MUMBAI—Now the secret can be told: India-West had interviewed Kangana Ranaut for her 2006 debut film “Gangster,” but what she spoke, full of indifference and with obvious insecurity, was so uninspiring that the interview (which lasted less than 10 minutes in a cabin at the Vishesh Films’ office) was not even good enough to be written. This writer does not even recollect whether he did write a few words or not!
Thanks to the inept PROs at that time (largely uneducated, impervious to overseas territories and full of themselves), India-West somehow never got another Ranaut meeting for years. The first time I recollect a clear interview with her was just before “Tanu Weds Manu Returns” (2015), arguably her career-finest turn apart from its earlier 2011 hit prequel and the 2013 film “Queen.”
These films took her places, but Ranaut did not change her spots. Her subsequent disasters did not mellow her or make her a warm human being either. Instead, she began to think of herself as the cat’s whiskers and claimed to be the highest-paid actress after/along with or even over Deepika Padukone!!!
Next came her potshots at her mentor Aditya Pancholi and Hrithik Roshan among others. The flops continued, and Ranaut had to stay afloat with her handful of media and industry sympathizers.
So when “Simran,” a silly film made by an overrated intellectual filmmaker trying his hand at the mainstream cinema was ready for release, a media splash was needed on the theory of “Any publicity is good publicity.” In a series of interviews, Ranaut badmouthed everyone again and even castigated the industry in general.
Alas! If wishes were horses, Ranaut would have ridden to glory!
But the verdict is out. “Simran” has been criticized and panned by all. According to the portal bollywoodhungama, it ended week one at the box office in India with just Rs.15.48 cr. And going by trends, it will end up with around Rs. 19 cr lifetime business. This means that the earnings will be less than the collections of Ranaut’s 2015 debacle “Katti Batti” (Rs. 24.41 cr) and be closer to her “Rangoon” (Rs. 20.68 cr).
Ranaut was recently seen (for a while by the trade and for all time by herself!) as the next big thing in Hindi cinema. But all these claims today have fallen like a pack of cards. Inner sources talk about the original Apurva Asrani script of “Simran” that could have worked wonders by giving her at least success, but the lady changed the script a lot, with director Hansal Mehta’s consent, and we saw the results.
Worse, her enemies are obviously having a field day celebrating her latest debacle. But even her so-called friends in the media turned their backs towards her and mocked the film. Her self-perpetuated image as a “self-made superstar who came up despite all the odds” has become a laughing stock. Her PR team had positioned her as the female Aamir Khan, probably to ward off the interference tag in her projects. But Khan’s career is almost as long as her age! And “I Love New Year,” “Katti Batti,” “Rangoon” and “Simran” are four consecutive disasters that have changed Ranaut’s stature from ‘Queen’ to ‘Flop Queen.’
All this is a bad portent for her maiden ambitious production “Manikarnika – The Queen Of Jhansi” that has already started on a bad note with Ranaut usurping the project from yet another veteran but arty director Ketan Mehta. South director Krish is now at the helm, but the cost of the film will be in multiples of “Simran.”
Can Ranaut go back to being a star from the starlet she has suddenly become? Unlike Shahid Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan (coincidentally both her co-stars in “Rangoon”), or Vidya Balan, she lacks the goodwill that these flop-ridden actors have achieved. Despite all her claims, she had never made it to the female A-list, and now, it will be a miracle if she ever does.