We saw her for the first time on silver screen in Gangster. At 17, Kangana Ranaut got a rather complex character to portray on screen (that of an alcoholic and a woman stuck between two men). At 26, she's being touted as the next Queen of Bollywood, after delivering a flawless performance in Vikas Bahl's Queen.
These two characters are starkly different, and say something about the girl who loves to challenge herself with tricky roles and manages to add a different dimension to her character every time. Her mentors/directors map the journey of Kangana Ranaut.
KANGANA: THE SHARP OBSERVER AND A DETERMINED ACTOR
Kangana, the girl from the mountains, as she describes herself, was determined to make her place in Bollywood. It was her drive to succeed which impressed her first mentor, theatre personality Arvind Gaur. "She impressed me with her commitment and determination to excel at our very first meeting. She had come to attend my theatre workshop at India Habitat Centre, but was late by two days. I had to take her in for she was so keen to learn," says the theatre veteran.
Gaur did not regret mentoring the actor and considers her one of his best students till date. "One thing that separated her from others was her drive to constantly improve herself and go into the detailing of her character. While doing theatre with me, she not only used to get into the skin of her character, but also make it a point to observe other people portraying their characters. In fact, she saved me from a crisis once."
And what was it, we wonder?
"One hour before a particular show of Girish Karnad's Rakt-Kalyan, one of the actors playing a crucial character went missing. It was a male character, that of a pandit. Struck with panic, I asked who can step into his shoes. Kangana raised her hand. Everyone laughed. She did not bat an eyelid. She said she just needed half-an-hour to prepare. Puzzled, I asked her, if she knew the dialogues and the nuances. She said she was observing the character from a distance and had an idea about the dialogues and body language. I had no option but to give her a chance, and she didn't disappoint me. She not only played the male character, but also changed clothes in time to play her original role of a woman. Do I need say more?" says the breathless Gaur, who could go on and on about his bright student.
KANGANA IS THE QUEEN, SHE'LL CONTINUE TO SPIN MAGIC
Director Anand L Rai cannot agree with Arvind Gaur more. In fact, the Tanu Weds Manu director cannot praise Kangana enough for her performance in Queen.
"I expect something magical from her now," says Kangana's Tanu Weds Manu director Anand L Rai, adding, "with Queen she has reached a level, what's going to follow is another level."
"Tanu was a tough character but with Queen, she has surpassed her performance in my film, and I know she will beat this performance with her next. The other day I told Vikas Bahl (director of Queen) and Kangana, 'thank you for the film'. Kangana is simply superb in Queen."
So how has Kangana evolved as an actor? "More than the growth, her understanding of life has gone to a different level. She is now more aware of her surrounding than before. She has evolved as a person, and that shows in her acting skills. If you ask me, she has taken a tremendous leap as an actor in the last two-three years and that makes me happy," says an elated Rai.
What is that separates her from other actors?
"Kangana might be good or bad, but she can't be a fake. She can never pretend. I have got a lifelong friend in Kangana. She was always clear that she wanted to work in her own space and not become a mere prop in the male-dominated Bollywood. And that's what she's doing. I would say she's capable of writing her own success and failure," adds Rai.
KANGANA'S EXPERIMENTS WITH HER ROLES
Another thing that works in favour of Kangana is that she's not trapped in an image.
Agrees her Queen director Vikas Bahl. "Kangana doesn't have a style of her own. She believes in surprising her directors and audiences by adding a different dimension to herself each time she attempts a character. She's extremely professional and strives for excellence," says Bahl.
With Revolver Rani, Kangana is once again venturing into the unknown. In fact, she's entering the territory of the Khans and Kumars of Bollywood with Sai Kabir's next as she wields the revolver. Are you ready for another bang?