Following Kangana Ranaut’s conversation with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev which encompassed a wide range of topics from aliens to whining about liberals – the internet simply imploded. The two of them waxed bizarre eloquence on liberals, cows, Kangana obviously plugged in her upcoming film, they were confused as to why people got angry about lynching, they innocently wondered why people were angry about Asifa Bano. They also equated violence inflicted by the Karni Sena and consequent failure to curb this by law enforcement mechanisms as “a strange kind of wisdom”. While the saffron brigade may have given her a thundering round of applause – she was also subject to a wide range of criticism.
But given the slew of reactions, I feel compelled to ask: why are we even surprised? Kangana Ranaut has never passed herself off as the vanguard for all-things progressive. Nor has she ever criticised the saffron-clad fanatics. Of course, she and Vasudev should never have made such problematic statements. But it should not have come as a shock as many of her past statements have indicated that she approves of and leans towards the Hindutva right-wing.
Quick deviation, since I always cherish a good pun:
Kangana apologists have ranaut of excuses.
— Gaurav Sabnis (@gauravsabnis) August 10, 2018
We should acknowledge that a lot of media portals once painted her as a feminist darling. Credit is due to her for stating that she would never endorse fairness creams, as well as speaking out against this industry and actors who endorse fairness products. Given Bollywood’s dependency upon advertising for corporate brands, it should be acknowledged that her comments were courageous. At that moment, she was a wonderful role model for young girls, especially those who are subject to the shaming that is based on the colour of their skin. We loved her when she told us about particular incidents from her life – fighting with her patriarchal father to become an actress, her comments on marriage and the domesticity imposed upon women, etc.
The whole messy ‘affair’ with Hrithik Rohan brought about very polarizing opinions of her in public. However, she chose to stand her ground. Another commendable initiative on her part is calling out the nepotism in Bollywood – of which two popular examples stand out: calling Karan Johar a “flag-bearer of nepotism” to his face and the ‘Bollywood Diva’ video with All India Bakchod, where she performed to a clever satirical video about the treatment meted out to actresses by Bollywood.
But then again, she has been vocal about asserting that she is a Rajput. She has been critical of her caste but still chooses to stand by it. She has made public statements about how inspired she is by Swami Vivekananda spiritually and that she owes her life to him. The same Swami Vivekananda who is a ‘flag-bearer’ of the repulsive caste system. She applauds his teachings; his teachings comprise statements such as caste being the best thing to happen to society and that the Brahmin is an ideal of humanity. Vivekananda’s comments about caste aren’t exactly subtle or hidden and comprise a crucial part of his ‘spiritual’ discourse.
She is a champion for Narendra Modi’s re-election in 2019. It is no secret which parties (BJP, Reliance, emboldening lynch mobs, etc) Narendra Modi belongs to and serves. She may have made a few commendable statements now and then. However, she is also someone who will do anything to keep herself afloat in public opinion in order to do well in the film industry. She decided that Hindutva and its supporters are the base that she wishes to cater to. She then made her bed accordingly. If you are in the mood for some high blood pressure, here’s another token for you:
Her true colours were never really hidden. To reiterate, perhaps we can spend less time worrying about Kangana Ranaut. She was always a right-winger and she never made a conscious effort to hide it. From there, perhaps we can take our focus to a more sinister pattern that is formulating in pop culture – that people like Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev are getting their own shows. In which they and fellow sell-out sycophants such as Ranveer Singh and Karan Johar can utilize each other’s social capital for the sake of box office profits and cater to a base that regularly trolls and buys box office tickets.
Featured image courtesy: The Quint