Kangana Ranaut
Kangana Ranaut

Every once in a while comes someone who may seem to be just another actor, but is somehow different. Yes, Kangana Ranaut is different.

The years of ridicule (even for her lack in fluency in English in a world where Hindi and Urdu should actually be paramount!) have made Kangana build an aura of armoured steel around her. Originally prone to do too many neurotic roles, like in her 2006 debut Gangster, Woh Lamhe…, Life In A…Metro and Fashion (a National award for Best Supporting Actress), she even tried her hand at typical leads like Raaz-The Mystery Continues and Kites.

Double Dhamaal, Tanu Weds Manu and later Rascals, all in the same year 2011, heralded an actress who could effortlessly shine in what is universally considered the toughest shade of acting—comedy. And from here, even more than before, Kangana began exploring acting.

She thus switched lanes to Kangana-centric movies, not necessarily big-budgeted ones. If Krrish 3 saw her as a mutant, Rajjo saw her play a sex worker. Says Kangana, “In the sense of conforming, people have given up on me! So I am free to do films of different kinds!”

After Rakesh Roshan in Krrish 3, the next gifted director she got (in a list including Anurag Basu, Mohit Suri, Milan Luthria, Sanjay Gupta and Priyadarshan) was Vikas Bahl, who had co-directed Chillar Party. And she was shocked when Vikas sought her for the submissive role of Rani in Queen after watching Krrish 3! When Kangana asked what made him think of her, he replied, “Because I am convinced you can do it!”

It was after Queen that the actress was taken seriously at last. “People actually told me they were happy that I got a second chance!” she laughs. “I mean—where had I gone?”

This change in perception and the flip-flop in people’s views have now made her a trifle scared of success. The Kangana of 2015 is smarter, more voluble and confident, but still a shade wary of praise. But professionally she sure knows what she wants—and always did. Offered yet another character who turns neurotic later (in The Dirty Picture) after Once Upon…, she nixed it to accept Tanu Weds Manu, a rom-com, with a debut-making director. While Queen was being made, she signed the small Revolver Rani.

Her role and the script being everything (not even the director and banner), her heroes have thus included the likes of Paras Arora (Rajjo), Vir Das (Revolver Rani) and Chirag Paswan (Miley Na Miley Hum). But the A-list names never figured in her list, but for, coincidentally as the roles were also good, Ajay Devgn and Hrithik Roshan.

And now, with Kangana getting her first National award for Best Actress for Queen in the same month as Tanu Weds Manu Returns has released, Kangana has shown that her apparently eclectic choices are all a part of a definite goal. She is doing only Nikhil Advani’s Katti Batti with Imran Khan at the moment. It is not a female-centric film, but—you guessed it!—a script that excites her!

But our wish is that Kangana’s name be taken in the same breath as the big stars who are also actors extraordinaire – her good friend Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone. And for that, she must now choose movies that can take her there. In short, Kangana must look at films that, like Queen and the Tanu franchise, have scripts that are exciting not only for her but also for the audience.

– Rajiv Vijayakar, a Senior Journalist, Film & Music Critic and Historian for Hindi cinema and Film Music is also an Author and Twice Jury Member at 58th and 62nd National Film Awards.

Rajiv Vijayakar tweets @rajivvijayakar

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