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Brand Kangana: From liberal to conservative

In 2015, Bollywood star Kangana Ranaut dominated a conversation session with superstar Kareena Kapoor and film director Imtiaz Ali at the HT Leadership Summit.

“What do you want us to talk about? Intolerance?” she had quipped in the middle of the session as she lit up a rather boring talk which was being moderated by Ali. She had then referred to Aamir Khan’s statement on rising intolerance in India.

Ranaut stole the show with her wit, straight talk and clarity of thought. She became the darling of India, especially liberals and feminists.

In 2016, Ranaut lashed out at Hrithik Roshan and even called him “silly ex.” She was hailed as the face of new India. Bold and beautiful—and a liberal icon. The media could not stop gushing about her.

Senior journalist Barkha Dutt, in an exclusive interview with her in 2016, not only called her a “feisty feminist fighter” but seemed totally in awe of her. “If a woman is sexually active, she's called a whore" and if she's "super-successful, she's called a psychopath," Ranaut said unapologetically in her interview.

Barkha was ecstatic. After all, it was Ranaut , who for th first time spoke about nepotism in Bollywood at while speaking at Karan Johar’s popular Koffee with Karan show.

The Indian Express wrote, “The bold and beautiful actor refuses to live by industry conventions and her frank statements about her alleged relationship with Hrithik Roshan was proof. When she appeared on Koffee With Karan, it was with the same candor and take-no-prisoners approach.” The gutsy Ranaut even reminded the Johar how his guests ridiculed her English.

That was then. Today the same people—liberals and feminists, who created Brand Kangana in the first place—want to disassociate themselves from her.

One wonders when everything was going right for Ranaut, what went wrong suddenly?

Even before the recent face-off between the Shiv Sena and Ranaut over Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, her comments on actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s mysterious death took everyone by surprise and opened a Pandora’s box.

She has hit out at the late actor’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty too. Ranaut has gone on a battle mode against Bollywood, accusing it of drug abuse, sexual exploitation, and every vice mankind has known. The face-off between her and Bollywood and the Maharashtra government is getting intense by the day

She has referred to Mumbai as Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and the Mumbai Police as Babar’s army, besides releasing a video in which she slams Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. In Hindi, she is seen to be warning Thackeray that his arrogance will be broken just the way her home has been demolished.

“Such outburst is not normal, it does not happen in any civilized society, differences are a way of life for us and we need to respect it,” said a political analyst.

Ranaut and her ever-growing aggression since her film Manikarnika’s release have become like an albatross across the neck of intellectuals. After all, these were the people who once hailed her as a diva fighting against patriarchy, nepotism, and other ills.

The same people and the media have now disowned her. They do not want to be seen with her or associated with her. They made her; they loved her, but now they love to hate her.

Ranaut is gaining support from a new section of people though.

While there is no doubt that Bollywood needs to be cleansed, the actor, once known as a woman of substance, is now undoing herself by playing the perpetual victim. She is a talented and successful actress, having won prestigious awards and made movies hit on her own steam. She should continue to exhibit her consummate skills onscreen—and stop tormenting us with her half-baked views on the issues she doesn’t comprehend properly..