From Bollywood disruptor to politics: actor Kangana Ranaut gears up for new innings in LS

The 37-year-old, who was also sued for defamation by industry veteran Javed Akhtar, is known as much for her acerbic comments as for her films

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  6 Jun 2024 12:20 PM GMT
From Bollywood disruptor to politics: actor Kangana Ranaut gears up for new innings in LS

New Delhi: She sparked a debate on nepotism in Bollywood, was given security when she compared the Maharashtra government to PoK and was banned from Twitter for comments on violence in West Bengal. Unabashedly political and outspoken, actor Kangana Ranaut is now headed for Parliament as the BJP’s MP from Mandi.

The 37-year-old, who was also sued for defamation by industry veteran Javed Akhtar, is known as much for her acerbic comments as for her films. The showbiz celeb making headlines, and not just in entertainment pages.

As she makes her political debut, Ranaut, who defeated the Congress’ Vikramaditya Singh by 74,755 votes from her home state Himachal Pradesh, will be the cynosure of many an eye in the Lok Sabha.

Will she be like some of her colleagues and be quiet in the lower house or keep to her reputation of speaking her mind?

If her track record is anything to go by, it will be the latter.

On Tuesday, when trends indicated she was going to win her election, the four-time National Award winner said, "Heartfelt gratitude to all the people of Mandi for this love and trust... This victory belongs to all of you, this is the victory of your trust in Prime Minister Modi and BJP, this is the victory of Sanatan and in the honour of Mandi."

Soon after, she said, "Mandi ki sansad."

The “Queen” star was not the only actor seeking votes. Along with her were fellow BJP debutant "Ramayan" star Arun Govil, elected from Meerut, two-time Mathura MP Hema Malini, and TMC’s candidate Shatrughan Sinha from Asansol.

However, Ranaut was certainly the most talked about contender among them, running her entire campaign on being the daughter of the soil. She also gained public sympathy due to derogatory comments from opposition leaders for her acting background and the name of her constituency.

In an industry where actors mostly conceal their political affiliations, Ranaut was among the handful of Hindi cinema stars to openly extend support to the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling herself a fan of the leader.

Always vocal in the media and on social platforms, Ranaut was a high profile, prominent voice supporting the ruling party on issues like the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in 2019-20 and farmers' protests in 2020-21. Her Twitter run-in with Diljit Dosanjh is now part of public discourse.

Akhtar filed a defamation case against Ranaut over her remarks that he had threatened her. The case is still in court.

After she compared the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, led by Uddhav Thackeray, to PoK, the actor saw her Mumbai office being demolished by the BMC. This became a major flashpoint between the state and Centre back in September 2020. Soon after, she was provided Y+ grade security by the Union Home ministry.

The following year in 2021, she was banned from Twitter following her comments on post post poll violence in West Bengal. Unfazed, she switched to Instagram, where she continued to make headlines for her political opinions.

Ranaut is back on the microblogging site.

She has won the National Award an enviable four times -- best supporting for "Fashion", best actor for "Queen", "Tanu Weds Manu Returns" and the third for her roles in "Manikarnika" and "Panga".

Ranaut, who was also named a Padma Shri recipient in 2020, was all of 17 when she made her Bollywood debut in 2006 with Anurag Basu's "Gangster" opposite Emraan Hashmi. It was a critical and commercial hit that made everyone take notice of the fresh-faced newcomer, who seemed different from the quintessential Bollywood heroines of the time with her curly hair and the propensity to speak her mind.

The actor proved that she was not a fluke by continuing to deliver solid performances in "Woh Lamhe...", "Life in a... Metro" and "Fashion", where she played a supermodel on a downhill track.

She was also praised for her small stint in "Once Upon a Time in Mumbai" and cemented her position in the industry as a leading lady with her role in "Tanu Weds Manu", a sleeper hit of 2011.

This was followed by a period of struggle and her brief role "Krrish 3" did not do much for her career, which by then seemed to be on a decline.

It was 2014's "Queen" that re-established the brand Ranaut in Bollywood. The film on a runaway bride who rediscovers herself made her a bona fide star in the industry, mostly ruled by male stars. In "Tanu Weds Manu Returns", the actor played a double role and was widely praised for her acting chops.

Ranaut was hailed for her views on feminism, the industry and how she worked on herself to become a better performer. Chat show hosts seemed impressed by her outspokenness on thorny issues in the industry.

In 2015, Ranaut said she was treated badly when she was struggling in the industry.

"What happens is a heroine is always dependent on the producer or the hero so no one thought what if someone becomes Kangana Ranaut and then she will never work with me as producer or actor. They should have some shame before they treat women badly. They assume 'Kya karegi?' She is just a girl'," the actor had told PTI in an interview.

In an appearance on Karan Johar's celebrity chat show "Koffee With Karan" in 2017, Ranaut shocked everyone, including the host, by calling him the "flag bearer of nepotism".

That was the beginning of a long fight between the two and a public discourse around how star children make it difficult for outsiders to excel in an industry full of camps. She also raised the issue after the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput in 2020.

It was not the only controversy Ranaut was battling at the time.

Her battle with "Krrish 3" and "Kites" co-star Hrithik Roshan soon became fodder for tabloids. Ranaut accused the actor of denying their relationship while Roshan maintained that he had no personal connection ever with the actor.

Controversies seemed to follow the actor everywhere. She started producing her own movies eventually, including the biopic "Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi" in 2019. The film generated controversy after Ranaut claimed a co-director credit on the movie from Krish Jagarlamudi. That caused a major rift between them.

A similar controversy followed her on Hansal Mehta's "Simran" where she was given co-writing credits and screenwriter Apurva Asrani took umbrage and distanced himself from the movie, which turned out to be flop.

She also ventured into the South by starring in J Jayalalitha's biopic "Thalaivii".

While she has been in the headlines, Ranaut's last release "Tejas" didn't do well at the box office.

The actor in a media interview has already spoken about her desire to focus completely on her political career if she is elected from Mandi.

Next up for the debutant MP is her upcoming directorial venture “Emergency” where she plays former prime minister Indira Gandhi. The release was deferred because of the elections.

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