Queen of hearts

Queen of hearts

Queen of hearts

After her stunning performance in ‘Queen’, actress Kangana Ranaut has become a force to be reckoned with in Bollywood. Rajiv Vijayakar talks to the actress about her evolution as an artiste and the new-found recognition...

She has been the title-role player and the only stellar attraction of the only ‘clean’ (as in completely unambiguous) hit of the first quarter of 2014 — Queen, and that gave her latest release, Revolver Rani, a bit of an advantage in business over the other releases of last week.

But whatever the fate of Revolver Rani, Kangana Ranaut is here to stay. This is her success phase, where she can hope for better projects and roles and not be subservient to the big-name male stars.

When we meet up at her photo-shoot at Mumbai two days before the release of her new film, the svelte Kangana is wearing a smart designer outfit that is at odds with her role of Alka Gujjar in Revolver Rani. As her countenance splits wide with frequent smiles and a tinkling laugh or two, we fathom that success does impart an internal glow on a star — gone is the apprehensive, almost calculating reserve we saw on the eve of the release of her Krrish 3 last year, for which she ended up getting the maximum applause next to Rakesh Roshan and Hrithik Roshan.

On a new high

How does she view things post-Queen? “Well, I am the same person,” she says reasonably. Her slightly accented English comes to the fore as she adds, “Yeah, success does change a few things — like people’s perception of you. Associates reach out differently to you. But these responses are secondary. What is special is the love you get from audiences. That response is satisfying. But obviously, no one knew that Queen would do so much for me!”

Does she think that the doors will now open to bigger films and A-list heroes? “Why should that be important?” she demands to know. “I would rather do title-roles or principal characters. Like Revolver Rani, a dark film about my character. She’s so different, neurotic and twisted, but vulnerable. I do not know if mera faaydaa hoga ki nuksaan (whether I will gain or lose from it), but it excited me.”

More levelly, she ruminates, “Top stars are not my priority at all. I have rejected 25 scripts since Queen became a hit, including some films opposite big names. I am doing two films now, but would ideally like to work on one film at a time. When I get better opportunities, why should I compromise?”

So, would she do a Krrish 3 today for a big director and top star? “Well, never say never, but that’s a pointless question, because I have already done it,” she smiles,
It’s been eight years since Kangana started out with Anurag Basu’s Gangster, followed by Mohit Suri’s Woh Lamhe… the same year. Where does she see herself now as an actor?
“Well, obviously my finesse and skills have improved. I would not have got to do films like Queen and Revolver Rani then, and if I had, I would not have been able to do them with the maturity I have now. Yeh meri aanth saal ki tapasya hai (this is my penance of eight years)! I have grown as an actor, as a person too. My creativity and craft is much better now than it was then.”

When people say that singer Asha Bhosle, who was common to Queen and Revolver Rani, or some other factors have proved “lucky” for her, does she think that it is an attempt to negate her own worth?

The luck factor

“I don’t think anyone is lucky or unlucky for you,” she replies candidly. “I think that for anyone, it’s all a gradual process of evolving into someone better. There are times when I wanted to contribute to my film and role, and I got the chance to write most of my dialogues in Queen. But I could not have done that with the language of Revolver Rani. I had to cram my lines. Queen was first loved as a movie and then became a hit, so it is never about any one factor that was lucky.”

How easy was it to write her lines in Queen? “I had to psyche myself into my character,” she says. “After that, it wasn’t really difficult.”

In her new film, Kangana had to “really get into the character of a slightly older and barren (as in childless) woman.” “The director’s take was quirky, and my character was far from being intelligent, in fact, she has no mind of her own really,” she says. “My only idea was that I should not stick out like a sore thumb.”

Kangana feels that Revolver Rani is a no-genre film and there was no reference point for her physical appearance too. “Prosthetic experts were flown in from London to work on my nose, make my eyebrows thick and my skin rough.” she says. “I play a scary, powerful, brutal woman, almost a man, on the surface.”

Apart from playing the mutant in Krrish 3, Kangana’s done an admirable variety of roles. And yet she has largely specialised in neurotic characters and comedy. What does she say about this?

“I try not to repeat my roles,” she replies. “I turned down The Dirty Picture because the woman turns into a nervous wreck later, and I had done a few neurotic characters already. After Tanu Weds Manu, I was offered Raanjhanaa, but found similar elements to it. Rajjo, which did not work, was a character I had not done before. Queen, then, was my most challenging role. Yes, I did have comic roles too, but only Tanu Weds Manu succeeded.”

What about rumours that she was planning to turn director? “I would want to do that quite soon.” she smiles. “A director has control over everything. He leaves individual aspects like acting, writing and all else to people best in those fields, but supervises everything and puts things together.”

How does Kangana feel about the accolades showered by Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan and others on her through micro-blogging sites? “Well, you can hardly call them my friends,” she quips with a laugh. “When we meet, we extend courtesy to each other. It was just how an artiste enjoys another artiste’s work, which is different from how the audience likes you. And they courteously praised my work.”

Finally, is it true that she has turned vegetarian?
“Yes, I have. I do yoga and meditation and I think that being vegetarian helps me in that too.”

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