Kangna Ranaut has done it again. After a spectacular and refreshing performance in Queen last year, she’s hit a homerun with her dual role in Tanu Weds Manu Returns. Straightforward as ever and refusing to mince her words, Kangna has combined acting prowess with style to capture the spotlight. And in an extremely candid interview, she gives us insights into her life and struggles. Here are some thoughts from one of Bollywood’s few to take the road less travelled.
‘At first, my family dismissed my opinions’
One thing I don’t like about Indian parents is they don’t give importance to their children’s opinions. I come from a very traditional family where women are not allowed to eat before the men, so I understand the situation. I was always a rebel and decided to move out when I was barely 15. It didn’t matter how old you were, because even my older cousins would be dismissed at 23 or 24 years old. ‘Shut up, you don’t know,’ they would be told.
Children are not respected, and I don’t like that attitude. No matter how mature the views are, parents tend to dismiss rudely and curtly, which eventually hampers your confidence. I’ve never approved of such things. When I decided to leave home, no one supported me. My father didn’t speak to me for a long time and my grandfather didn’t want to even see my face.
‘But now their attitudes have changed’
Times are different. My parents think I have a mature perspective. They think I’m wise and give me equal opportunity to provide advice when it comes to family decisions. They discuss things with me, and I absolutely love that. I think it gradually happened only after I proved myself. My mother has short hair these days. My aunt got divorced because she loved someone else, and it was such a big thing for the family. One thing started a chain reaction across the entire family. People have started accepting things, and that makes me happy.
‘I spent my first pay on brownies’
I used to crave food when I didn’t have enough money to buy it. I’m saying I had no money to buy regular food, leave aside delicacies. I was doing a bit of modelling for Elite, and when I went to meetings and auditions at Café Coffee Day, I’d look at the brownies there. I’d tell myself that the day I got money, I’d buy those brownies. I got Rs. 1,000 as my first pay cheque and bought two or three brownies with that!
‘People thought I wouldn’t get a second chance’
I’ve taken many chances in my life, so it would be wrong to say I haven’t got opportunities, but even Queen was a film by chance. I never knew Vikas Bahl was thinking of me for Rani. People laughed when he told them he had me in mind.
‘I wasn’t your average overnight star’
Bollywood has its ups and downs, everyone will agree. There’s a conventional format that most newcomers and actors follow. Either you’re launched with a Khan and become an overnight star, regardless of your tendencies and talents, or you come from outside but have a mentor or godfather according to whose status you are tagged a star. Or if you’re a Miss World or Miss Universe, you get an easy break. But there are divisions even then. It depends on how heavy your crown is! (Laughs)
‘I don’t care about rank’
I neither know nor understand what people actually mean when they call me or Deepika the leading heroine of today. I don’t understand the ranking business. For me, it’s a new and different journey from here onwards. There will be new struggles.
‘Getting good work is not so tough anymore’
At one point, I was doing odd jobs to earn a living. I joined films, and as a newcomer you don’t have much to choose from. Getting a break is a huge thing, so there was no question of choice. That has definitely changed. The best gift Queen gave me was the ability and the authority to say ‘no’ to a project I don’t like.
‘I will always be an outsider’
No matter what I do, I will always be an outsider in Bollywood, and I can’t change that. But I don’t even want to. That’s reality, and people will have to come to terms with it.
‘I turned down The Dirty Picture’
People still call me stupid for losing out on it, but you win some and lose some. You had Balaji Motion Pictures and Milan Luthria, one of the most powerful producer-director pairings, doing The Dirty Picture. But I picked Tanu Weds Manu with a relatively new director in Anand L. Rai, who had a limited budget.
‘Tanu Weds Manu was the turning point’
I know most people consider Queen to be my breakthrough film, and the others pick something like Fashion or Metro. But I think Tanu Weds Manu was the turning point. I didn’t believe in the script because I thought someone like Tanu couldn’t exist, but Anand convinced me otherwise.
‘Today’s industry doesn’t criticise; it spits venom’
Criticism is good to a degree, but the industry tends to get very venomous. When I see things like Bombay Velvet not working and how people turned against the team, everyone was daggers and venom. I don’t like that at all. It’s one thing to give constructive criticism, but with this you’re just being plain nasty. People are too obnoxious these days.
‘I want to be known as a director’
I’ve always nurtured this desire to make films, so when I was busy doing the same roles, I decided to learn new things. I had to do those movies because they gave me good money, but I don’t regret it as they taught me new things. New avenues opened up, and I made my first short film. I do want to make a feature film someday. I won’t be an actor all my life. I have two scripts written, but let’s see.
‘I hate the mundane life’
Acting continuously can get boring. You shoot, you go home, you prep, you promote, you release, and you start over with another film. To me, that’s boring. I plan my year so that I can take small breaks and do something worthwhile, whether it’s a scriptwriting or editing course. I like taking small breaks from acting in movies.
Five Things About Kangna
• My greatest fear is losing my family.
• I directed a short film called The Touch while shooting for Rascals.
• I love people who are up-front and honest, and I don’t like people who wear masks.
• I believe people too easily. That’s my greatest weakness.
• In my head, I’m confident of where I am and where I want to be. That’s probably why I come across so strongly.