Since the beginning of time, history has always sided with the oppressed. Surely, the conservatives may have ruled time and again, but it is the liberals who ultimately contributed towards the framing of the history. It is for this exact reason that we know that colonialism was bad, slavery was cruel, Hitler was wrong and women needed to be emancipated.
What Kangana Ranaut is doing today is nothing short of a spectacle (not at all using the word in any negative sense). She is using her position to address some of the most pressing issues that have eaten into one of the most popular industries in India. The film industry has a reach that can rarely be matched by any such entity. From rural to urban, from north to south and from old to young, the pervasive nature of the film industry, adds to it an unequivocal value which provides a basis for a plethora of studies.
Nepotism needs to be addressed, discussed and duly castigated. But that rarely happens. Take the examples of the biggest corporations or industries, nepotism looms over each, like a grey cloud in the months of monsoon. The fact that potential and caliber must precede blood-line and favoritism has little to no sense in the business world. However, one can argue that change is happening. India’s growing disregard to dynastic politics on the state and the national levels is a welcome addition to this debate on nepotism.
Kangana Ranaut is making a dent in Bollywood, and she is doing it with utmost panache. I personally feel that it is below the dignity of the media and any individual, to address any issue related to the personal relationship that she and Hrithik Roshan maintained – and frankly, I don’t care what happened between them, and neither should anyone else. It was certainly one of the most sensational pieces of news to come out of Bollywood in decades, and the media got a massive kick out of it.
I refuse to believe that Kangana is the one who keeps bringing the issue up, as I am familiar with two particular interviews – one with Rajeev Masand for News18 and the other with Anupama Chopra for her YouTube channel Film Companion – during the promotions of “Simran”, which will confidently support my claim.
While Masand brought the issue up, leading to a resurgence of interest in the dying topic, Chopra, on the other hand, declared in the beginning of the interview that she won’t mention the issue and remained discreet. Chopra’s interview was a fantastic discussion on filmmaking and acting, while Masand’s one went down a path that tarnished the quality of the interview and the ethics involved in it. What is happening in this incessant intrusion into the privacy of an individual (or two) is that the important message that Kangana is trying to deliver is getting dissolved in the cacophony.
But hasn’t that always been the case? Rekha also led a similar kind of life. Historians will term it as controversial, unconventional and perhaps bold. Liberals see Rekha as a trendsetter, history denotes her as daring, and Bollywood bestows her with the title of ‘Legend’ – the same people who decades earlier called her a home-wrecker, husband killer and what not. Her life, which was once denounced by media and the Bollywood fraternity, is now celebrated for its courageousness. No matter what you do, women will always be judged on their worst (subjective though it may be), until a time comes when those same ‘worst’ becomes a trend for the succeeding generation.
Kangana is in the eye of the storm right now and the dent that she has been able to create rippled all the way to the top. The reaction of those who are a direct product of nepotism in the industry shows that she has been able to succeed in making a point. And let’s not pigeonhole her accomplishments to just the issue of nepotism; elitism, sexism and ageism in the industry have also things that she has called out from her platform.
Without any support or help from Bollywood, what she did is nothing short of remarkable. The recent Bollywood Diva Song in collaboration with AIB has been able to make her stand clear to audiences. It was a voice that needed to be heard and she couldn’t have delivered it in any better form.
Art is something that lives on through generations, even though gossip might die. In the long run, like many before her, Kangana will be remembered for her boldness, her bravery and certainly as a feminist icon in the industry – apart from being a fantastic actress on her own terms. Her contributions in opening a dialogue, that inadvertently inured everyone to talking about things that are usually being brushed under the carpet, must be appreciated, if not applauded. ‘History’ will judge her kindly.