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Kangana Ranaut and her sister, Rangoli Chandel, are losing their credibility as fierce feminist icons as they refuse to accept criticism, behave like bullies and stand up for the wrong causes.
The story of Kangana Ranaut’s rise, is truly an inspirational one. Hailed as a true “Queen” of Bollywood, she remained an outsider as she boldly called out the nepotism in the industry. She was called a witch, and she chose to turn it into a badge of courage.
Her sister and manager, Rangoli Chandel’s struggle as an acid attack survivor is a testament to her strength, and together the two sisters are an unstoppable force. Kangana’s commitment to sisterhood went beyond Rangoli, to include other female actors as well.
Which is why it feels like a betrayal to see both of them behave like bullies now. I cannot fault them for their anger –women are entitled to it too. They probably have good reason to feel unappreciated and angry. However, the way they choose to express it, by putting others down, is unacceptable. We cannot know what pain Kangana had to endure in her journey to the top, but it doesn’t mean that she is correct in lashing out at others. A bully is often a victim too, but that does not condone the bullying.
Every day, there is a new story of either Kangana or Rangoli, saying or tweeting something negative. If attacking Deepika Padukone for celebrating the social media reach of her depression video seems like a petty ‘revenge’ for Deepika Padukone’s The Live Love Laugh Foundation’s objection to the former title of Judgementall Hai Kya; demanding that Varun Dhawan and Taapsee Pannu praise Kangana specifically in their tweets about the movie reeks of narcissism. Not to mention her recent, ugly spat with journalist Justin Rao, simply because he had something negative to say about her movie, Manikarnika, or her intermittent attacks of Alia Bhatt.
The image that Kangana is portraying now is of an egoistic, entitled diva –the very image that she has been critical of in the past.
Even more of a letdown is her brand of ‘feminism’, which seems to be based on a ‘patriarchal bargain’. Strategically, she increases her own power, even as she puts down other women and leaves the systems of inequality in the industry intact.
Rangoli tweeted in support of Vivek Oberoi, and indulged in whataboutery after the National Commission for Women issued a notice against the actor for sharing an objectionable meme about Aishwarya Rai and called the feminists who protested against the meme, “jealous bitchy women” who are “woman haters.”
She also came out in support of director Sandeep Reddy Vanga of Kabir Singh, who in a recent interview defended the glorification of toxic masculinity in the movie and said “If you can’t slap, if you can’t touch your woman wherever you want, and if you can’t slap, you can’t kiss, you can’t use cusswords, I don’t see emotion there.” She used the opportunity to once again put down Alia Bhatt, by claiming that her character in the movie Gully Boy, Safeena, is even more violent and abusive than Kabir Singh, completely missing the point that while Safeena’s violence is never glamourized and is always shown as a major flaw, Kabir Singh’s violence and alcoholism are presented as symptoms of ‘passionate love’ and not as the abusive behaviours they are.
She further tweeted a scene from 1951 movie Awara, which shows Raj Kapoor slapping Nargis, and claimed that the outrage against Kabir Singh was selective, and that the director as being targeted for being from the South –which certainly isn’t the case. It seems ridiculous to point out that the Raj Kapoor movie came out in an age where awareness about such issues was rare, and that social media did not exist at the time for the outrage to spread. As awareness about feminism and related topics has come about, there has been consistent criticism of certain tropes and patterns in Indian cinema, in all languages. It is Rangoli who is cherry picking examples, and indulging in whataboutery, once again.
In her constant bashing of liberal feminists and feminist causes, Kangana Ranaut (and her sister) has become the flag bearer for misogyny and sexism in the industry – something she used to be critical of.
A line from the movie, The Dark Night, comes to mind, “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Somehow, in the fight against injustice, Kangana seems to have lost her way, making me want to say, “yeh bik gayi hai feminist.” (This feminist has sold herself!)
Image source: YouTube
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Vijayalakshmi Harish is a book blogger and writer. To paraphrase her librarian, she is a
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