She reminds me of Alice in Wonderland. A girl who scampered dreamily, fell into a rabbit-hole and found herself in the peculiar, fantasy world of Bollywood. With Cheshire cats, Mad Hatters, mad-tea parties, Queen of Hearts, et al. Kangana Ranaut lives in the make-believe world of cinema, yet, she is not consumed by it.
“I don’t live to work; it is only a small part of my life. I am not born to act. I act to express myself, but I’m not obsessed with it. I want to try different things before I know what I love doing the most. In that sense I’m a wanderer,” she says.
Her elegant home resonates with her thoughts — bold, abstract, with an old-world charm. I’m distracted by a stunning piece of decor perched on the wall — a huge cut-out of Marilyn Monroe in her iconic pose, embedded with flashy lights. I know why, of course. We cosily settled down on the floor of her large living room with a cuppa chai, sunlight streaming in through the broad-brimmed windows while we chat about everything deep, dark and daring. Her enviable long locks are chopped off for a movie, but we’re not surprised, Kangana is after all a crackerjack at becoming the character she portrays.
“I don’t carry the baggage of my achievements or my failures. So, I can slip into my characters fearlessly. I live light, it gives me freedom to fly and be myself. People expect you to be part of a typical blockbuster, as their idea of success is so narrow. I enjoy larger-than-life characters and ensemble films, too, and I’m open to working with anyone, as long as I am also the hero in the film,” she says with casual candour.
Though, for her, success didn’t come easy as earlier she didn’t have a tray-full of roles to pick and devour.
“I think success is overrated. And the struggle to get there is underrated. There are no rules that we have to make it.”
Kangana explains, “Our society has a mean spirit; we crush the confidence of those who fail. Why do we make failure look so bad? I don’t see my failures as tragic or embarrassing.”
There were stories on how she was called a ‘loser’, at the start of her career. At dizzying heights of stardom, does she feel vindicated now? Pat comes her reply, “I am still that loser. I like the term ‘loser’; I am more comfortable with failure than success. It makes me bond with myself. It gives me character, strength and drive. Every time I am suppressed and I lose, I hit back with a bang. I don’t think even rejection in love is a tragedy.”