NEW DELHI—The quintessential heroine – on and off-screen – is not for actress Kangana Ranaut.
"I have myself as the priority always. I do not subscribe to the theory that good girls don't think about themselves and they are all for sacrifice. My life is my life, and I want to make the most of it," Kangana Ranaut told IANS over the phone from Mumbai when asked about the learnings that she wants girls to draw from her life.
"I want to utilize my potential and see who I am. It's not just about my brother, son, husband or my mother. Somewhere, I do not subscribe to the quintessential heroine, who is an ultimate Indian woman who puts everyone before her and she comes in the end for herself," added the three-time National Award winner, who is also the brand ambassador of Reebok India.
In that capacity, she attended the second edition of the brand's FitToFight Awards, which felicitated select women for their spirit and courage.
Coming from a small town in Himachal, Kangana made her debut in Bollywood with "Gangster - A Love Story" in 2006. Even though her style and accent were criticised initially, she made a mark with her strong performances in films like "Fashion," "Queen," "Tanu Weds Manu" and "Tanu Weds Manu Returns."
Her next project is "Manikarnika - The Queen of Jhansi," a biopic on Rani of Jhansi.
Off-screen, she has been actively talking about her struggle in the industry –professionally and personally. So bold and fearless is the actress that she openly tagged filmmaker Karan Johar as a "flagbearer of nepotism" during his chat show, sparking a debate in the industry.
It has been a challenge for her to face the bitter realities of society.
"It was most definitely very challenging for me to come from a small town which anyway is not very tolerant to aspirational women, especially ambitious women. You are seen as a vamp if you are ambitious, if you want to make your own money or if you don't want to be dependent.
"Women who make their choices and who fight for their rights will always be the ones who will be seen as rebels," she said.
But she feels that "as long as you don't think you are doing something wrong, it is absolutely fine."
"I never judge myself for my instincts and for my fighting spirit," she said.
Nevertheless, she admits having a voice of their own for women is difficult even in the 21st century.
"It is very difficult. These medieval social norms are very convenient for them (some people), so women and men are going to be hassled by these."
Talking about breaking the long societal norm that "girls don't fight," Kangana Ranaut said: "A modern woman is not going to keep her mouth shut if she is taken for a ride or sexually harassed or if she is not given her salary. She is not going to keep quiet, and that's why these conventional forces, these old-school minds, these patriarchal or chauvinist people, are going to be bothered and hassled."
And that is why she relates to the 'FitToFight' campaign.
"I feel somewhere women are manipulated to believe that the so-called good girl doesn't answer back, she doesn't argue – everything which is against the spirit of survival... That has been instilled in a girl child. I feel that we have got to fight that demon which has been instilled in our conscience.
"We have got to get rid of it because that is why many women succumb to social pressure. It is impossible for us not to strike back unless we give up on our lives, because when you are faced with choice between survival and surrender, humanity has survived, and it is because of the fighting spirit."