Though she has spent almost a decade in Bollywood, Kangana Ranaut was still finding her feet until last year’s runaway hit, Queen, put her on a pedestal. Then, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, another blockbuster featuring the actor, consolidated that position. Here, the 28-year-old actor, who feels she has become an easy target for people, opens up about her journey and challenges.
Now that you are one of the most sought-after Bollywood actors, do you see a change in the attitude of people, who might not have been as receptive in the past?
Yes, (there are) extreme changes. People, who would look through me earlier, are very tame and nice now. I guess that’s why people want to be successful, because you want life to be easier. But I have become a soft target for those who are a bit vicious, vindictive, and have a negative attitude in life… people who love to target others. They find their thrill from running people down. I need to get a place, where I feel comfortable, and not be an easy target for others. As a woman, I have been secure; I do my thing and don’t indulge in gossip. And I can say it proudly, because no one can point a finger at me for gossiping, flirting and having multiple affairs. My life is an open book.
How difficult is it to hold on to the kind of position you are at currently?
My struggle has been different so far. I thought I was prepared for anything in life, but I was so wrong. My struggle was mostly with myself, and I tried to do better (work). But, being in this position, and wherever I am today, I am forced to think, ‘how and why have I become a target?’ And people are using their resources to harm me, just so that I don’t come up (in life) or because my position is threatening them. I feel that there are many successful people who coexist [in various fields]. You don’t have to ruin others to feel successful.
But Bollywood is known for its cut-throat competition.
This kind of vicious trap — using bad PR, b****ing and attacking films you are doing — that people lay for you is something I never anticipated. I don’t think I am ready for this kind of cut-throat competition. So far, I have only indulged in healthy competition. I won’t be part of such ugly competition. Though people are dragging me into it, I am going to hold my ground. I won’t stoop to such a level.
Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about you getting a `11 crore pay cheque.
If I am demanding a certain amount today, I feel people should be proud of me since I literally came from nowhere. Also, I am probably the only ‘top’ actress to have been a part of B-grade films. So, there are people who are proud of me, but there are also a few contemporaries who are venomous and negative.
Has it been demoralising?
I have been around for 10 years, and I have been happy for everyone and their success. I drew inspiration from them. But now, why does it seem like they are ganging up against me. I fail to understand this. People are using their resources and time to malign me, and are planting damaging stories (about me in the media). Not just that, they are going to the extent of messaging directors and producers of my projects, which are about to go on the floors, and offering to work (for them) for free. I am speechless. This kind of attitude is unhealthy.
From the looks of it, you seem to be playing a different role in your next in comparison to what you usually do.
It has been intense, but Payal (her character in her next) is a little like me. I also started at a young age, and I was taken for a ride many times, especially when I entered Bollywood. I was naïve and I later developed a kind of ‘don’t-mess-with-me’ facade. So, on a personal level, I can relate to her. I somewhere feel that independent women tend to develop such an attitude because they don’t want to come across as weak or vulnerable, and fall prey to people.