Kangana Ranaut is at her chirpiest best these days and she deserves to be. The girl has literally come a long way from the hills of Himachal to be one of the most talented actresses in the Hindi film industry. Recently, it got stamped when she won the coveted National Award for the best actress for her performance in Queen. The film has already fetched her Filmfare trophy proving that a good performance never goes unnoticed. Kangana recently turned 28 and celebrated the occasion at the poster launch of the much awaited Tanu Weds Manu Returns. The original brought her back in the reckoning when things were not working out for her. When the media was probing her private life and the critics were making fun of her accent, it was as Tanu that she proved that she is still in ‘Fashion’. She respects the faith that director Anand L.Rai reposed in her by giving her all in the sequel where she is playing a double role.
Excerpts from the interview:
How do you feel on winning the National Award for the second time?
It came as a surprise to me. I was not anticipating this award but it’s an honor for me. Commercial awards are TRP driven and based on commercial factors, item songs, lewd jokes and affairs whereas a National Film Award is purely for talent. It was a wonderful birthday gift for me.
How do you see your journey as a small town girl to becoming a National Award winning actress?
It was not an easy place to be back then. I worked hard for it. Knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally, I just got to this place. I have a lot of expectations from myself so it’s not easy.
What inspires you the most?
The spirit of never giving up inspires me the most. I just don’t give up and I have been lucky enough to have control over my life.
Which character do you relate more to; Rani from Queen or Tanu from Tanu Weds Manu?
It’s very difficult to say which character I relate more to. I would say I have been Rani from Queen at some point of time in my life. When I was narrated that story, I could completely relate to it. I have been a rebel too. I have had discussions with my dad and as I came from a small town in Himachal to Mumbai, in my journey of life, I feel I have a little bit of Tanu in me because she is a small town girl from Kanpur and is a rebel who never listens to anybody and does what she wants to do. Both the characters are close to me and I have been both Rani and Tanu at some point of time in my life.
What are your thoughts on the institution of marriage?
Marriage is tricky. We see Tanu applying sindoor in the morning and at night she wears a mini skirt and goes out with her husband and smokes with his friends. This creates a lot of conflicting expectations from today’s women. Society has a different approach towards live-in relationships or girls who have had many relationships in the past and who are best friends with them today. The kind of society we are in today makes it very hard to have a real idea of marriage. It’s something no one really knows in today’s time and age. This is what ‘Tanu weds Manu’ is all about: two urban people struggling with their partnership.
How was the experience of working with the same team again?
For me ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ is a very memorable film. When I was going through a phase when I had no work to do and where I did not have many offers, at that time ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ became a big hit, an unexpected hit. At that time such small films didn’t make much money so the movie for the entire industry was like a case study. ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ has always been very close to my heart and will always be. I have had a very special relationship with Anand L.Rai, a little more than other directors I have worked with because Anandji has seen me through that phase when I was a no-body. And today when I am addressed as a successful actress then I feel lucky to have him as my director as Anandji is a very intense director. Himanshuji (Himanshu Sharma) is a very nice writer and is the man behind movies like ‘Ranjhanaa’, ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ and now the sequel. The cast of the movie; all of us are very modest people and are only known for uur performances and from day one we worked in our comfort zones because we already had a good rapport with each other. I was very comfortable with Madhavan; Deepak and I are both pahadis so share that pahadi bond and similarly with Swara I felt really at ease. This film, I would say, is my favorite project.
How was your experience of playing a double role with contrasting personalities?
It was draining. I just had to put everything I know to bring alive the two characters. These women are very strong yet very different from each other. They are both the antagonist and the protagonist. I had to have conflicting personalities, ideologies and body language. They are two extremes. I just put all I knew. When you get a character in a film it is already hard and here I had two strong characters so it was two times more difficult for me. It was difficult portraying these two girls with complete conviction especially when they had scenes together. Tanu, in the beginning, is more self-centered. The person she loves the most is herself, whereas, Datto is not like that. Datto is more of a complete woman. Datto is someone we would want to be like. Tanu is someone who is beautiful on the surface and her personality or be it the way she talks is more attractive. Datto is an athlete from Haryana who is very confident, not a girl who has confidence issues or things like that so I have given her a boyish look keeping in mind that she lives the life of a tomboy but has bunny teeth, a weird accent and nothing glamorous about her. These were the contradictions about the two characters.
You are called the lady Aamir Khan and both Aamir and you have celebrated your birthday with media recently. Was it a mere coincidence?
It was a coincidence completely. He is a friend and I really appreciate his work. I am really enjoying this because we often celebrate our birthday with our friends but as this film is so special to me, to celebrate it with everyone and even to talk about it is a totally different experience.
How did you feel when your contemporary actress Priyanka Chopra appreciated your work and congratulated you on winning the National Award?
I have known Priyanka since 2008 and we have been friends since then. I used to be a fan of hers’ then and now that I am in the same league, I feel great. I felt really nice when she called me from California and talked to me for an hour; to congratulate me after the award was announced.
What do you feel at present about your acting career?
I never expected to be so busy with my acting assignments and the kind of people I am getting to work with is really gratifying.
What’s your attitude towards life when it gets tough?
Fortunately, I don’t know where this spirit comes from but not even one day have I had in my life when I did not feel like getting out of my bed or not moving on with my life. I have seen the worst phases and the worst times but I’ve been very fortunate. I think I am just born with this. I had nothing but just my spirit.
Which projects have you been working on?
After ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’ I’ll be working on ‘Katti Batti’. I am also starting a film with Sujoy Ghosh called ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’. Then I’ll be doing a film with Hansal Mehta.
Are you planning to venture into producing movies too?
I am not producing anything. I did a script-writing course. There was no production involved. There is no plan or agenda as such.