Marching to her own beat, she arrives at the studio…just like she had while making her Bollywood debut seven years ago. Even in a pair of denim shorts and a simple grey tee, the girl exudes an aura of confidence and glamour. One glimpse and you’d know that she’s a born diva. In her words, she hails from ‘nowhere’. And considering the number of times she has made headlines for all the wrong reasons, it hasn’t exactly been a fairytale ride for her. But the youngster has still made her way to the top league of actresses in the industry today, thanks to her extraordinary acting skills.
It’s not her unconventional choice of roles which leaves everyone dumbstruck time and again. It’s the ease with which she plays each of them. Of course, her breathtaking beauty is a bonus. No wonder then that the camera loves Kangna Ranaut, regardless of who’s behind it – a director or a photographer. After weaving magic during the photoshoot with her galvanising energy and a model-like persona, she sits down for a candid chat. As always, the gorgeous star speaks unrestrainedly on films, controversies, relationships and more. I listen in extreme awe. Here’s a blow-by-blow account of Stardust’s rendezvous with the firebrand. Excerpts:
Firstly, your recent film, Shootout At Wadala (SAW), received a positive response from all quarters. How does it feel?
It feels good. My film came out after a really long time. I didn’t have too many releases in 2012. And this was my first release in 2013. It was important for me to see it work and it worked quite well. All said and done, it was John (Abraham) and Anilji’s (Kapoor) movie. I didn’t have a big role in it. However, it was an strong character and I was the leading lady. So well, it’s always good to have a hit film.
Rumours suggest that you are upset with the movie’s producer, Ekta Kapoor because you weren’t involved in the promotions of SAW. Would you work with her again?
“I Can’t Be Called Single Because I Keep Dating Randomly Here And There.”
Yes, I will work with Ekta again if something comes my way. But I was upset because of the way the promotions of Shootout At Wadala were planned. It was almost an anti-Kangna campaign. I didn’t like it. I am not particularly upset with Ekta but with whosoever from her team chalked this out. It has been done in bad taste. I think they should have been a bit more mature about it.
Last year, you were only seen in Tezz. Unfortunately, it was a box-office dud. Now, you are back with a bang after the success of SAW. Not just that, you also have four major films lined up for release. So was it a strategic decision to do so many movies consecutively?
No, there’s nothing like that. See, I’ve been working on a lot of films. I worked on Krrish 3 for three years. And it took three years for Krrish 3 to be made because of the scale at which it’s happening and the VFX effects which are being used extensively in it. It was supposed to release in 2013. Sometimes, these things just take long and that’s why there’s a gap.
Your release, I Love NY is a breezy romance. Considering it’s different from the kind of roles that you usually do, how was it being a part of it?
Once again, I had been shooting for this film for four years. It intended to come out every year but somehow never released. Even this year, it was first going to release in April but it didn’t and I don’t know why. Finally, it’s happening. It’s a fun film. The directors, Radhika Rao and Vinay Sapru, have their own sensibilities and it varies from others. People like it when someone has something new and unique to offer in terms of creativity.
And how was it working with Sunny Deol? The actor is known to be an introvert. What kind of an off-screen rapport did you share with him?
Well, Sunnyji is an introvert. But he has a lot of nice qualities. He comes from a film family and that background. However, he still behaves like a common person like us and that makes it much easy for anyone to relate to him. He’s such a simple man that you can’t imagine him being a star and a star son! He really comes across as someone who could have been a part of my family also. He’s so down-to-earth. And for me, it’s a nice quality because of my previous experiences with the other star sons. They don’t know much about the outer world.
The way they deal with situations is different. It was great working with Sunnyji.
You had also worked with Sunny’s brother, Bobby in the 2007 release Shakalaka Boom Boom. How different are their working styles?
Bobby is pampered. He’s like the typical younger brother who goes back to bhaiya for everything (laughs). And Sunnyji is the stronger elder one.
In most of your films, you’ve usually been seen with actors twice your age. Wouldn’t you want to work with the younger men since the chemistry would be much stronger?
Yes, I’d definitely like to work with young actors. I’m 26 and most of my co-stars have been older than me. The age difference between Sunnyji and me is almost 30 years, which is beyond double. But I’m one of those people who’re not bothered about who their co-stars are. It doesn’t matter. If the script is good and the demand of a young girl opposite someone older is legitimate, then I don’t shy away from taking up the role. I let the filmmakers take the call. I never interfere when I sign a film, I never ask the director, ‘Who is opposite me?’ My co-actor in the film is not important. What matters is what I do in the movie. If I get a story that makes me want to do it, I don’t hesitate.
Each of your five releases this year caters to different sections of the audience. Naturally, your roles are drastically different. Wasn’t it difficult to get into the skin of such versatile characters?
It was challenging. For example, in Queen, I’m playing a girl who has no confidence at all. She’s a typical behenji and the film traces her journey. It’s all about how she discovers and liberates herself. In Revolver Rani, I play someone who’s independent, powerful and crazy with a fetish for revolvers. She’s intimidating and dangerous. In Krrish 3, you’ll see me playing a super girl. So it was indeed difficult to play such distinct roles. The variation between them is so vast that it took me a lot of time to move on from one character to the other. And all this has kept me very busy all this while.
We’ve heard that you’ll be seen in a never-seen-before-avatar in Revolver Rani (RR). Also, reports suggest that Irrfan was approached to play the character before you came on board.
Yes, he was approached for it because it’s the role of a girl who behaves like a man. But a lot has changed since I came in the movie. It’s an action film and I play an anti-hero character from Chambal. It was a task for me to get the accurate accent. The makers had given me a crooked nose and made me dark. She’s not at all pleasant when it comes to her appearance. For me, to pull that off was a big challenge. I was supposed to be like a cold-blooded killer. And it was so difficult for me because I have never even held a gun. It was taxing to lift such heavy weapons with blisters on my hand during the heat. Moreover, it was important for me get that body language right. After becoming an actress, I had never imagined that one day, I’d be made to look so unattractive. But still, the character is quite cool. I’m sure that after seeing her, many girls would want to be like her.
You’ve always dared to be different and played edgy characters with extreme ease. Are we ever going to see you in an out-and-out typical Bollywood masala film?
Actually, even if I do it, I don’t look good in such roles. It doesn’t work for me. I’d rather do films where I am required and the directors know why I am in the movie. I want to make sure that I’ve been taken for the job consciously as opposed to any other girl who’s just there in the film to pull audience. Sometimes, actresses are hired just for that. I won’t do something like that.
So basically, you’re saying that you’d never want to be just an eye candy in a movie...
Yes, I never want to be an eye candy and I think no actress should ever be just an eye candy. I feel that girls are much more than just pretty little things, you know. I think that this world and, especially, this industry wants actresses to feel that they are just beautiful showpieces. So girls get stuck in that zone and many of them inject themselves with hormones and botox just to achieve such a look. Why should we always pretend to be sweet 16? I mean, people do grow old, right? There’s nothing wrong in it. If someone wishes to continue to be a part of the industry after growing old, that person can do a lot. One can write and direct. There’s no point in standing as a showpiece behind the actors in some movies and then being replaced by another young actress after four years. That is simply depressing. Everyone wants you to feel that people love you only because you are young and pretty but that’s so not true. No girl should believe it.
Hailing from a small-town, you’ve managed to make it big in Bollywood completely on your own. How has the journey been?
Well, I totally enjoy what I do now. However, I didn’t grow up wanting to be an actress. I belong to Shimla. We didn’t have theatres there so the way we looked at films was quite different. Coming from a township like that, we saw filmi people very differently. For us, they belonged to a different world. We didn’t know where these people are from and what do they do exactly. My parents still watch movies with that perception because we never thought of acting as a career option like any other middle-class family. I had my own dreams. I wanted to be
a doctor. But I didn’t like blood and all that. So I decided not to pursue medical studies. I have artistic sensibilities and that’s why I chose this field. That time, my parents freaked out. Then I convinced them gradually. I like my work here. But I don’t think I have achieved that much and I’d like to do many more things. I want to do a few more films like Queen, Krrish 3, Revolver Rani and Rajjo, where I get immense creative satisfaction. Then I’d also like to direct some day.
During the nascent stage of your career, many a times you said that you feel like an outsider in the industry. Does that stand true even now?
No, I don’t feel like an outsider in the industry anymore. That’s because when you are a kid, your ideas about the industry are the ones that are given to you by others. But when you grow old, like I have now, you have your own ideas. I have my own definition and understanding of the industry. And the industry is not owned by anyone. It’s not any individual’s family or private property. If you want to be a part of it, you are a part of it. No one will ever welcome you and say, ‘Oh, come. Now, you are going to be our friend and will be taken care of by us’. So it’s all on you. You step in and find your space by doing good work.
Now that you consider yourself an integral part of Bollywood, did it bother you when Karan Johar didn’t invite you for his birthday party, especially because you’re also doing his production Ungli?
I think that was an extremely private party. Just because we are working together, doesn’t mean that he’ll invite me. We have a formal equation. You cannot be friends with everyone you meet, right? It’s a time-bound world and we all have little time to give to our special ones. Now, I don’t know Karan that well. But I might share a good rapport with him a few years down the line. So if his friend or he didn’t invite me for his birthday bash, there’s nothing to feel bad. The fact is that we don’t share any personal rapport. So that’s it. There’s nothing more or less to it.
Stardom comes with its baggage. Doesn’t it affect you when your name is dragged into controversies and link-ups when you are not even involved?
You know, there’s a certain amount of mystery and mystique around me. Several people tell me that they don’t know where I come from and find me intriguing because of that. So that leads to a lot of speculations about my life, my lifestyle and me. Most of the people are here because of their parents. And when someone like that manages to create an identity here, others make a perception about them as if they already know quite a lot about them. It’s good and bad because those stars always have to carry that burden because their parents are big names in the industry. But I come from nowhere. So it takes a while for people to understand someone like me. It used to bother me initially because I was much younger and didn’t understand many things. Now, it doesn’t. Gradually, people are getting comfortable with me and are understanding me.
You have worked with Sanjay Dutt in Rascals, Knock Out and Double Dhamaal. There were reports of a fall-out between the two of you. How did you react when you heard about the news of his imprisonment?
For me, Sanjay sir has always been a co-actor. I’ve never spent too much time with him. Neither did we have any buddy conversations because of the age gap. He’s more than 30 years older than me. So we never had a friendly equation. After all, what can you talk about? He’s such a senior actor. I can’t say ‘What’s up?’ to him or even Sunny Deol. There’s a certain amount of formality. When Sanjay sir went to jail, I sent him a text and he replied. So my equation with him is limited to that. But it’s a good equation.
After a long time, Krrish 3 is finally going to release. How was it being a part of it?
I loved it! To wear that suit and to be a superwoman was a challenge. Two girls used to help me to get into that.
It was a demanding role. By the time the film got over, I had become possessive of the suit, my hats and the boots. I also spent time with
my co-stars. Priyanka (Chopra) is my friend and we have done Fashion together before. And Hrithik (Roshan) is one of my closest friends too now. We had worked on Kites together. He’s a terrific star and a great actor too but a few people can imagine how nice a person he is. I’m lucky to have a friend like him. So overall, Krrish 3 was a great experience.
On the personal front, you broke up with your British boyfriend Nicholas Lafferty a while ago. What’s your relationship status at the moment?
I can’t be called single because I keep dating randomly here and there. They can’t be called as relationships either because I don’t want to be in a fulltime relationship. I am at a stage in my life where I am looking for different things and not only dating and relationships. That is just not my priority right now. I want to do some other things. I want to go for trekking and learn French cooking and more about wines.
But don’t you miss having someone special in your life?
It’s fine when you meet a person and spend some good time but being in a relationship is so not happening for me. It gets awkward after that. I hate being in a relationship. It makes me feel under pressure all the time. No matter who I am with, I think I cannot live up to the other person’s expectations. And that is a horrible feeling. Heartbreak changes you for some days, then you have two bottles of wine and you are back to your own self. For some days, you want to believe that you have changed and you’ll never fall in love again with these bloody men and blah blah blah. But those thoughts don’t last for long.
Lastly, where do you see yourself a few years down the line?
In the coming years, I will get into direction. After that, I will be staying in a Victorian bungalow with a beautiful garden back in Shimla.
By Swagata Dam