second full article on her in last few days.

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