The ‘Queen’ with Gut and a Heart!

She has climbed mountains, so to speak, done this, done that! Speaks her mind, she has one for sure, feels free to express and share it. Not one to be cowed down.

Kangana Ranaut has always been a bit of an outlier. A small-town girl from Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, with no ‘godfather’ to speak of, she left for Mumbai to become a movie star at a fairly young age. Speak to any aspiring youngster, seeking fame and fortune in the Mumbai film industry, and they will tell you that it takes extraordinary luck or serious contacts to get a break – with no guarantee of success.

She found both fame and fortune, steadily rising to become a certified A-lister, and regaled the audiences with exceptional performances in movies like Gangster, Queen, Tanu Weds Manu, and, much later, Manikarnika, among others. Her choice of roles and the audacity to lead movies in a largely male-dominated film industry, with considerable commercial success and critical acclaim, is a reflection of her grit and determination. Fierce, gloves-off, and always keen on speaking her mind on issues that land her in the public gaze, and of often in controversy, has created an aura around her, establishing her as an independent, strong-willed woman.

At a time when movie stars seldom speak on social, political, and industry-related issues, fearing retribution – case in point the recent debate around nepotism – her no-holds-barred attitude has won her admirers and detractors in equal measure. She did not shy away from accusing Karan Johar of being the “flagbearer of nepotism” on Koffee With Karan, leading to a serious debate on the contours of the subject, even igniting the boycott trend, relegating movies like Sadak 2 to the dustbin.

While we may argue on whether or not her accusations hold water, there is no denying that she is one of the very few celebrities in the industry who speaks her mind, even at the cost of personal threats and damages. Remember the tragic and dubious death of Sushant Singh Rajput? She had called out the then-ruling party for making Mumbai unsafe, even comparing it with Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir (POK). “Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena leader, has given me an open threat and asked me not to come back to Mumbai after Aazadi graffitis in Mumbai streets and now open threats, why Mumbai is feeling like Pakistan occupied Kashmir?” she had then tweeted. Political witch-hunting followed, and in a highly televised maneuver, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) first issued a legal notice for “illegal construction” in her house, and carried out a demolition drive. The then Shiv Sena goons called her names that are best left unsaid in this column, even attacked her house and damaged windowpanes. She knocked on the court’s doors and the Bombay High Court ordered a stay on BMC’s move, while the central government provided her Y-Plus category security, usually reserved for high-profile leaders and high-ranking security and establishment officials.

Since then, there had been murmurs of her joining politics, and her visit to the inauguration of the Shri Ram Temple in Ayodhya on the 22nd of January added more fuel to the grapevine. The matter has now been settled, with the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) declaring her their candidate from her hometown, Mandi, where she will most likely take on Pratibha Singh. She is no political lightweight and represents the Mandi constituency of Himachal Pradesh and is a member of the Indian National Congress (INC).

Even before the noise around her candidature could settle, Supriya Srinate’s, Congress’s spokesperson, distasteful comment on Kangana from her Twitter handle, which she later said was made by someone with access to her account, has the state’s political landscape buzzing. The BJP has magnified the issue, making it a matter of Rajya ki Beti ki Izzat. But then, Kangana has never shied away from controversies – neither have controversies deterred her from seeking what she believes is hers. As we move towards the Lok Sabha elections where the BJP bats for a historic third term under PM Modi’s leadership, and Congress from a complete wipeout, watch out for the Mandi Lok Sabha constituency! Win or lose – she will make it one of the most anticipated political battles of 2024, for she is a destiny’s child.

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