Kangana Ranaut
Kangana Ranaut

Kangana Ranaut

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Kangna Amardeep Ranaut (pronounced [kəŋɡənaː raːɳoːʈʰ]; born 23 March 1987) is an Indian actress and filmmaker who works in Hindi films. Known for her work in female-led films, she is the recipient of several awards, including four National Film Awards and five Filmfare Awards, and has featured six times in Forbes India's Celebrity 100 list. In 2020, the Government of India honoured her with the Padma Shri, the country's fourth-highest civilian award. At the age of sixteen, Ranaut took up modelling for a brief period of time. After being trained under theatre director Arvind Gaur, she made her film debut in the 2006 thriller Gangster, for which she was awarded the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut. She received praise for portraying emotionally intense characters in the dramas Woh Lamhe (2006), Life in a... Metro (2007) and Fashion (2008). For the last of these, she won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress. She appeared in the commercially successful films Raaz: The Mystery Continues (2009) and Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai (2010) but was criticised for being typecast in neurotic roles. A comic role in Tanu Weds Manu (2011) was well-received, though this was followed by a series of brief, glamorous roles in films that failed to propel her career forward. Ranaut's career prospects improved in 2013 when she played a mutant in the science fiction film Krrish 3, one of the highest-grossing Indian films. She went on to win two consecutive National Film Awards for Best Actress for playing an abandoned bride in the comedy-drama Queen (2014) and a dual role in the comedy sequel Tanu Weds Manu: Returns (2015), which was the biggest-earning female-led Hindi film at the time. This was followed by several commercial failures and a decline in stardom. Her sole successful venture in this period was her co-directorial venture, the biopic Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (2019). Her portrayal of the titular warrior in it and her part as a sportswoman in Panga (2020) jointly earned her a fourth National Film Award. In 2020, Ranaut launched her own production company named Manikarnika Films under which she works as director and producer. She is credited in the media as one of the best-dressed celebrities in the country, and is known to be outspoken. The opinions she has voiced, aligning with right-wing ideologies, along with frequent clashes in her personal and professional relationships have sparked controversy.

Early life and background

Ranaut was born on 23 March 1987 at Bhambla (now Surajpur), a small town in the Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh, into a Rajput family. Her mother, Asha Ranaut, is a school teacher, and her father, Amardeep Ranaut, is a businessman. She has an elder sister, Rangoli Chandel, who as of 2014 works as her manager and a younger brother, Akshat. Her great-grandfather, Sarju Singh Ranaut, was a Member of the Legislative Assembly and her grandfather was an officer for the Indian Administrative Service. She grew up in a joint family at their ancestral haveli (mansion) in Bhambla, and described her childhood as "simple and happy".According to Ranaut, she was "stubborn and rebellious" while growing up: "If my father would gift my brother a plastic gun and get a doll for me, I would not accept that. I questioned the discrimination." She did not subscribe to the stereotypes that were expected of her and experimented with fashion from a young age, often pairing up accessories and clothes that would seem "bizarre" to her neighbours. Ranaut was educated at the DAV School in Chandigarh, where she pursued science as her core subject, remarking that she was "very studious" and "always paranoid about [...] results". She initially intended to become a doctor on the insistence of her parents. However, a failed unit test in chemistry during her twelfth grade led Ranaut to reconsider her career prospects and despite preparing for the All India Pre Medical Test, she did not turn up for the exam. Determined to find her "space and freedom", she relocated to Delhi at the age of sixteen. Her decision not to pursue medicine led to constant feuding with her parents and her father refused to sponsor a pursuit he considered to be aimless.In Delhi, Ranaut was unsure which career to choose; the Elite Modelling Agency were impressed by her looks and suggested that she model for them. She took on a few modelling assignments, but generally disliked the career as she found "no scope for creativity". Ranaut decided to shift focus towards acting and joined the Asmita Theatre Group, where she trained under the theatre director Arvind Gaur. She participated in Gaur's theatre workshop at the India Habitat Centre, acting in several of his plays, including the Girish Karnad-scripted Taledanda. During a performance, when one of the male actors went missing, Ranaut played his part along with her original role of a woman. A positive reaction from the audience prompted her to relocate to Mumbai to pursue a career in film and she enrolled herself for a four-month acting course in Asha Chandra's drama school.Ranaut struggled with her meager earnings during this period, eating only "bread and aachar (pickle)". Refusing her father's financial assistance led to a rift in their relationship which she later regretted. Her relatives were unhappy with her decision to enter the film-making industry, and they did not correspond with her for several years. She reconciled with them after the release of Life in a... Metro in 2007.

2004–2008: Film debut and critical acclaim

In 2004, the producers Ramesh Sharma and Pahlaj Nilani announced that Ranaut would make her film debut with the Deepak Shivdasani-directed I Love You Boss. The following year, an agent took her to the office of the producer Mahesh Bhatt, where she interacted with the director Anurag Basu and auditioned for the lead role in the romantic thriller Gangster. Bhatt felt she was too young for the role and signed Chitrangada Singh instead. However, Singh was later unavailable to do the film and Ranaut was contracted as a replacement for Gangster, opting out of I Love You Boss. She was cast in the central role of Simran, an alcoholic woman caught in a romantic triangle between a notorious gangster (Shiney Ahuja) and a sympathetic friend (Emraan Hashmi). Ranaut was only seventeen while filming and said that she "had difficulty first in understanding and then unwinding from the character", describing her craft as "raw and immature". Released in 2006, Gangster emerged as a critical and commercial success. Raja Sen of Rediff.com said that "Kangana is a remarkable find, the actress coming across with great conviction". She won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut, along with various other debut awards.Ranaut's next role was in the Mohit Suri-directed drama Woh Lamhe (2006), a semi-biographical film based on the schizophrenic actress Parveen Babi and her relationship with the director Mahesh Bhatt. She said that portraying Babi had left her emotionally drained, as she had begun to "feel her desolation and loneliness." The film critic Subhash K. Jha of Sify wrote that Ranaut was the first Bollywood actress since Smita Patil and Shabana Azmi "who isn't scared to strip her soul naked for the camera", adding that she is a "hugely expressive actress with a phenomenal ability to convey torment, hurt and incredulity through the eyes". Despite positive reviews, the film underperformed at the box office.The following year, Ranaut portrayed an aspiring musician in Suneel Darshan's musical thriller Shakalaka Boom Boom, alongside Bobby Deol, Upen Patel and Celina Jaitly. The film's production was marred by a dispute between Ranaut and Darshan; she objected to her voice being dubbed by another artist, but he insisted that he needed a particular "twang and accent" for her character. India Today described the film as an "amateur mess" and the film proved to be a box office flop. She next reunited with Anurag Basu for the ensemble drama Life in a... Metro, playing the supporting role of Neha, a shrewd socialite engaged in an affair with her married boss (Kay Kay Menon). Despite a poor initial run at the box office, the film emerged as a profitable venture. Khalid Mohamed of Hindustan Times was critical of the film, noting its lack of originality and realism. In a more positive review, Raja Sen wrote that Ranaut "is refreshing [...] and manages to herd her emotions well, playing a complex role but hardly ever overreaching", but criticised her delivery of English lines. For her role, Ranaut was awarded the Stardust Award for Breakthrough Performance – Female.Ranaut next portrayed a village girl in Dhaam Dhoom (2008), a Tamil romantic thriller, opposite Jayam Ravi. Production on the film was temporarily halted when the director, Jeeva, died of cardiac arrest and the film was completed by the crew members. A review carried by Post wrote that Ranaut had "little scope" in a role that did not suit her. India Today described her next film, the drama Fashion (2008), as a "landmark" in her career. Set against the backdrop of the Indian fashion industry, the film features Ranaut as Shonali Gujral, a substance abusing supermodel struggling to cope with her foundering career. Because the media speculated that her role was based on the former model Geetanjali Nagpal (which Ranaut denied), the Delhi Commission for Women ordered a stay on the film's release, approving it only after a script narration. With a worldwide revenue of ₹600 million (US$7.9 million), Fashion was a commercial success. Ranaut's performance drew unanimous critical acclaim. Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama praised her confident portrayal of the character, and Nikhat Kazmi added that she "does an exquisite metamorphosis from a wispy, high-strung, nervous child-woman to a stunning ramp diva." Ranaut's portrayal earned her several awards, including the National Film Award and Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress.

2009–2012: Career fluctuations

The supernatural horror film Raaz: The Mystery Continues from director Mohit Suri was Ranaut's first film release of 2009, in which she played a successful model who is possessed by a ghost. The film co-starred Emraan Hashmi and Adhyayan Suman and proved to be a financial success. Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express noted that Ranaut was becoming stereotyped in roles that required her to be "hysterical", adding that she needed a "radical change of image". Also that year, she played the leading lady in the drama Vaada Raha and the Telugu action film Ek Niranjan, neither of which were particularly notable. In a brief role in Anurag Basu's romantic thriller Kites (2010), Ranaut portrayed the fiancée of Hrithik Roshan's character. She said that she felt "cheated" after watching the film, as her role proved to be much smaller than what she had initially signed on for. She then portrayed fictional film actress Rehana in the Milan Luthria-directed gangster film Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai. Also starring Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi and Prachi Desai, the film chronicles the rise and subsequent fall of an underworld don (Devgn) in the 1970s. Ranaut said that her character was "a mix" of the actress Madhubala and the gangster Haji Mastan's wife and that to prepare she observed the work of the actresses Zeenat Aman and Parveen Babi. The film was one of the most successful releases of the year and garnered positive reviews from critics. Sudhish Kamath of The Hindu labelled her a "delight" and Mid-Day's Sarita Tanwar praised her for being "totally convincing" in the role. After playing a television reporter in the thriller Knock Out, Ranaut actively looked for a comedy and found the role in Anees Bazmee's No Problem, but both films failed to propel her career forward.According to Bollywood Hungama, after establishing a reputation for portraying neurotic characters, Ranaut was seeking projects that would be "less emotionally exhausting" for her. Her first release of 2011 was Anand L. Rai's Tanu Weds Manu, a romantic comedy opposite R. Madhavan, which Ranaut considers a "game changer" for her. Rai stated that he cast her for the role to illustrate that the actress was capable of playing other roles and that her character in the film was unlike any of those that she had played previously. Critical reaction to the film was mixed, though Ranaut's performance was praised. Rajeev Masand wrote, "Kangana Ranaut is a pleasant surprise in a cheery, upbeat part that we haven't seen her take on before. She rises to the challenge, only hampered occasionally by her mangled dialogue delivery." Ranaut received Best Actress nominations at several award ceremonies, including Screen and Zee Cine.Ranaut followed the success of Tanu Weds Manu by starring in a series of brief, glamorous roles in four other films of 2011: Game, Double Dhamaal, Rascals and Miley Naa Miley Hum. With the exception of Double Dhamaal, none of these films performed well. In a review for Rascals, Gaurav Malani of The Times of India wrote: "Kangana Ranaut is ill at ease in comedy. She struggles to hold her own and emerges as a bimbo in her act." Ranaut later said that she did some of these films due to a dearth of film offers. The following year, Ranaut portrayed a supporting role opposite Ajay Devgn in Priyadarshan's action thriller Tezz, another box office flop.

2013–2015: Established actress

The director Sanjay Gupta cast Ranaut in a brief role opposite John Abraham in the crime thriller Shootout at Wadala (2013) due to her ability to stand out in a predominantly male-centric film. The Daily News and Analysis' Tushar Joshi wrote that her role was written "to provide the sex quotient" and critic Vinayak Chakravorty opined that she "does not get much scope [...] beyond the steamy lovemaking grind". Commercially, the film performed moderately well. Ranaut achieved success later in 2013 for her portrayal a shapeshifting mutant in Rakesh Roshan's science fiction film Krrish 3, alongside Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra and Vivek Oberoi. She initially declined the offer, given her disappointment with her role in Kites, which Rakesh Roshan produced. After other actresses had similarly turned down the role, Roshan approached Ranaut again and promised a better role, and she eventually accepted. Critics thought that Krrish 3 was entertaining but lacking in originality, though her performance garnered praise. Sarita Tanwar of Daily News and Analysis said "she is delightful as an alien making the weird hair and clothes work for her. She even manages to make you feel her pain. Quite an accomplishment that!" Earning ₹3 billion (US$39 million) worldwide, it emerged as one of the highest-grossing Bollywood films of all time, becoming Ranaut's most financially profitable venture. Ranaut later played the eponymous lead in the musical drama Rajjo, a critical and commercial failure. Her portrayal of a nautch girl was largely criticised, with Rediff.com's Paloma Sharma commenting that she "struggles with her Mumbaiyya dialogues and is not as graceful in the dance sequences as one would have expected".In 2014, Ranaut established herself in Hindi cinema when she featured in the coming-of-age dramedy Queen; she also co-wrote the dialogues with Anvita Dutt Guptan. She played Rani, a naive girl who embarks on her honeymoon alone after her fiancé (Rajkummar Rao) calls off their wedding. Ranaut, who describes herself as "independent and confident", reflected that the role was one of the toughest she had played, as the character's personality traits contrasted with her own. The film and Ranaut's performance received unanimous acclaim from critics. Devesh Sharma of Filmfare wrote that the fact that she "flits from one aspect of her character to another without breaking stride shows her maturity as an actor". The film emerged as a box office hit, and she won both the Filmfare Award and the National Film Award for Best Actress for it. Ranaut followed the success by playing an aggressive politician in the black comedy Revolver Rani and a medical intern in the political drama Ungli (both 2014). Also that year, she made her production and directorial debut with an English language short film entitled The Touch, dealing with the relationship between a four-year-old boy and a dog; she co-wrote the screenplay with an Australian writer and filmed it in America.The following year, Ranaut starred in Tanu Weds Manu: Returns (2015), a sequel to Tanu Weds Manu, in which she portrayed dual roles—she reprised the character of Tanuja from the original and also portrayed an aspiring athlete in it. In preparation for the latter role, she interacted with students of the University of Delhi in disguise; in addition, she attended workshops to learn the Haryanvi language and trained in the sport of triple jump. The film received positive reviews from critics and Ranaut's performance was considered its prime asset. Sweta Kaushal of Hindustan Times praised her for perfecting the body languages and accents of the two women, and Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV wrote that she "fleshes out this pair of distinct individuals with such energy and finesse that it becomes difficult at times to tell that it is the same actress playing the two roles". Tanu Weds Manu Returns earned over ₹2.4 billion (US$31 million) worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing Bollywood film featuring a female protagonist. Ranaut won a Filmfare Critics Award and a second consecutive National Film Award for Best Actress, and received an additional Best Actress nomination at Filmfare.Also in 2015, Ranaut appeared in the romantic comedies I Love NY (a production delayed since 2013) and Nikhil Advani's Katti Batti, both of which failed at the box office. The latter saw her play opposite Imran Khan as a cancer patient, a role that critic Uday Bhatia of Mint thought "lack the sort of definition she's had in her last few roles".

2017–present: Professional expansion

After a year-long absence from the screen, Ranaut starred as Julia, a 1940s heroine and stunt-woman in Vishal Bhardwaj's romance Rangoon (2017). Modelled on the actress Fearless Nadia, Ranaut played the part as an "amalgamation of many characters" from that era, and was particularly drawn towards the "fierceness and sensuality" she found in her. She learned horse-riding and sword fighting and performed her own stunts. Media reports suggested a feud between Ranaut and Kapoor, and although they denied these, both stars publicly commented against the other. Rangoon received generally positive reviews, with praise drawn to Ranaut's performance. Rohit Vats of Hindustan Times labelled Ranaut as "terrific", and NDTV ranked Ranaut as one of the best actress of the year. She received a nomination for the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress. In the same year, Ranaut starred in Simran, a crime comedy by Hansal Mehta, in which she played a Gujarati immigrant in the United States involved in criminal activities. She shared the screenwriting credit with Apurva Asrani for improvising several dialogues on set, but Asrani accused Ranaut and Mehta for not valuing his contributions to the script. Ranaut's performance in Simran was praised. Both Rangoon and Simran failed at the box office.At the 67th National Film Awards, Ranaut was awarded a fourth Best Actress Award for Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (2019) and Panga (2020). For the former, a biopic of the Indian freedom fighter Rani of Jhansi, she also served as a co-director when Krish left the film after frequently clashing with the actress. Her co-star Sonu Sood also quit the production due to disagreements with her. Ranaut subsequently reshot a significant portion of the film, due to which its production cost doubled. Rajeev Masand considered the film to be "a deliberately simplistic film; an old-fashioned patriotic saga told in the broadest of strokes, and with full nationalist fervor", but he commended Ranaut for "command[ing] the screen with a fiery, arresting presence, never letting your attention wander away from her". It performed moderately well at the box office. In her second film release of 2019, Ranaut reunited with Rajkummar Rao in the black comedy Judgementall Hai Kya, in which she played a mentally ill woman. Although underperformed at the box office, ThePrint's Madhavi Pothukuchi lauded her for portraying "all the shades with expertise". She received Filmfare Award nominations for her performances in both films.Ranaut began the new decade with Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari's sports film Panga. She portrayed a young mother and homemaker who trains to stage a comeback in kabaddi. The film, along with Ranaut's performance in it, received critical acclaim; Anupama Chopra of Film Companion noted the sensitivity in her performance. It emerged as one of the year's highest-grossing films. In 2020, Ranaut founded her production company, Manikarnika Films, and the next year, appeared in the biopic Thalaivii (2021), in which she and Arvind Swamy played the actor-turned-politicians J. Jayalalithaa and M. G. Ramachandran, respectively. The film was met with mixed reviews from critics, who generally praised her performance. Baradwaj Rangan stated that Jayalalithaa "channels and mimics the lack of power, the frustrations, the disappointments and the fact of what it meant to be a woman in politics back then", and complimented Ranaut for "[putting] all of this across beautifully"; in contrast, Srivatsan S. from The Hindu believed she was miscast in the role, adding that Swamy's role is more lengthy than that of Ranaut. In 2022, Ranaut hosted a OTT reality show called Lock Upp which is streaming on Alt Balaji and MX Player.Ranaut will portray an Indian Air Force pilot in Sarvesh Mewara's Tejas, a spy in Razneesh Ghai's Dhaakad, Indira Gandhi in her second directorial project, Emergency, and the Hindu goddess Sita in Alaukik Desai's The Incarnation: Sita. She will also produce the black comedy film Tiku Weds Sheru, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Avneet Kaur.

Personal life

Ranaut has stated that her initial years in the film industry were marred with difficulties as she was unprepared to be an actress. She was conscious of her poor command of the English language and struggled to "fit in". In a 2013 interview with Daily News and Analysis, Ranaut recollected: "People in the industry treated me like I didn't deserve to be spoken to and I was some unwanted object. I couldn't speak English fluently and people made fun of me for that. So dealing with rejection became a part of life. ... All that has taken a toll, I guess. I find it hard to deal with praise. Today, when people say that I have made it and made it on my own, I feel like locking up myself somewhere ... It scares me." During the struggle, Ranaut found support in the actor Aditya Pancholi and his wife Zarina Wahab and considered them her "family away from home". She became embroiled in a well publicised scandal when the media speculated on the nature of her relationship with Pancholi. She declined to speak about it openly, although she made several public appearances with him. In 2007 it was reported that Ranaut had filed a police complaint against Pancholi for physically assaulting her under the influence of alcohol. The following year Pancholi confirmed the affair in an interview, saying that he had been cohabiting with Ranaut in the past and accused her of owing him ₹2.5 million (US$33,000). In response, Ranaut's spokesperson said that "after physically assaulting her in the middle of a road, he has no right to expect anything from her", adding that she had "already given ₹5 million (US$66,000) to [him] as a goodwill gesture". Ranaut later said that the incident had left her "physically and mentally" damaged.While filming Raaz: The Mystery Continues in 2008, Ranaut began a romantic relationship with co-star Adhyayan Suman. On Suman's insistence that he focus on his professional career, the couple separated the following year. From 2010 to 2012, Ranaut was involved in a long-distance romance with Nicholas Lafferty, an English doctor; she described the relationship as "the most normal" she ever had, but the couple split amicably as she was not ready for marriage. She has since maintained that she will never get married, and has expressed a desire to not be bound by a relationship. In 2016, Hrithik Roshan, her co-star from Krrish 3, filed a lawsuit against Ranaut accusing her of cyber stalking and harassment. Denying the charges, Ranaut filed a counter-charge against Roshan, claiming that his lawsuit was an attempt to cover-up their affair for the benefit of his divorce proceedings. The case was closed later that year owing to lack of evidence.Ranaut lives in Mumbai with her sister Rangoli, who was the victim of an acid attack in 2006. She makes yearly visits to her hometown of Bhambla. A practicing Hindu, Ranaut follows the teachings of the spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda and considers meditation to be "the highest form of worshipping God". She practices vegetarianism and was listed as "India's hottest vegetarian" in a poll conducted by PETA in 2013. Since 2009 Ranaut has been studying the dance form of kathak from the Nateshwar Nritya Kala Mandir. She has said that the technical process of filmmaking is of tremendous interest to her, and to better her understanding of it Ranaut enrolled in a two-month screenplay writing course at the New York Film Academy in 2014. In an interview with Filmfare she said that despite her stardom, she wants to lead a normal life: "I don't want to lose my rights as a common person to learn and grow".
Source: Wikipedia

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