Kangana Ranaut is taking Bollywood’s entrenched patriarchy and male chauvinism head on.
Sparking a furious spat with top filmmaker and producer Karan Johar with her candid comments on his television chat show Koffee with Karan, aired a few weeks ago, Ranaut is now spiritedly fighting back his attempt to shame her into silence by alleging that she is playing victim.
In an interview published on March 09 by the Mumbai Mirror newspaper, Ranaut said she only played the “badass card” on Johar’s show, not the “woman card” as later alleged by the host.
“Why is Karan Johar trying to shame a woman for being a woman? What is this about the ‘woman card’ and the ‘victim card’? This kind of talk is demeaning to all women, particularly the vulnerable because they are the ones who really need to use them,” she said.
She was referring to Johar’s comment from a few days ago: “You cannot be this victim every time and have a sad story to tell about how you’ve been terrorised by the bad world of the industry,” Johar had said, adding that she should quit Bollywood if she didn’t like it. He was responding to queries over Ranaut’s statement on his show implying that he represented the nepotistic “mafia” that was intolerant to outsiders.
An influential section of Bollywood has for long been said to perpetuate the reign of industry insiders—sons, daughters and other close relatives. Besides, it is also said to favour women who dutifully fit roles prescribed for them, echoing India’s social norms.
Ranaut, on the other hand, is a flag-bearer for that rare breed in the industry: assertive women with no godfathers, yet unafraid to speak their minds, regardless of the professional consequences.
“(Karan Johar) is nobody to tell me to leave it. I’m definitely not going anywhere, Mr Johar,” Ranaut told Mumbai Mirror. “If he thinks that it (nepotism) is restricted to nephews, daughters and cousins, I have nothing to say…What is important to understand is that we are not fighting people, we are fighting a mentality. I am not fighting Karan Johar, I am fighting male chauvinism.”
Bitingly, she advised Johar to provide his newborn daughter the ”card” he alleged Ranaut of using. Last month, Johar became a single parent to twins born through surrogacy.
“Now that Karan is the father of a little daughter, he should provide her with all these cards—the ‘woman card’ and the ‘victim card’, as also the ‘self-made-independent-woman card’, and the ‘badass card’ that I flashed on his show. We will use whatever we need to ensure no one rocks our boat,” Ranaut said.