Et Tu, Kangana? As she picks on a journalist, Kangana Ranaut falls prey to her own nemesis, 'toxic celebrity'!
It is now a sad truth that celebrities in positions of power will almost certainly abuse it. They could be Karan Johar. Or, ironically, Kangana Ranaut.
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Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi was a bad film.
There, I said it. The content, the intent was not bad — but the product was horrendous.
And Kangana Ranaut as Manikarnika was appalling.
Me, expressing this view as a reviewer or as a movie lover, is not akin to a “smear campaign”. It’s just that — a view, an opinion, not a smear campaign. That’s what Kangana apparently doesn’t get.
A clip from a press conference of Judgementall Hai Kya, featuring a conversation — a nasty altercation, to be honest — between lead actor Kangana Ranaut and a journalist, Justin Rao, has gone viral. The clip starts with Justin, a PTI journalist, introducing himself to the actors before asking a question — the norm at press conferences: the mic is circulated in the audience, journalists wait their turn to ask questions.
Except Kangana had already made up her mind that Justin was apparently her “dushman” — because he “bashed” her film Manikarnika.
The exchange turns really nasty. The MC intervenes, only to be shouted at by another journalist who wanted him to back off and let Kangana and Justin finish talking. Eventually, the mic was taken from Justin — Kangana’s mic wasn’t — and handed to another reporter who shot a question to Rajkummar Rao, Kangana’s co-star, both awkwardly trying to cut the tension in the room. Finally, Ekta Kapoor, producer, Judgementall Hai Kya, steps in to end the fight.
The press conference goes on as usual.
The instant reaction that most social media commentators had is: Why did the press not back Justin?
Indeed, that was shameful. In my view, there should have been an immediate boycott of the event and no journo should have pointed a question to anyone on the dais.
It wouldn't have been the first time the press would ever boycott a star — the paparazzi unanimously walked out of Baba Siddiqui’s Iftar party, a high-profile Mumbai celebrity do that gets tons of media attention every year, because they were reportedly mistreated. This meant no pictures of Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan hugging and breaking biryani together.
Back in the 70s, Amitabh Bachchan faced a 15-year media ban — at the prime of his career. Films like Deewar, Sharabi, Muquaddar Ka Sikander, Lawaaris, Natwarlal and more received no coverage whatsoever.
But the bigger issue here is a noticeable pattern — something we spotted in another video going viral recently, an interview of Sandeep Reddy Vanga, director, Kabir Singh with Film Companion’s Anupama Chopra.
And that is toxic celebrity.
Where celebrities, in positions of power — and by power, I mean riding on the success of a film — feel it is okay to hold someone by their collar and charge them for having an opinion that is slightly different from theirs.
But it was very ironic when it came from Kangana.
When you realise the woman who once had the courage to stand up against nepotism, batting for everyone to have a voice and a presence in the film industry, regardless of whether you come from a film family or not, now uses her position to apparently intimidate voices that dare to speak against her.
The truth is, Kangana Ranaut always received utmost respect from the media for being as gutsy as she is.
Today, however, she’s lost my respect.
I will definitely not shy away from critiquing her appalling performance in Manikarnika, and if Judgementall Hai Kya turns out to be disappointing, I will “bash” it too.
It will still not be a "smear campaign", Kangana. It will be me expressing my opinion.
Please deal with that.