GIRL POWER! KANGANA AND ASHWINY
Cosmopolitan India|December 2019
AHEAD OF THEIR BIG RELEASE—PANGA—IN JANUARY 2020, COSMO GOT THE WINNING DUO OF ACTOR KANGANA RANAUT AND WRITER-DIRECTOR ASHWINY IYER TIWARI IN THE SAME FRAME. FLIP THROUGH TO READ COSMO ED NANDINI BHALLA’S HEARTFELT CHAT WITH THE ACTOR ON LOVE, WHO THE REAL ‘KANGANA’ IS, LESSONS SHE’S LEARNT, AND WHAT 2020 HOLDS FOR HER. PLUS, ASHWINY REVEALS HOW SHE GOT INTO FILMMAKING, ON TEAMING UP WITH LIKE-MINDED WOMEN, AND WHAT IT WAS LIKE WORKING ON PANGA, WITH ITS BRILLIANT, FEMALE-DOMINATED CAST.
NANDINI BHALLA

The Last time I Met Kangana Ranaut, it was on the French Riviera, where she had just finished walking the 71st Cannes Film Festival red carpet. It was her debut appearance, the stakes were high, and Kangana was committed to the sartorial cause—strolling out of the opulent Hotel Martinez at lunchtime in a black Sabyasachi sari and retro bouffant, then a heavily embellished Nedret Taciroglu jumpsuit on the red carpet, which made an easy impact amongst the vast sea of flossy gowns.

The Cosmo India team and I were there to photograph Kangana for our cover.

And, truth be told, we were not entirely sure what to expect.

The months before had seen the National Film Award winner in the centre of many a storm. There was the very bitter, very public feud with actor Hrithik Roshan. Then news channels began flashing bizarre accusations of Kangana practicing witchcraft on ex-boyfriend Adhyayan Suman. Followed by an ugly blame-game that broke out between Kangana and director Karan Johar when she accused him of being “the flag-bearer of nepotism”.

Kangana had acquired herself a reputation for being ‘fierce’, ‘feminist’, and ‘outspoken’. But also ‘difficult’ and ‘combative’.

What we weren’t expecting was the warmth that Kangana brings with her. And a certain childlike innocence that makes you want to hug her. She rummaged through the outfit line-up and shook her curly head in delight at the rack of clothes waiting for her. The photoshoot itself was one of our most effortless yet—Kangana was friendly, pleasant, and eager to do the extra it sometimes takes to create the perfect photographs. Later, we spoke at length about her childhood (challenging), her views on feminism (on point), and the concept of women supporting women (she’s a big believer). Her thoughts were crystal, her views high-minded. And I remember thinking, even before our interview was over, that this woman was one of the most authentic celebrities I had ever met. A little vulnerable, a lot undaunted, and highly likeable.

And so, when I sit down to interview Kangana this time round, I am truly looking forward to it. There has been some new turbulence in her life—a brawl with a journalist at a press conference and an ongoing defamation case filed by Kangana against actor Aditya Pancholi. But if any of this is bothering her, she doesn’t let on. Our coverstar was in a cheerful mood, and excited to be photographed with Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, director of the Kangana-starrer, Panga. Hugs out of the way, she settled down to answer my questions...

Nandini: Many see you as India’s most outspoken celebrity. Were you always so candid?

Kangana: “People say I’m outspoken or blunt, but I don’t really see myself like that. I’ve just always been this way. I see myself as someone who is plain-spoken. I am what I am, and what you see is what you get. This is something I live by, and I also like people who are like that. I do not like people who ‘dress’ things up, you know? Like, they want to say one thing, but they’ll cover it up in a way to create an illusion. At times, people are taken aback by my reactions but, to be honest, I am the one who is taken aback by their reactions because I’m only just stating the obvious and I don’t understand why that would shock anyone. I’m not comfortable with that and when I see others are not comfortable with my honesty, it just becomes very weird. There have been some crazy reactions to some of the things I’ve said, but I don’t think I’ve ever crossed a line. And I don’t think I’ve ever tried to mislead people by painting a wrong picture or by being dishonest.

And while I might be upfront about my views, I am careful, too. If I think my words could hurt someone or that it might not be the right time to say something, I will refrain from it. It’s not like I’m this wild woman on the loose, you know, and that I don’t realise what I say or do. I am very much in charge, and when I do say something, I do it deliberately. I really want people to know that my words or comments don’t just happen on their own. I say things because someone needs take notice of themselves and what they are doing and how I’m feeling about it.”

N: Do the people around you ever ask you to change? Advice you to hold back your opinions, or not say this or that?

K: “Yeah, all the time. You would have noticed that I’ve never really hired a PR agency to run my life. Even my current PR manager, Neha...she used to be my manager, and then she got married and I asked if she would like work from home and manage my public relations. So she basically organises interviews for me, but it’s not like I have a professional PR agency or anything because I get so much gyaan from those people. Whenever anyone comes on board and they say we need to change this about you, I’m like, ‘You’re fired!’. Why should I hire you and then let you change me? I’m the one hiring you, you should change yourself!!”

N: Have you learnt any big lessons over the last couple of years?”

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