Kangana Ranaut Has Officially Taken The Nepotism-Outsider Debate Too Far

All of Ranaut's activism for the 'outsider' seems to be from a place of self-preservation. It's alarming to watch her fan the flames of polarisation.

In another grave attack on the collective intellect of the ‘nation that seemingly constantly wants to know’, Kangana Ranaut joined Arnab Goswami for an ‘expose’. Appearing on Republic TV’s primetime show, Ranaut (once again!) simmered with anger over how everyone had ‘wronged’ her. Yes, everyone. Since Sushant Singh Rajput’s unfortunate death around a month ago, Ranaut has launched into more than one tirade about how Rajput was repeatedly made to feel like an ‘outsider’, just like her, and became the cop, judge and jury rolled into one to let the audience know who was to blame.

Ranaut has been a complicated, and yet, a fascinating entity within the realm of Hindi cinema. Much like Rajput, Ranaut came from nowhere, side-stepped a million trappings between her and cross-country stardom. She appeared to be a non-conformist, a trailblazer finding fame and success on her own terms. We cheered, didn’t we? And then the whole ‘scandal’ about her alleged affair with Hrithik Roshan came out, and it was dirty laundry in all directions. We stood by her, because we sensed she must be feeling cornered by the malicious gossip about her ‘spiralling mental health’ and her ‘unconventional’ relationships.

However, only a few years later we would witness a Kangana who labelled reporters who asked questions she didn’t like, ‘termites’. People who didn’t like her films, from Manikarnika to Judgementall Hai Kya and Panga, including the audience, were derided. As the box office returns no longer reflected the popularity she enjoyed during Queen and Tanu Weds Manu Returns, her attacks became more and more caustic. From Ranbir Kapoor to Alia Bhatt to Karan Johar: the whole A-list clique has been labelled ‘mafia’. Her opinions lately, provided freely and frequently, have sadly consistently hit below the belt.

This hour-long interview with Arnab Goswami didn’t catch her in a different mood. While gunning for everyone remotely associated with Hindi cinema, Ranaut even went so far as to call Swara Bhasker and Taapsee Pannu as ‘B-grade’ actors, accusing them of siding with the ‘oppressors’. Especially Pannu, who has carved a similar niche for herself in the firebrand female-oriented films that used to be Ranaut’s domain. While Bhasker laughed the comments off in a tweet, Pannu composed a calm response.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, Pannu said, “…first of all I don’t think my existence has got anything to do with looks primarily. And, I have had my share of struggles and just because I don’t glorify them and deal with them with a positive outlook, doesn’t make me any less of the ‘outsider’. Kangana has the right to have an opinion and so do I. And just because my opinion doesn’t match hers, doesn’t make me inferior. Yes, I’ve been dropped from films and replaced with star kids but the fact that Kangana and her sister (Rangoli Chandel) try to discredit me and my hard work, call me names, put wrong allegations on me, is actually an equal level of harassment. All this because I refuse to sing her tune and because I refuse to see her as the flag bearer of outsiders because we all are not bitter people? I refuse to be bitter. I refuse to take advantage of someone’s death for personal vendetta and I refuse to make mockery out of the industry that gave me bread and identity.”

All of Ranaut’s activism for the ‘outsider’ seems to be from a place of self-preservation. It is alarming then, to watch her fan the flames of polarisation, so she could be, as Pannu calls it, the ‘flag-bearer of the outsiders’. This isn’t to say that Bollywood is not an unfair place, and that privilege, looks and class doesn’t plays a big role in deciding one’s career. There is obviously the arm-twisting, the camps, the rumours, that Ranaut keeps touching upon. But that can hardly be solved by belittling every single person who has ever disagreed with you on primetime TV, can it?