There's nothing she Can-naut do

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Theres nothing she Can-naut do

Kangana Ranaut may be in the news for all the wrong reasons, but the naïve girl from Dehra Dun has proven she can go the distance with her great performances

By Khalid Mohamed

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Published: Fri 8 Jul 2016, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 8 Jul 2016, 2:00 AM

She could either be altering her career strategy or it is sheer happenstance that, of late, Kangana Ranaut has been restricting herself to films that are more adventurous than formula-packed potential blockbusters. You won't find any hyper-commercial projects in the offing on her slate right now. Rather, she has aligned herself to directors who are known for straying off the hackneyed track.
Take Vishal Bhardwaj's period romantic drama Rangoon, which is approaching completion, or her role as a Gujarati NRI in Simran, directed by Hansal Mehta and scripted-edited by Apurva Asrani, who have collaborated on the critically saluted Shahid and Aligarh. Then there's the Ketan Mehta-helmed biopic Rani Laxmi Bai, on the warrior queen who combated the British Raj during India's rebellion of 1857.
Obviously, all of this has aroused questions: What? No films with A-list heroes or even with director Aanand L Rai, who tapped her talent with the super-successful Tanu Weds Manu series? And how come the powerful production corporates aren't pursuing her any longer (the way they do Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra or Katrina Kaif)?
Evidently, the controversy, vis-a-vis the still-under-investigation exchange of emails between Kangana and Hrithik Roshan, has taken a toll. The 29-year-old actress speaks her mind and heart, which appears to have alienated the big guns of Bollywood habituated to expecting the politically correct from heroines on their wish lists.
Mercifully, Kangana hasn't buckled under the pressure. She may only have a small stock of films right now, but each one of them promises to assert her evolution as an actress of substance. For a naïve girl from Dehra Dun - who was initially confined to playing psychologically unhinged, downbeat characters - she's done pretty well for herself. Now she leads life on her own terms in a tastefully-appointed apartment. At present, her sister Rangoli, is her only support system.
Kangana's not perfect - far from it, especially off-screen. She has her mood swings and at least a couple of filmmakers have groused that she can switch off right in the midst of story narration. Unpredictably, too, she can express her opinion on Salman Khan for making a chauvinistic statement, or admit that she suffers from ophiophobia - a fear of snakes. How often she would be in the proximity of reptiles is another story altogether...
Moreover, following the acrimony between her and Hrithik Roshan, it was reported that she suffers from Asperger's syndrome, a social behaviour disorder.
That's quite some heavy baggage to carry in show business, where a single blemish can tar an actress' public image. Gratifyingly, the media by and large has justly sided with her, pointing out that she may lose out on extravagantly-budgeted films bankrolled by finicky producers. Despite that occupational hazard, she has held out on to her feisty, independent spirit - indeed a first among today's top heroines.
The very fact that she can boast of three National Awards (for Fashion, Queen and Tanu Weds Manu Returns), affirm that, despite her detractors, yesterday's loser did have it in her to become a certified winner. Come to think of it, now that she has elected to work in out-of-the-box films, it indicates that Kangana is in that dicey but essential process of reinvention.
Of her three talking point projects, clearly the most demanding one is Ketan Mehta's Rani Laxmi Bai. It's a dream role that even Sushmita Sen wished to incarnate and produce herself some five years ago. As it happened, Sen's film fell through the cracks.
Presumably, Kangana is aware that she can't afford to procrastinate over an offer in which she can extend herself as an actress. The one time she dilly-dallied, she lost out on The Dirty Picture, produced by Ekta Kapoor, which Vidya Balan accepted in an instant.
As for Vishal Bhardwaj's Rangoon - believed to be in the genre of the Humphrey Bogart-Ingrid Bergman classic - it has been marked for release on February 24, next year. Incidentally, trade trackers believe that Kangana was paid a heftier salary than her Rangoon co-stars Saif Ali Khan and Shahid Kapoor.
For Hansal Mehta's Simran, Kangana has been learning Gujarati to get her diction spot-on. The film explores the lives of NRI settlers in the US. Among the American cities, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Atlanta have been selected for the principal locations.
Win some plum projects, lose some. You have to hand it Ms Ranaut, though. She's a game-changer.

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