The first actor to attend the Women In The World summit in London, Kangana Ranaut recounted her journey from a small town girl to Bollywood's queen bee following a decade-long struggle.
Kangana Ranaut (left) in conversation with Tina Brown
The annual event presents personal stories of influential women and challenges facing the fairer sex around the globe. Hollywood stars Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, First Minister of Scotland Nicole Sturgeon and Queen Rania of Jordan were also part of the summit this year.
Introduced as 'new face of India', Kangs talked about girls being treated as a liability in the country and their birth considered as a setback, if not a tragedy. "I was a pain, not a child that Indian parents would like to have. I was quite rebellious. I didn't see myself as a liability — I guess my parents did — or, as someone whose purpose of life was to find a good husband. I was confident of myself. I liked how my father had a lot of expectations from my brother and I wanted to be that person he could be proud of, who could be her own hero," she said.
She decided to run away from home on a "quest to understand her own self, to be allowed to be more than people thought she was". Recalling her initial days of struggle, the actress said, "It was no fairytale. I was nothing like I am today — I couldn't speak a word of English. In England, people might be understanding of that, but in Mumbai, people aren't forgiving."
Discussing the 2012 Delhi gangrape incident, Kangana said she is pessimistic about India becoming a safer place in the near future. “I think that's a little impractical to hope (for),” she said.
She, however, has confidence in womankind and noted “the darkest and deepest corners of the human soul have always been feminine. They offer the only way to penetrate the darkness — not anger or aggressive masculine emotions”.
Answering if Bollywood tends to choose good looks over talent, Kangana joked that she would land in trouble if she admitted to it, but remarked that some films do objectify women.
Finally, she was asked how Indian actresses can assure that they are taken seriously. Her reply met with a round of applause: “We don't need anybody's approval. It is important for women to accept themselves because others' opinion of you will keep changing. As women, we shouldn't hope to get our due; we need to get up and get it ourselves.”
(WITH INPUTS FROM AGENCIES)