Kangana Ranaut is undoubtedly one of those who has made it big in the industry on her own, without any backing and has risen to the challenge and carved out a niche for herself. She is not only inspiring youngsters in India but also has become a global icon of sorts.
She has recently been invited to be a keynote and Inspire series speaker at Harvard Business School for India Conference 2018 held annually where topics, like Changing Entertainment Landscapes in India and ‘Disrupting the India Mainstream Cinema’, would be discussed. The theme of the conference this year is ‘Disrupting Innovations in India’.
The conference has a strong legacy of bringing together government officials, business leaders, academics, lawyers, artists, athletes, philanthropists and many other leaders to meaningfully discuss key issues, solutions, and opportunities in the context of India’s path to global leadership. In the past, India Conference has been host to prolific personalities like Amartya Sen, Omar Abdullah, Chanda Kochhar and P. Chidambaram to name a few.
In an interview with IANS, The quintessential heroine spoke about on and off screen priorities. “I have myself as the priority always. I do not subscribe to the theory that good girls don’t think about themselves and they are all for sacrifice. My life is my life and I want to make the most of it,” Kangana told IANS over the phone from Mumbai when asked about the learnings that she wants girls to draw from her life.
“I want to utilise my potential and see who I am. It’s not just about my brother, son, husband or my mother. Somewhere, I do not subscribe to the quintessential heroine, who is an ultimate Indian woman who puts everyone before her and she comes in the end for herself,” added the three-time National Award winner, who is also the brand ambassador of Reebok India.
In that capacity, she attended the second edition of the brand’s FitToFight Awards, which felicitated select women for their spirit and courage.
Coming from a small town in Himachal, Kangana made her debut in Bollywood with Gangster – A Love Story in 2006. Even though her style and accent were criticised initially, she made a mark with her strong performances in films like Fashion, Queen, Tanu Weds Manu and Tanu Weds Manu Returns.
Her next project is Manikarnika – The Queen of Jhansi, a biopic on Rani of Jhansi. Off-screen, she has been actively talking about her struggle in the industry — professionally and personally. So bold and fearless is the actress that she openly tagged filmmaker Karan Johar as a “flagbearer of nepotism” during his own chat show, sparking a debate in the industry.
It has been a challenge for her to face the bitter realities of society.“It was most definitely very challenging for me to come from a small town which anyway is not very tolerant to aspirational women, especially ambitious women. You are seen as a vamp if you are ambitious, if you want to make your own money or if you don’t want to be dependent.”
“Women who make their choices and who fight for their rights will always be the ones who will be seen as rebels,” she said.But she feels that “as long as you don’t think you are doing something wrong, it is absolutely fine”.
“I never judge myself for my instincts and for my fighting spirit,” she said. Nevertheless, she admits having a voice of their own for women is difficult even in the 21st century.
“It is very difficult. These medieval social norms are very convenient for them (some people), so women and men are going to be hassled by these.”
Talking about breaking the long societal norm that “girls don’t fight”, Kangana said, “A modern woman is not going to keep her mouth shut if she is taken for a ride or sexually harassed or if she is not given her salary. She is not going to keep quiet and that’s why these conventional forces, these old-school minds, these patriarchal or chauvinist people, are going to be bothered and hassled.”
And that is why she relates to the ‘FitToFight’ campaign. “I feel somewhere women are manipulated to believe that the so-called good girl doesn’t answer back, she doesn’t argue — everything which is against the spirit of survival… That has been instilled in a girl child. I feel that we have got to fight that demon which has been instilled in our conscience.”
“We have got to get rid of it because that is why many women succumb to social pressure. It is impossible for us not to strike back unless we give up on our lives, because when you are faced with the choice between survival and surrender, humanity has survived, and it is because of the fighting spirit.”