Kangana Ranaut: I can't sit on a set pampering the male ego
It has been a tumultuous few weeks for Kangana Ranaut, who has been in the news for speaking unabashedly about her life and the prejudices in the Hindi film industry. As she is being labelled everything from 'publicity hungry' to an 'icon of feminism', Ranaut remains unfazed. "Why are we so wary of discussions and debate? I am told it's bad PR, but I don't quite understand that term," she quips.
And just like that, the trademark Ranaut refusal to be conditioned by the society comes to the fore. It is this very trait that has seen her rise to the top. Or as her naysayers will put it, the trait that has earned her several detractors.
It's no wonder then that Ranaut is not willing to be a victim of Bollywood's pay disparity either. "There are women in the industry who say that if actresses are unable to bring in crowds [in a theatre] that a male star can, how can they demand equal pay. If we, as actresses, keep instilling this inferiority complex in girls, there is no hope for better times," she fires away, challenging the status quo, not for the first time in her career.
"Personally, my logic for remuneration has always been that I have 365 days to work, as much as any male star. An actor's pay must be determined by the amount of work s/he does. Your gender is no yardstick for it," she reasons.
The actor has even taken on the skewed pay disparity in her new video with AIB — even cheekily alluding to an actor who has his female co-stars' names appearing before his in his films' credit rolls.
"The industry isn't just made up of four actors who have lasted through the decades. I might not have 30 years behind me. But in my 10 years, I've achieved significant milestones to demand a certain fee. Anybody's film can fail and this year has shown us enough proof of that. So, let's stop giving the opening [weekend] and closing logic," she says, also indicating that it is the responsibility of the creative industry to trigger a change.
Pay gap, Ranaut says, is one of the many examples highlighting the gender inequality that plagues the country. And her fight against these biases has come at a price. "I know actors can't work with me," she says nonchalantly.
Kangana Ranaut says that Bollywood is a breeding ground for biases against women. "By and large, the system is not comfortable with an actress being intelligent. Too bad if she is smarter than the male lead. And worse, if she is smarter than the director," she laughs.
Is that why she has decided to go solo — be it for her upcoming film, Simran or her in-the-works biopic on Rani Laxmibai? "I have no choice but to go solo at this point. I face prejudice and people joke about how I am the bully. I swing between being a bi**h and Buddha. Have you heard that I am a witch apparently," she questions, the allusions of the statement not lost on anybody.
She adds, "This talk starts only because they want actresses to be dumb and pretty. I can't act dumb. I can't sit on a set pampering the male ego, just because it's the easier way to get your way around men."
Point out that there are men who are championing women's causes and she says it is a minuscule section. "To expect men to stand up for feminism is silly. They are used to being a priority in every field. It was a life of comfort for them — women were looking after their homes, giving them sex. Suddenly, women are coming out of this chauvinistic spell and asking relevant questions. That is bothering the men," she says, before adding that it would be wrong to blame only the male population. "Women, too, are sometimes more chauvinistic than men, perpetuating the 'men are better' complex."
Watch Kangana Ranaut's exclusive interview:
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