Kangana took charge from even before the word go, addressing the symposium before her cue, which elicited much laughter, led by the actor herself.
An outsider who broke through the culture of influence and dynasties that permeates Bollywood (as it does in so many other sections of the country), Kangana has continued to break barriers and address issues that are usually swept under the rug. And so, the session began with a discussion on nepotism, which Kangana had recently called out several Indian cinema stalwarts over, most prominently Karan Johar.
“Honestly, I didn’t think that my comments on nepotism will become a national topic. Nepotism is a prevalent system. I am not some activist. I would love to be, but for me it was an observation. It became a national debate because it was in everybody’s conscience. My comments just acted as a catalyst, because Karan Johar is such a popular person,” said Kangana.
She said that the director had his own style of working and he clearly “believes in the star-power of dynasties and bloodlines and it has been working for him clearly.” But she had her own way of doing things, as evident from her remark: “There are all kinds of people in the world. There’s a Karan Johar, and there’s a Kangana Ranaut also. More revealingly, Kangana noted, “The world is the way it is; it’s unfair and it’s not going to change. You have to figure out how to make your way through it.”
She also declared herself to be a huge Modi fan, stating,” That the son of a chaiwallah can become Prime Minister isn’t just a victory for Modiji, it is a victory for democracy in our country.” As noted by the moderator, Kangana, like the PM, is an outsider who has definitely arrived in what is otherwise a very cloistered establishment.
Commenting Swara Bhaskar’s piece on Padmaavat and the conservative backlash that followed it, Kangana said, “The way she was bullied was our loss. As a society we failed. She’s a legitimate artist and she has a right. I personally didn’t agree but somewhere deep down I was pleased. It was heart breaking to see how she was treated for her piece. I’m sure Swara might not be affected by it. She’ll come back in 6 months and write again. But million of other women will get affected and be wary of voicing their opinion.”
At the beginning of the session, Kangana had suggested talking about sex and relationships later in the conversation so as to keep the audience hooked, and when that time came, she was her candid best. “I’ve had so many affairs. And after every breakup I feel like this is the end of my life. This has happened whether I’m 16 or 31. For me, love is not just physical, it’s spiritual and platonic. It’s an amazing experience you feel in every cell of your body, as if it’s is awakened, even if the person is not around. My boyfriends have asked me ‘how do you know everything about my life. It’s black magic. It’s telepathic.’ It’s how I love. And if my love is psycho, then it’s fine. I’ll find someone else. I am fine being called a witch,” said the actor, to much hooting and applause.
Ironically, Kangana has never had the chance to initiate a change of affairs, as she revealed, “I’ve never gotten the chance or had the privilege to dump anyone. I was always the one who got dumped. If I told you some of the names, you’d be shocked that even this loser has dumped me. They come back but then I can’t take them back, because by then I’ve moved on to another loser.”
Let’s just say, it was a boisterous last session.
Switching back to work mode, Kangana spoke about her upcoming film, Manikarnika, which she said she’s obsessing over. “Manikarnika has taken over my entire existence. The cast and crew are all hoping that it strikes the right chord with the audience.”
When asked for her take on the rising of India as a nation, the actor was emphatic. “For me, I don’t believe in religion. I am what my country is. I am a proud Indian. And I think the self-respect of our people needs to rise. Nowadays, it’s cool to say bad things about your own nation. The young generation is always complaining, saying there’s no infrastructure, there’s no cleanliness. This attitude is not okay,” she said, adding, with characteristic animation, “Agar desh ganda hai, toh aap mehmaan hain kya? Saaf karo (If the country is dirty, what are you, a guest? Start cleaning). If you like abroad so much, go there. Jahaan infrastructure accha hai, wahan jaao, jab thappad padenge wahaan ke immigration ke aur waapis bheje jaaoge, toh pata chalega (Wherever you like the infrastructure of, go there. When their immigration boots you back, then you’ll know?). Why are you ashamed of your nation? When Americans stand up to the national anthem, they do it with hands to their heart then why are we ashamed to do that? Let’s learn some good things from the Americans also.”
“We will only rise when our country rises. We need to make that happen ourselves. I want to go abroad and be treated with respect because I’m an Indian, not because I’m someone important. I’m a proud 21st Century Indian girl, and yes, I will stand for my national anthem,” she said. Cue cheers.
But the highlight of the evening came at its very end.
Answering an audience member’s question about whether she’d consider a career in politics, Kangana bantered, “Personally, I feel politics is a wonderful field, though it is often misunderstood. But what I don’t like is the fashion sense of politicians. I can’t wear those kinds of clothes. Because of the way I dress and speak, I don’t think any party will take me. But personally, I don’t mind entering politics if they don’t change my fashion sense, and let me say what I want to.”
There were plenty of parliamentarians present at the summit, so did we just witness the rise of a new political star ascendant?