cover photo : Kangana Ranaut at the Isha Yoga Ashram
This article began with the options of other, equally applicable titles:
FROM BEING THE ALTERNATIVE, TO BECOMING THE ESTABLISHMENT : The Ironic Journey of India’s Leftist, Liberal Elite
PLATO’s CAVE and WHO’S SMASHING WHO? A Tale Of Two Women And ‘bollywood’s’ Shadow Projections
You’re So Vain You Prolly Think This Blog Is Aboutchu, Don’tchu? Don’tchu?
But none of the above options was singularly about Kangana Ranaut herself. Here, and elsewhere, anywhere, everywhere, she deserves title – all and entirely to herself. She has well earned it.
So who is Kangana Ranaut? In a simple take, she is a wildly successful actress in the Indian film industry – a rare achievement in itself.
But, truth be told, much as was predicted about him in a feature interview with the Indian actor Farhan Akhtar in The Man magazine, in 2006 – Kangana Ranaut, too, is going to be more, much more. Even as she arises from the ashes that will be left of ‘bollywood’s’ incineration as it goes up in flames under a furious, new, public scrutiny.
To what does ‘bollywood’ owe this intense, all-encompassing, recent scrutiny? It was inevitable actually, that an educated, liberalized, maturing and awakening audience would, sooner or later, question the gods they worship, and evolve past them – in a plebiscite as rabid, it turns out, as the devotion was zealous. This grand inquisition into ‘bollywood’ is triggered, however, by the mysterious death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, and the Pandora’s Box, for real, opened in its wake.
There is the frenzied media narrative around the sensational death; there are a thousand and one conspiracy theories – and there is what will be the truth and facts, which, the public will likely never come to know.
One has to wonder, “Qui Bono?” from this hoopla of distraction? Well, for one, it is the corporatocracy that benefits – as India’s agriculture sector and farmers were dealt a near-death blow with a new law; and as the unbelievable biometric ID’ing of India’s citizens edges ever closer to reality. But hey, as long as the ‘bollywood’ tamasha has the country entranced, who’s looking? Who cares right? It’s just our food and humanity that the corporates continue to wield ever greater – nay absolute – power over. “Nothing to see here, move along… get back to that ‘bollywood’ imbroglio watchumacallit..”
For what else is this sensationalized, tragic death of a young actor being used as fodder? “Never let a good crisis go to waste” right? What is happening in the corridors of real power, while the entire country is wholely engaged in the speculative, daily, all-pervasive, blow by blow account of the macabre post-mortem in and of ‘bollywood’?
From this seeming omni-imbroglio, Kangana Ranaut has arisen, like some flaming Venus, to wrest a potent and very powerful primacy which has placed her front and centre on a platform which is the currency and coinage of fame: media focus.
Kangana Ranaut has risen to the heights of her primacy in India, not by ensconcing herself in an ivory tower, nor by her pr tipping off the press on the airport beats for arrival and departure photo-ops, but by aligning with something exceedingly more powerful: the people of India.
She reads the zeitgeist with specific alacrity – because she can. Kangana Ranaut comes from that milieu of ‘people-power’. The perpetual outsider in ‘bollywood’, she is the small-town girl from Manali, who made it big, not on a pre-ordained platform, but on meritocracy – and this feat has vested her with a power that is, in fact, a very first for a woman in the Indian film industry.
Through it all, she is not infallible (most recently she deleted a tweet that was called out as entirely based on a false premise), but these rare infractions hardly matter to the onslaught of truth-bombing that has become her calling-card from on up-high of her singular, self-created and self-ordained echelon – “feminism” anyone? More importantly, her unique echelon has made Kangana Ranaut the spokeswoman of the janta, the voice of the people; the heretofore entrenched power of ‘bollywood’ be damned, that of state governments too, and that of anyone and everyone who may attempt to oppose her point of view – her retorts are fearless, sharply honed and aimed to deliver – the target’s power and position completely notwithstanding. Indeed, she is the zeitgeist – her ever-growing fan-base in the several millions stands as proof positive. The dark-horse has – clearly – won the race.
An ancient story, Plato’s Cave, seems succinctly relevant to the intriguing rise and rise of Kangana Ranaut in this context. Here’s the genus for analogy: ‘bollywood’ is the cave; and Kangana Ranaut, one amongst the few who “made it out”. This is the ancient Philospher’s allegory:
Once upon a time, there were some prisoners who were tied to a stone in a cave. These people had been tied for so long that they forgot everything about the world outside the cave. Food and water was provided to them abundantly, and like this they lived their lives inside the cave. Since they had been confined, their world view was thus defined by the limitations of the cave.
Seeing the shadows on the walls of the cave, they would speculate about the nature of reality. Sometimes a King would pass by the cave, and they would see the shadows of horses, carts, spears and so on. On other days, some wild animal would pass by the cave, thus giving them a different view. Soon, they began making predictions. They realized that on every tenth day, the shadows of horse and carts would appear. Similarly, during the summer season the shadows of wild animals would appear.
Shadows were their way to understand reality. As they became expert in deciphering the origin, occurrence and nature of the shadows, they began giving honorary titles to each other. One would be called the ‘mystic’, another the ‘decoder’. The world inside the cave became filled with ‘shadow experts’ and ‘shadow philosophers’.
One night, one of the ‘cave men’ came free from his chains. Overjoyed by his freedom, he tried to wake the others up, but alas they were in a deep slumber. This was his chance, he decided to take it.
When he reached the ‘outside’, he was astonished to see the moon and twinkling stars. He wandered the whole night, in awe at the experience of this new reality.
The morning was painful, unable to open his eyes from years in the darkness of the cave, he was literally blinded by the light. Slowly, his eyes began to adjust, and he was even further awed to see the world in the light of day. Flowers, trees, animals, everything astonished him. He saw the King and his retinue of guards, and he realised what they used to see inside the cave was just partial renderings of the outside reality. He was happy as he had found the solutions to all the shadow experts’ musings and cave-philosophies. Hurriedly, he found his way back to the cave.
On reaching the cave, he excitedly told the others about everything he had discovered, witnessed and experienced. To his surprise, however, the others in the cave began laughing at him. They told him he had gone mad and “there is nothing like a ball of light in the sky, or fleshy animals, or Kings and soldiers; everything is within this cave, here, where we are”. The others totally denied the truth with which the freed man had come back to them.
The others, further, challenged the freed man to analyse the shadows as they themselves proudly could. The freed man, was now, no longer able to discern the dull shadows in the darkness of the cave. “Ah, it is your way to escape from reality!” they exclaimed, “since you are no longer competent to unravel the mysteries, you are making things up”. Thus, the freed man was mocked, humiliated and abused by the others in the cave.
Plato’s Cave is the allegory of ‘group-think’ reality as a limited illusion. It also proposes to explain why the ‘awakened’ – the dissidents amongst us – are, initially, inevitably, doubted, derided, rejected and ostracized. Facing a 175 year sentence for the [alleged] crime of exposing [actual] state crimes(!), the journalist Julian Assange is the perfect example of a dissident in our times. As per [alleged] factual records publicly available (the Bible), Jesus too was a socio-political and cultural dissident; so Gautuma ‘Buddha’, so Gandhi, so MalcolmX and Ché Guevara – standout luminaries from a much longer list of dissidents.
Once you undertake the heavy-duty work (few do, or will) to unlearn, unhook, detach and disengage from the dominant-culture, pyramid-schemed, mainstream narrative of hive-mind group-think, you cannot but be a dissident. Once you do the inner work of dismantling the entrapped, ‘educated’ [read: domesticated] psyche, and arrive at the actual, practical and experiential awareness of reality, then discerning truth becomes very obvious. And orienting from truth, versus narrative, will inadvertently deem you a dissident in a society – or a film industry – built on narratives, if not outright lies.
Living in truth is actually effortless, because it does not require complicated, hellish layers of ‘maintaining’ falsities in the realm of the egoic mind. The narcissism of egoic projections, image, appearance, the schizophrenia of it all is such a fragile architecture of the ‘self’ that it is literally a ‘house of cards’ – even a glass house of glass cards. The ‘egoic self’ is built on the primal insecurity of operating from third-chakra orientation, wherein there is no “I Am!” organic and spontaneous identity borne from the depth of introspection and self-knowledge – but rather the “Am I?” false-identity derived from ideologies and reflections, ‘smoke and mirrors’. The ‘egoic self’ is the dark-mattered, negative space which occurs when form blocks light – the ‘egoic self’ is the shadow.
The allegory [of the cave] contains many forms of symbolism used to instruct the reader in the nature of perception. The cave represents superficial physical reality. It also represents ignorance, as those in the cave live accepting what they see at face value. Ignorance is further represented by the darkness that engulfs them because they cannot know the true objects that form the shadows, leading them to believe the shadows are the true forms of the objects. The chains that prevent the prisoners from leaving the cave represent entrapment in ignorance, as the chains are stopping them from learning the truth. The shadows cast on the walls of the cave represent the superficial truth, which is the illusion that the prisoners see in the cave. The freed prisoner represents those who understand that the physical world is only a shadow of the truth, and the sun that is glaring the eyes of the prisoners represents the higher truth of ideas. The light further represents wisdom, as even the paltry light that makes it into the cave allows the prisoners to know shapes.
AN “IF” > < “THEN” EQUATION
If the ‘cave‘ was ‘the patriarchy‘ of endemic feudal systems within the Indian leftist, liberal, elite class, which is also replete at the apex of the Indian film industry; and if one were to look with honesty (instead of ideology) at who it is that is [actually] “smashing the patriarchy” – even as “the patriarchy” [actually] smashed her property – then it is only the actress and multi-crore producer and director, Kangana Ranaut, who emerges as look-worthy, in the analogy of the brave ‘dissident‘ freeing herself from the ‘system‘.
When we talk about the endemic feudal patriarchy that runs India, for those who can understand the Hindi phonetic comment below her instagram post, the rampant misogyny of that patriarchy is clear to note – it is hardcore, raging, violent, abusive and sordidly ugly, top-down and bottom-up, an all-pervasive and hideous misogyny.
Just for context, let’s remember, that while humanity is being forcefully hurtled towards the pharma-colonial-technocracy of 4IR, and the looming “great reset” at Davos, under the guise of the [alleged] ‘novel-corona-virus’ – India continues to be riveted, either by design or distraction, to this wildly sensational [alleged] suicide of an actor in the Indian film industry aka “bollywood“.
The deceased actor’s girlfriend, herself a young actress, has been arrested – for a charge bizarrely unrelated to the [alleged] suicide – or now suspected [alleged] murder – of the actor. Meanwhile, the real culprits, obfuscated inside the omni-imbroglio, abscond? Very likely. This young woman is clearly a show arrest, because how pathetic is it to nab a 20something year old for some negligible milligrams of weed? Yes, that is the charge of her arrest, and somehow touted as related to her boyfriend’s death. Our subcontinent has for millenia, no less, worshipped cannabis as a divine gift from our great god Shiva himself. This seems to be a trumped-up charge on a young-woman who seems to have become the patsy for someone/anyone to blame for the [alleged] suicide, or the [alleged] murder as becomes more suspect each day in this sordid protracted case. Is it because the one/s responsible are above the law and/or protected from/by it? The case is so far gone now, that any conjecture is potentially viable.
Regardless, the hooked, co-dependent audience, remain riveted by all the wretchedness, like so many dementors let loose in the public sphere, from the aftermath of ‘bollywood’s’ shook and ruptured underbelly.
ROSES ARE RED.
VIOLETS ARE BLUE.
LET’S SMASH PATRIARCHY.
ME AND YOU.
In the countless offshoots from the case of this death in ‘bollywood’, the deceased actor’s girlfriend showed up for one of the court dates wearing a t-shirt, the writing on which has since gone on to apparently spark a campaign. The leftist, liberal, elite, ‘bollywood’ feminists at the fore, the campaign seeks to ‘smash the patriarchy’. By all accounts, however, the ‘feminist campaign’ is specifically on behalf of only the young woman who wore the t-shirt. This campaign looks sadly like a very conditionally applicable ‘feminist campaign’, seemingly for the insular ‘people like us’, ‘one of our own’ of ‘bollywood’s’ feminists. The movement leaves Kangana Ranaut, especially, entirely out – as usual – the perpetual outsider, bereft of any of its beneficence – even as it is, equally, she who suffers the brunt and wrath of going up against the system, and had her property demolitioned as payback for that nerve. The whole thing is indeed a convoluted, free for all, omni-imbroglio like nothing seen before.
POINT A FINGER AND THREE POINT BACK AT YOU
It is truly a wonder to behold ‘bollywood’ turnt out! The very phalanx shrieking ‘patriarchy’, in that revelatory ‘those-who-protest-the-loudest’ way, are proving the perpetual victim-mentality in the narcissistic clusters and group-think of the privileged elite – even while accusing Kangana Ranaut of the same ‘victim mentality’. Gaslighting is the go-to technique of maintaining power when the game of its arbiters clearly seems to be up.
It is somewhat like the masks for the [alleged] novel-corona-virus: Tuberculosis existed last month, last year, last decade too – as actress Pooja Bedi, admirably breaking rank, recently asked, why were masks never mandated for that highly virulent contagious disease? Similarly, do the ‘bollywood’ cliques mobilize the treacly, moralistic [alleged] activism conditionally, only for ‘one of our own’? Because patriarchy and witch-hunts existed last month, last year and last decade too. Or does ‘bollywood’ appropriate activism, like everything else it appropriates – starting with its name – only when it’s a performative vehicle for image building, and ever more supply? “Any publicity is good publicity“?
NEPOTISM OR PRIVILEGE? KNOW THE DIFFERENCE
It’s relevant here to bring in the ‘nepotism’ angle – in another offshoot from the actor’s death, one of the narratives speaks to his [alleged] depression and consequent [alleged] suicide because of nepotism; the norm, which in ‘bollywood’ favors starkids instead of outsiders like the deceased actor. However, nepotism is a non-starter, from the first accusation onwards. Because of course, you’re going to favor your sister, wife, son, husband, daughter, brother, etc. especially where loyalty, property, finance, assets and trust are imperative for optimum, collective functionality to a mutual goal. Of course nepotism exists and is flourishing, yes especially in ‘bollywood’. Power is only achieved and maintained through the fealty and loyalty of one’s closest posse, as it were. Kangana Ranaut herself has her sister and her family as her closest confidants and management executors. Nepotism is the means by way of which dynastic lines are established, and carried forward generation to generation – or, in other words, the feudal patriarchy, and the access delivered by nepotism is but one by-product of the many privileges that come from sitting inside that system of hierarchy.
None of any of this soap-opera playing out in ‘bollywood’ is about “#nepotism”; all of it is about privilege. If there is any confusion about what privilege means in reality, here’s a short, 4min vid to explain it :
ROSES, VIOLETS AND OTHER SMASHING FLOWERS
All the blue-check-marked, verified accounts running interference with the ‘roses-violets-down-the-patriarchy’ schema, are in fact the abject, outright beneficiaries of privilege from that very feudal, patriarchal, dynastic order that they decry. So how exactly does this work? Benefit from the patriarchy, as a product and progeny of patriarchal hierarchies; orchestrate the patriarchy from within, for a lifetime of carte blanche access, for doing not much more than relaying-on the mantle of privilege… because when was the last time any innovation emerged, from the context of the above described milieu, which wasn’t derivative, ‘inspired by’ or stolen, harvested, or hired from an original source? For which, the said original source of IP, ideas, anecdotes, stories, inventions, patents, programmes, codes, experiences, consciousness even, likely received no more than a comparative pittance for the effort – gift-wrapped in the implication that the greater reward is the [alleged] privilege of continued hand-outs, the dangling-carrots of work in the industry, jobs, assignments, at best; and at worst, minionship, proximity, exposure. ‘Exposure’ is a big carrot… “starve, struggle and suffer, but at least you get to hang out with XYZ”, or “you’re a part of ABC” and “you’ll get exposure“. Condé Nasty, for instance, is so well versed in this exploitative technique, that they’ve got ‘interns’ literally running entire departments of the corporate publishers – free labour. WHAT could possibly be more stylishly vogue than exploitation right?
So, it seems to look like this for the ‘bollywood’ sequinazzi, a fitting moniker for the conditional feminists, both the [alleged] progressive female and their metrosexual male counterparts: first, corpulently exploit and benefit from all of the grand list of privileges, for which your birthright within the feudal patriarchy perfectly positions you; and then also, vociferously, play the other side, when that same patriarchy happens to turn against and net ‘one of ours’? Back both sides of any given issue, and roll with the one that looks like will yield better publicity with which to affiliate? So rothschildian the m.o. – and a version of reality which flows just one way, “my way or the highway” – whatever that ‘way’ may be in the moment – even shadows in a cave.
PRECEDENCE AND PATTERNS REVEAL INTENTION
Recall the last time ‘bollywood’ took on the patriarchy bogeyman and it made huge controversy and headlines? Lead and strategized by a film director who stood to benefit the most from it all – this last campaign, called “My Choice”, boldly, albeit ludicrously, took on some perceived version of patriarchy – or rather, took on some bizarre, contrived inversion of patriarchy, turned into a deeply misguided feminarchy, in a “Public Service Announcement“.. apparently.
A PSA, primarily starring the actress Deepika Padukone’s incredibly dope clavicle – and her voice-over declaring salvos like “sex outside marriage, my choice“…reality be damned, it seems?
With all due respect to the women in said PSA, every one, however, is a direct beneficiary of the privilege and protection from the very patriarchal system which seemed to be vanquished, with Deepika Padukone’s war(ble) cry of “my choice”. We are all beneficiaries of patriarchy, else we wouldn’t be here. Stop hating on the masculine maybe, even though it is the vogue to do so? Find out about the real inception of feminism; find out why this nefarious agenda-driven campaign to destroy the masculine by declaring everything healthy about masculinity in the catch all “toxic” bucket was even begun; you may be surprised at the trail that will lead right up to the current [alleged] pandemic, and what comes after it as Orwell’s predicted plutocracy, after the removal of the human species’ first line of defense: the healthy, natural masculine.
The very fact of the women’s appearance in the PSA is a platform courtesy of – or cajoled by – the patriarchy. Today, in India, in the last quarter of the damned year 2020, if a woman without the sequestering and protection of the patriarchy (and oftentimes even with it), attempts any of Deepika Padukone’s “my choice” nudges, she is likely to end up face down in a bog somewhere. Not by choice.
Neither choice, nor agency, exists for the greater majority of women on the planet, and certainly not in India; most definitely not beyond the miniscule, fractional, elite context of the PSA’s lineup. And, for this miniscule, fractional, elite, did it ever actually even need to be said that its “our choice”? Do we not overwhelmingly know that already?
It’s curiously mysterious at best, and outrageously entitled at worst, for a bevy of uber-privileged girls-on-film lecturing down to the janta about choice, agency, or anything at all really. Sorry to be 5yrs late on the reaction to this PSA, but its hypocrisy merits calling out, even belatedly so. Kangana Ranaut being the exception, perhaps, for what she brings to the table, and what she has gone through to achieve it at her young age – otherwise, why do ‘bollywood’ celebrities with frivolous, limited, insular, bubble-squeak-level life-experience (remember the cave and shadows?) assume to reckon about anything at all, except.. well.. celebritying? Or choosing a new juicer for a green-protein smoothie or something, if they must.
Vogue mag, as aforementioned, exists solely for publicity and access to celebrity – in order to sell all the several inches thick cumulation of advertising pages, between the few remaining pages of garish, manipulative content. Bas. That’s it. Bottom line. So “Vogue Empower“? Hmnn… the magazine does anything but ’empower’ its readers, its interns, or its employees (ref above).
Just like the current “roses-violets” campaign is a limited, conditional, case-by-case applicable type of feminism, “My Choice” was never a public service announcement at all – it was a protracted, public frottage by proxy of a camera lens, concluding in the outcome of a sizzle-reel for the film-maker – which brings us right back, and lands us at … wait for it … “the patriarchy”.
In the most telling of ironies, this [alleged] PSA was written by a male writer, and directed by a male director – the latter of which team, made his renown with (I kid you not), an “Archie comic themed film” touted one reviewer, in all seriousness – completely oblivious, apparently, to the inbuilt, factory-loaded, all-out misogyny of 50’s Americana depicted in the fictional Riverdale of that comic. It boggles the mind. This same review also offered up producer Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar’s imbecile, plastic-pastiche as an “oeuvre”. So, really, go figure.
A pause here to allow for… yes… please… go ahead with the highly warranted “Wait… What???” Feeling it.
India’s leftist liberal elite is glaringly rife with aspiration to America’s best, most fast-selling product: image, built on pure narrative – so desperately rife in fact, that it is unable to see its own internalised colonialism, feudalism, racism, classism and regressive, puerile capitulation to an Americana which is nothing more than a bad joke even in America itself. Therein the embarrassing reputation of India’s elite anywhere outside of India.
BY ANY OTHER NAME
The pathetically normalized, flaccid, derivative nomenclature “bollywood” – thy name spells hypocrisy. The projections, reversals – and entitled assumptions totally detached from any reality – would be laughable for the gobsmacking lack of awareness in ‘bollywood’s’ steerage – if it weren’t that they were so impactful on the general public of India, the audiences. Again, it boggles the mind. The emperor, indeed, rolls out naked from his cave, completely convinced about the shadows of his delusions. Unless the celebrity is, like Sushant Singh Rajput was, an engineer in training, who could comment on the field of engineering – there is no reason whatsoever, that a celebrity should consider himself/herself qualified or assume to preach (vs comment, which is A ok.. for all of us.. it’s called dialogue) on anything and everything from laws, to politics to governance to ice cream, to environment, to wildlife, to fashion, to psychology and exhausting more to which they do claim ad infinitum, typically uneducated and insular ideology-based commentary. Or they should then, at least, be honest and divulge that being an actor/actress/director/filmmaker is not their schtick, but just a stepping-stone to their real goal of pure outright power, howsoever they can get it, including being a celebrity en route. Can celebrities discuss the above list of disciplines and more amongst themselves? Fine, it’s allowed. The insularity will find great resonance. But assume position to lecture down, or rather as happens more often, preach from the pulpit of privilege? Nope. Not anymore. It has come to that, as witnessed by the retired veteran Indian actress Jaya Bacchan’s speech in the Indian parliament, more or less beseeching that the film (read: celebrity) industry has, in fact, ‘contributed’ and should be treated better than they are being treated by an angry and awakening public baying for “justice for Sushant Singh Rajput” – but really just baying against the outrageousness and inequality they’ve put up with in the gross display of unabashed privilege for far too long, from the executors of celebrity culture.
Their bastions are being stormed, and ‘bollywood’ cannot fathom it. Their primacy has been so endemic, they are unable to grasp that the “plebs” have broken the spell of their devotion to the godlike status of celebrity culture – evident in the thousands of piss-take memes across social media. Ricky Gervais, for example, smarter than to beseech in the hour of slow collapse, instead chose to pander to those “storming the Bastille”, as it were, the audience – rather than to those in an insular hall, with their insular thinking, hosting the insular Golden Globes – and he was right smart to do so, he read it right and right on. (*And what Ricky Gervais covered in his monologue… well.. certain, let’s say ‘minor’, aspects, may apply to the Sushant Singh Rajput case; for legal reasons, however, that is about all that can be said here… let’s wait and watch… let’s see just how ‘great’ this ‘awakening’ really is…and how far down the entrails of power it can reach.. or disembowel…)
In an ideal world, celebrities would just, well, celebrity – and stay in their own lane. Nothing more, nothing less, periodt.
Notwithstanding the looming “new world order” tyranny of the great reset, our zeitgeist also sucks because we created and eagerly fed the inevitable narcissisms of ‘bollywood’ – we gave permission for celebrity culture to run amok – and you know what permission does to narcissism-skewed personality types right? Narcissists never bow out gracefully when their time is done. Narcissists never bow out, period – not even when amidst, possibly, the biggest storming the Bastille moment happening, since, well, the storming of the Bastille – or at a stretch, since the Independence movement over seventy-years ago in India. What we are witnessing as the wide-reaching, all-encompassing, socio-cultural fallout of the most sensational [alleged] suicide case in ‘bollywood’ is a watershed moment for India; what we are witnessing, as bizarre a kick-off point as it may be, could potentially become as big as the Civil-rights movement in the US, and which culminated in the counterculture movement of the late ’60’s and early ’70’s – and it may, for India, in fact, even come complete with our own version of the war that was America’s ‘Nam’, God (and good sense) forbid.
The “#JusticeForSSR” campaign has glaringly exposed the entire systemic rot, classism, and rank elitism of ‘bollywood’, of our politics and of anything that may as much as touch the scorching fury of the people, by the people, and for the people.
ENTER, THE QUEEN
Not one of the ensconced cloisters of ‘bollywood’ rallying so hard out there to down the patriarchy, had a single word to speak to Kangana Ranaut’s solo struggle with all the nefarious odds lined up against her – from the very same !feudal! !patriarchy! that they’re out there protesting. Forget support, not even a word of acknowledgement came for the incredible bravery and fine chutzpah with which Kangana Ranaut continues to relentlessly forge her way through – a woman, alone. Wow.
What explains this double standard? What is this discrepancy? What are the metrics for this differentiated treatment? Why does one woman, likely scape-goat-ed, harangued, and now arrested and held captive, evoke the loud, showcase, solidarity of ‘bollywood’? And the other, admirably [actually] self-made, her property literally, violently [actually] bulldozed, and she repeatedly [actually] upended by “the patriarchy” – instead garners the virulent ostracizing, and rank ‘outsider’ status, which Kangana Ranaut has withstood from the word go? (..and continues to triumph despite…SNAP2)
Does it have to do with ‘bollywood’s’ elitist view, the “us” and “them” high-school-level-EQ mentality? Is Kangana Ranaut deemed not “polished” enough for inclusion? Or perhaps she has the authentic gall that ‘bollywood’ projects but does not possess. Is it that “It’s a big club and you can’t be in it“? Or because Kangana Ranaut will not toe-the-line, and refuses to describe the shadows in the ‘bollywood’ cave to the demands of the shadow-experts and shadow-philosophers? What is it that ‘bollywood’ finds so threatening about Kangana Ranaut?
At the advent of her now superstardom, Kangana Ranaut’s apprenticeship with the English language was initially, apparently, a point of derision amongst the snooty, cliquish ‘bollywood’ sequinazzi. Let it be stated, then, Kangana Ranaut has, since, more than owned the English language; and further, owned her detractors too, by properly coolifying – in her own inimitable style – the lyrical turns of her accented patois (.. yes, believe it or not, along with ‘fair&lovely’ skin, these ‘cultural markers’ are the judgements in the post-colonially-complexed, internalized racism of the Indian social milieu, top down and bottom up; to her credit, Kangana Ranaut has also refused a skin-lightening cream ad somewhere along her trajectory).
It is this self-same sequinazzi who had widely whispered, ‘she’s a psycho’, ‘she’s got issues’ and far far derogatorily more, on the back of her very public, highly publicised [alleged] breakup of her then [alleged] relationship with the actor Hritik Roshan.
It was a brutal, raw, wretched discombobulation across social media, emails, press releases, court cases – flung with evidences and revelations – entrails as only intimates can fling? – some seriously cruel salvos were launched in the very public sphere of that [alleged] breakup.
Let’s see, we have a spurned woman, her character assassinated, her reputation slandered, accusations of ‘mental imbalance’ lobbed at her, and she herself ostracized for not toeing-the-line of the feudal patriarchy’s protocol, and for not ‘disappearing’ when she was ‘done with’… Hmnn..? Now where have we heard this before? This is not unfamiliar is it? This is that old, broken, record on repeat, the classic ‘smear campaign’ deployed to shut a woman up and make her go away when she is done with? Much worse happens to women, much worse… this is India after all right? The fact that the implication of this question does not need to be spelled out says everything.
‘Pon who is the trending hashtag ‘witch hunt’ supposed to be happening? And where is it [actually] happening? ‘Pon whose heads has the ‘witch hunt’ always, all ways, been happening? Maybe look past the subterfuge, appropriating and obfuscation riddled across the dominant-culture narrative? Maybe look past the shadows in the cave.
Kangana Ranaut survived the vicious [alleged] breakup, leveraging an all out offense of truth bombs, encompassing a baseline message: “Stop telling lies about me, and I’ll stop telling the truth about you“. Survived – and thrived. She went on to knock out boxoffice hit after boxoffice hit – and blessings ‘pon her, that she may always continue to do so. Kangana Ranaut gives good films.
India may need or want a feminism that is pristine, infallible and morally untouchable – but this is the one its got – like it or not, this is the one, as represented by Kangana Ranaut, that, for now, truly fulfils the description of ‘feminism’ as we know it.
WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE HER DO? (SEEKING SOLUTION-BASED OPTIONS ONLY, THANKS 🙂 )
Kangana Ranaut’s politics can be problematic. She skews right, which too, in itself, would not be a problem in a free-choice democracy were it not for our incumbent, fifty-shades-of-fascist governance having used its tenure, thus far, to absolutely wreck and destroy the India we knew of the soaring GDPs and bright hopes for a good future. ( * And now look at us, here we are, a neocolonial, vassal state, kowtowing to billionaire globalists to do as they choose with our [allegedly] sovereign policy making, and we made no more than minions, a regional proxy for America in a cold war with China. Yeeesh. How did all this happen? How did we get here?! More importantly, how do we get TF out?!)
Kangana Ranaut loves her country, supports her government and makes no bones about publicly stating so – does that make her an avowed or opportunistic nationalist? Only if that makes everyone else on the same tip also an opportunistic nationalist.
When is a photo-op more or less than a photo-op?
And isn’t everybody after a photo-op?
So what makes Kangana Ranaut navigating the same photo-op, or any-op for that matter, so different? Note your answer, because it will show you if you truly believe in an authentically empowered feminine – or just one that fulfils your version of platitudes on “woman power”, like the faded stickers on the back of auto-rikshas.
In the playbook of the dominant-culture narrative, aka the avowed leftist, liberal elitist one, Kangana Ranaut’s right leanings are problematic. But for the establishment elite, anyways, everything about Kangana Ranaut is problematic. For the rest of us, cruising the middle path, it need not be problematic at all. One does not have to agree with, nor condone – and nor condemn – Kangana Ranaut’s politics, personality, philosophy, nor process, in order to acknowledge her absolutely, formidable and undeniable arrival.
Go on, you laude Kim Kardashian for ‘gettin’ it’. In Kangana Ranaut we have a bonafide movie star of intellect, acumen, capacity, street smarts and strategy, totally commensurate in proportion to the ages old, reputation and idea of fierce, proud ‘Indian womanhood’ – just such, whom she portrays in her films.
Against all odds, under heavy attack by a hardcore, feudal patriarchy that proliferates politics (left, right, up, down and sideways), proliferates ‘bollywood’, proliferates the power circles in Mumbai, Delhi, Manali, and everywhere; further under attack by her worst, most cruel detractors, the women, the sequinazzi of ‘bollywood’ and their frontline bougie minions, the buffer layer one will encounter like attack-dogs across social media, no less than the bhakts of the right – Kangana Ranaut refuses to capitulate. And why should she? What has anybody done for her lately? Besides destroy her property.
A lot of powerful characters would enjoy seeing Kangana Ranaut give-up, back-down, pack-up and slink away. They’re not getting that joy. Not in this lifetime. Kangana Ranaut is a formidable, feminine, force of nature, and she is nowhere even near her full potential – she’s only just begun – and her capability, by all accounts, is unfathomable, superhuman, wonder woman. And yet, remember, this is a 33yr old, young woman – alone – navigating this straight up dangerous dynamic.
AS THOUGH ‘BOLLYWOOD’ WAS NOT ILL ENOUGH, WE NOW HAVE ‘BULLYWOOD’
This was Kangana Ranaut’s property, her office, before it was demolished.
And this is Kangana Ranaut’s property, her office, on September 9th, after it was demolished.
This is the vengeful, destructive, wanton, feudal patriarchy establishment Kangana Ranaut is up against. If you’re a woman reading this, or a man, and your blood is boiling – consider it absolutely justified. How does anyone do this? How does a polity allow for this medieval behaviour? How does the command for something like this get issued? Its an absolute disgrace that a young, successful, immensely talented asset as a representative of India and its film industry, is treated like this – a vengeful callousness which has resulted in her building, property, investment and business destroyed in a demolition.
The handful that did come out in her defense – a handful of women – are likely to be proven on the right sight of history, and her story.
No roses, no violets.
Kangana Ranaut faces this – alone – instead: brickbats, bulldozers, machismo and violence.
POWER AND POLITICS
The original meaning of the word ‘power’ was not ‘oppress’ ‘control’ ‘own’ ‘judge’ ‘exclude’ etc; these implications came in with modernity; the original meaning of the word ‘power’ was ‘the ability to create’.
Kangana Ranaut understands power, in its most authentically empowered and feminine meaning. And she knows how to wield it. As she travelled out from her home in Manali, on the morning of September 9th, en route to Mumbai, the city’s municipal corporation, BMC, began bulldozing her office building on Pali Hill, in the storied neighbourhood of Bandra. It was a power flex – albeit a power-flex, to break down a woman’s property, while she was on a flight, en route, to represent herself. It was a “do you know who we are?” moment, enacted by bulldozers as proxy for those who would have ordered the city municipal corporation to prioritise destroying Kangana Ranaut’s building – over say, fixing potholes, or open sewages, or any number of other abandoned civic reparations which the city groans under. The demolition was posturing – to break a woman’s building property – and meant to break her resolve.
Kangana Ranaut was transiting through Chandigarh airport, while the BMC bulldozers began breaking down her building. She had been speaking to, and openly responding to the threats she was issued by innuendo, to “consider not returning to Mumbai” or that she “perhaps does not belong in Mumbai”. Her rejoinders on social media to those threats, can only be said were dheet and as unrelenting as it comes – she refused to bow her head before any of the coteries of men, and murmurs of women, gathered against her in Mumbai – the entire feudal patriarchy system, at its most raw, in fact.
Maintaining a formidable cool in the face of vile bullying and displays of chest-thumping, Kangana Ranaut returned to Mumbai – true to form – with a flex of her own. O-ren Ishii could not have done any better.
They say, ‘an entrance is everything’ – well Kangana Ranaut made an entrance, and how – flanked by the Y-level security detail the centre had granted her, the first ever for a person from the film industry.
Politics and power-plays in the biggest [alleged] democracy in the world – wherein a sovereign citizen requires a security detail assigned to her by the national government – in order to return to her home, where the state government has threatened her, and proceeds to demolish her building? To anyone who may be looking from outside the Indian context, this sure looks like the beginnings of a balkanisation and descent into sectarian gang-war, does it not?
Finally what is one to expect of a woman, a professional in the film industry, at the apotheosis of her ascent up the corridors of power in India? She will form alliances where she is best able to flow – and she will require protection from those who would conspire against her. Kangana Ranaut has done this uncompromisingly – and she can still bang out films which do better than the benchmark of “100Crores at the box-office”. A business acumen to boot, as a producer – and as an actor and artist, her work speaks for itself – Kangana Ranaut comes locked and loaded.
Love her or hate her, like her or leave her, but you cannot ignore her. Kangana Ranaut is a pure force of authentic female pressure to reckon; young, fearless, uber stylish and talented, indeed the empowered, arising feminine.
She is not asking, but the cave dwellers would do well to befriend, embrace and accept her – because she’s not going anywhere – Kangana Ranaut is here to stay.
In closing, to give this young woman (she’s only 33years old!) her deserving dues of accolades, and in celebration of her fabulous actress personae, the root of her fame and success, Kangana Ranaut’s style quotient absolutely must be noted. Her press and publicity appearances have proven time and time again, Kangana Ranaut slays. She is easily the most uniquely stylish public personality in Indian film… the bizniz; leagues ahead, in fact. Each costume in her public appearances has an impactful and clear expression of her individuality; she embodies her own, inimitable, superbly refined, studied and developed aesthetic – it’s apparent in every detail of her pr imagery, ensembles and surroundings.
Kangana Ranaut is, after all, India’s most famous and successful movie star … bar none. A woman. Shouldn’t we be celebrating? What does it tell us about ourselves, that we are instead hating on her?
Look, essentially, here it is, the DL: love it or lump it, there is no denying it.. from the pov of a wider worldview on Indian womanhood, as presented by the women of the Indian film industry, Kangana Ranaut is the coolest ish out right now. Hands down.
END NOTES : further readings on the Arising Feminine🔻
by Deepti Datt
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“I am an ardent fan of Camille Paglia, in politics, on personae, on philosophy – and in an abject refusal to be pidgeonholed into any category of any descriptive, left/right, up/down, or sideways, which modernity seems to insist upon for validity. I am wholely given to, and live by, the principles of a free mind, independent thought and the sovereignty of the conscious human soul.”
#analognomad #Freeस्त्री™ 丙午 🌺
Deepti began her career as a reader in Los Angeles with Writer’s Agent & Producer Lynn Pleshette (Truman Show). She was in-house writer/ director/ producer at Channel [V], and EP Asia Interstitials at MTV; GM of A&R and Special Projects at Universal Music, and head of electronic sub-label, ContraBass Records; she EP’d UMG’s global acquisition of Peter Gabriel/Atif Aslam original motion picture soundtrack on Director Mira Nair‘s film The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Deepti has produced and directed both, Ford Supermodels & Elite Look of the Year; produced Naomi Campbell’s Fashion for Relief for IMG, and the launch of Vogue magazine in India, in-house for Conde Nast; EP’d large-scale music and festival events; produced & directed music videos for Sony & Times, script consultant for the Step Up series EDM film, Director Scott Speers, and written, directed and produced short & long format television including for Star TV, Moser Baer/Excel Entertainment ++; interviewed Jazz legend Asha Puthli for the first Red Bull Music Academy Lecture series in India; her first feature script DEAR MIRA (working title) was one of six scripts selected for the NFDC/Binger Development Lab at the Venice Film Festival & IFFI, Goa. Her work as an artist, includes conceptual films and installations.
Deepti is on the founder’s board, and executive director India, of the Electronic Music Alliance, a California based, global 501c, non-profit which works to bring sustainable production practices to the worldwide electronic music festival arena. Deepti blogs at Civilianaire.
‘The Goa Story’ (working title) is Deepti’s debut feature film as writer and director.