Ever since Queen (2014) released, there’s been no looking back for Kangana Ranaut. Today, she is reportedly the highest paid actress in Bollywood. While she is being selective about the films she signs, she has her kitty full with an increasing number of brand endorsements. Yet, Kangana feels she isn’t paid as well as many male stars in Bollywood.
You are the highest paid actress in Bollywood. That must feel great?
To be honest, I feel like I’m still underpaid, in comparison to my male counterparts. I think guys still get paid a lot more than girls do. But now, women have found expression in cinema. Our roles are not limited to two scenes and one item song. I can’t speak for everyone, but as far as my characters are concerned, I invest a significant amount of my life — even a whole year — for one role.
This is an age-old disparity but…
And it is unfortunate. Yes, I’m getting what I’m getting, and I work very hard for it. But when I find a companion — and let’s say, I marry a very rich guy — I will want to contribute equally to our life. I want to be in a relationship of equals. Why is it presumed that women have to take care of their shopping and lipsticks, etc., and that that’s the only thing they need money for? We have to stop looking at women’s salaries like that. I remember, a film producer once asked me, “What do you need the money for?” Why do they think like that? We’re three of us — my sister, my brother and I — and we all take care of our parents. I want to make as much money as my male counterparts.
In the last couple of years, you have been signed by over 15 brands. Is that difficult to manage?
It’s tough. But today, the definition of the Indian woman has changed. So, for them, to have me on board as a brand ambassador says a lot about society. Here’s this girl, who doesn’t have a very rosy past and who doesn’t have a holier-than-thou image. But, people want their brand to be represented by a woman like that. I love this evolution of our society and country. I’m more than happy to be myself, and yet to be wanted and appreciated.
You had done a script-writing course abroad. Do you see yourself pursuing that aspect of film-making?
Firstly, the credit for that has to go to Vikas (Bahl; film-maker). During Queen, I had very raw talent when it came to script-writing, but Vikas really encouraged me to write my own lines. Later, he and Kashyap (Anurag; film-maker) insisted on giving me credit for it in the film. When I was shooting for Queen, I thought no one would see it. I thought my career was over. So, I remember telling Vikas that maybe this can be an alternate career option for me. I have to give them both credit for pushing me to do this.
And that movie ended up resurrecting your career…
That’s what I like about life. It’s full of magic. I think everything that happens — good, bad or accidental — has proven to be the most amazing miracle. Because of my struggle, I don’t react to accidents, goof-ups or blunders by people. Even if it happens in front of me, I don’t react like an ordinary person. People tell me that I’m very comfortable even when things go haywire. That’s simply because I trust the rhythm of life.