I Wrote Off Kangana Ranaut. She's Proved Me And Many Others Utterly Wrong.

Published: May 07, 2016 19:09 IST
Kangana Ranaut. What a girl. 

And before the haters or 'camp'ers or fans of any of the players leap up in protest, let me clarify: I am not referring to the Hrithik Roshan did-they-didn't-they-who-said-what-now-Adhyayan-whatshisface-has-something-to-say-and-oh-by-the-way-those-photos-might-be-fake imbroglio. 

I have no idea what happened, what will happen - and for the moment, I do not care. All I know is that a few days ago, Kangana Ranaut in a compelling interview with Barkha Dutt on NDTV said a bunch of truly terrific things. Yes, she was referring to the current saga playing around her, but she didn't have much to say about her "silly ex" or indeed anyone else. She talked mostly about herself. 
And what she said was that she will not be shamed. She had said it before, when the first murmurs around the pictures she may or may not have sent to the account that may or may not be Hrithik's were circulated. "I am not ashamed of anything, not my past, not my affairs, not my body and most definitely not my desire. So 'slut-shaming' won't work either."

The relief: no coy denials, no crying morphed or hacked, just a reiteration that the choice, any choice, is her's to make. And if she made it, she won't be sorry for it. It said that she is free to sexually pursue someone if she wants, she is free to celebrate her body as she chooses, and to share it as she pleases. Them be fighting, fantastic words. 
In her interview the night she collected her third National Award, she went one further. No, several further.

"These are 1000-year old weapons still used against women when they are jealous of a woman's success...if she's crazily successful, she becomes a psychopath, and if a woman is sexually active, she becomes a whore. It doesn't upset me also because I'm an artist and I've really, very closely researched people who deal with mental illnesses. I don't find anything upsetting or gross or degrading about fighting with a mental illness: Bipolar or Schizophrenia. And I don't see anything humiliating when they call me a psychopath/witch/whore. I've also played a whore on screen and my interaction with prostitutes has allowed me to extremely empathetic to them. And it doesn't work on me."

Now there are two crucial things in that. One, she is saying she will not be shouted down. She will not be humiliated. She will not be cowed or shamed into empty diplomacy, insincere denials or a forced silence. Two, she is also saying: how dare you? How dare anyone use mental health sufferers as a pejorative. How dare they assume that calling her a whore is a bad thing? It's a nuanced, vital, important stand and one, frankly, that's long overdue. 

She talked about menstrual blood - because ex Adhyayan Suman had alleged that she made him drink it. "It doesn't upset me when people call me names and talk about my period blood - but just don't call it gross. Because there is nothing gross about period blood. When we think about periods, it's my ability to reproduce, it's my ability to give birth. If there's nothing gross about a man's body fluids, then there is nothing mysterious or evil about women's body fluids either."
Perhaps we should introduce her to Donald Trump. 

I confess that I, too, was guilty of writing Kangana off when she joined the industry. I was covering entertainment and while I thought her unusually pretty, I essentially dismissed her. I thought she was silly, fly by night, a little tacky, someone who might be willing to cross lines to climb rungs. And there the fault is mine.   

What she has reminded me, so beautifully, is that it doesn't matter - what I thought, and whether or not she did. The point she makes is that if she did, if she was, as long as the choice was her's, as long as no party was forced, it shouldn't matter to anyone. She owns every bit of her past, every bad decision, every bad relationship and there's a lesson there for us (me) too. 

A lot of it lies in the fact that the last laugh belongs to her: "Success is the best revenge. I always feel women should answer back either with their sarcasm or success."

She's done both, and with the kind of style it takes to pull off wearing a strapless gown in front of the President of India, rather than the conventional celebrated sari. That's well-played all across the board. And yes, since she's owned all the slurs that have been thrown at her, perhaps we'll end with a throwback to the Eagles, who famously sang about a witchy woman. And they were onto something since they just asked us to see how high she flies. 

(Aneesha Baig is NDTV's Lifestyle Editor and Anchor, Will Travel For Food)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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