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Kangana Ranaut could have handled journalist Justin Rao’s question much better; yet, the outrage against a woman without an industry godfather feels selective, says this author.
Before you pull out your guns to shoot me, hear me out. As a female journalist, I have been ignored, cajoled, insulted, harassed both physically and online.
I have received death threats, abuse and people have sent pictures of dead bodies on all my social media accounts and emails. British far- right politicians have refused to give me interviews and I almost got spat on by them, whilst many of those who did not like my articles sent emails which contains content so vile, I cannot repeat them. So, I’m speaking from a place of experience.
I would like to address the verbal exchange between Ranaut and PTI journalist, Justin Rao. (FYI – I am thoroughly enjoying all the memes made with regard to this incident). I understand both perspectives, so I’m telling you why I believe both parties are at fault.
First, I would like to discuss Kangana Ranaut. I’m telling you why we shouldn’t entirely blame her for her fight with Justin Rao. Before you accuse me of being a fan, I must tell you, I have watched only three of her films, and Tanu weds Manu Returns offended me to no end. I was disgusted by the entire plot line and it made wonder why Ranaut even agreed to do the film. As a feminist, I didn’t expect her to agree to work with such a script. Neither do I think that she is a great actor.
So, having put all that aside, I would like to express my contempt for both parties. Both of them could’ve handled the situation much better. For God’s sake, they are both adults.
With regard to Ranaut, we all know her struggle. No leading male actor wants to work with her, because she does not tolerate nonsense from anybody. She wants equal pay, equal screen time and does not want to be objectified. This is everything that scares the film establishment. They are used to making money off sexism. Kangana will not relent for anyone.
The industry or any establishment for that matter does not like mavericks and dissenters. Ranaut is a game changer in so many ways. So, I don’t blame her for being bitter after being labelled ‘psycho’, ‘lunatic’, ‘stalker’ and so on. She is only human, and her feelings are not going to alter for the sake of political correctness.
There are many female actors who have had several fights with the media, including A- listers like Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone and Bipasha Basu. You can find them all on Youtube. All of these women have expressed their irritation at the misdemeanour and horrific questions asked by media personnel. This incident is significant because of the bias against Ranaut.
How many times have you read or heard journalists use vulgar language to describe male directors or actors? Yes, journalists have trashed so many films with their criticism, but there’s a difference. Ranaut cannot get them fired. She is not as influential as the rest of her peers. They know that they can get away with it.
She challenges anybody who tries to oppress, suppress or destroy her. She is a force to reckon with. But she is not related to anybody in the film fraternity, nor does he have a Godfather. She is greatly disliked for her feminist principles. Those who are straightforward all earn the indignation of many. That’s how society treats those who are politically incorrect.
How is that Ranaut’s fault? That’s her innate personality.
The film fraternity wasn’t prepared for the fire that’s named Kangana. She has had enough abuse and hatred thrown her way. She has nothing left to lose at this point. She doesn’t give a damn. So why shouldn’t she express her disdain? Why can’t she exercise her constitutional right and confront the man who badmouthed her?
Manikarnika was her baby. She put in her blood, sweat and tears for it. Of course she will love it. Somewhere down the line, she may change her mind and find faults in her own direction. If someone insults your baby, would you take it? I sure wouldn’t.
Having said all that, I don’t have a problem with her expressing her anger, but she was promoting ‘Judgemental hai kya?’, not Manikarnika. My argument is, she could’ve handled the situation in a better manner. Ranaut could have responded on social media, or simply chosen to ignore Rao when he asked the question. She could’ve just stated: ‘I don’t want to take your question. Next, please’. Or simply pretended not to have heard, or let her co-star answer her question.
She also could have been her sassy self and stated: ‘You didn’t like my film? Tu judgmental hai kya?’ and the whole scenario would’ve been in her favour. She would’ve had the last word, and the last laugh. In addition, she could’ve roasted him and cajoled his vocabulary. ‘If you were going to insult me, couldn’t you choose a better term? Jingoistic? Far-right or Republican is more apt.’
Ranaut has no reason for bringing up her previous film, which did quite well by the way. Her movie grossed a 152 crores (figures obtained through Wikipedia) and clearly, she’s already won the battle. If she was really going to bring up her film, she could have even been petty and made a joke out of it.
With regard to Justin Rao, I have nothing against him either. Under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, he has a constitutional right to express his opinion, which he did, on Twitter. His personal platform. Yes, he just has 2000 followers or so, so he is inconsequential. But his comments regarding Kangana’s film were horrendous.
Calling a woman a ‘jingoistic nationalist’ is disgusting. I am personally appalled by his language. Rao is supposed to critique the film, not criticise Ranaut. If you are a film critic, aren’t you supposed to critique the film, and not assassinate the director’s motives or character?
And yes, I also understand why Rao felt targeted. Rao was expressing his personal opinion, and not everybody agrees with you. There was a summit held a few months ago for individuals who believe that the earth is flat. So what do you say to those people who refuse to accept facts? And this man was stating his divergent opinion. There is a time and place for everything, and Ranaut didn’t seem to comprehend that. She disrespected her producer and co-stars by bringing up her previous movie. It’s not always about her.
Also, Rao could have reacted along the lines of : ‘That’s my personal opinion. But we are now covering this film, and not Manikarnika. Can we get to your current film please?’
Or, ‘Okay, we can discuss that in private if you’d like. Can ask my question now?’
With this, the odds would have been in his favour.
Both of them are there to do their jobs. Having unnecessary fights is not going to benefit the film Ranaut’s promoting. As for Rao, is this the first time that a star has insulted you? I highly doubt it. If it is, then as a journalist, haven’t you learnt to deal with such situations?
Salman Khan has made numerous sexist comments and has derided the media, including female journalists to no end. Khan has been nasty to journalists on numerous occasions. Why aren’t journalists boycotting Khan? The sexism is palpable.
Just because Ranaut does not have as firm of a foothold in the industry as Khan, is it permissible to pick a fight? Would the very same Justin Rao say the same thing to Khan? I highly doubt that. He wouldn’t have the courage to do so. If he irks Khan, he’ll never be allowed into another press conference or media event. Khan’s fans would eat him alive, and even the PTI wouldn’t stand up for him.
How cowardly and sexist is this scenario? Nobody seems to see the sexism in this whole fiasco. This ban on Ranaut is simply ludicrous and should be lifted immediately, and both parties should stop playing the victim card and just move on.
Image is a still from the trailer of Judgemental Hai Kya!
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