Kangana Ranaut is on a high after winning the National Award for Best Actress for her performance in Queen (2014), her second in her eight-year-long acting career. She, however, says that her Bollywood journey has been a roller-coaster ride. The actor, who feels that she still has a long way to go but is happy with the way her career has shaped up, talks about films, life, marriage and more.
You look really excited after winning the National Award.
(Laughs) Yes, I am really excited. In fact, I am very happy… I am happy because I won it for Queen. It was a small film with not too many stars but everyone loved the film. It had a simple story and the films became one of the biggest surprise hits of the years. So, I am happy that I won the National Award for a good film.
Candid camera: Kangana at the National Awards function.
Is a National Award always a confidence booster?
It definitely is. The response this time has been really overwhelming. When you are in the industry for almost eight-nine years, you make a lot of friends. These friends have been constantly cheering for me. So, definitely this time it is even more special because I have been able to make them happy. There have been messages, phone calls and flowers still coming in. I came to this industry in 2006 and won my first National Award for Fashion in 2008. I didn't know too many people at that time, so the response was quite different from what it has been this time.
Coming from a small town with no background in films, you have made it really big in Bollywood within a short span of time. How much has life changed?
It definitely has changed. I don't take pride in saying that I made it big in Bollywood without a background in films. In fact, I still have a long way to go. I think everyone in this industry has to struggle. I too had my share of struggle. I was only 18 when I came to films and I didn't know anything about the industry. I grew up in Bambla in Himachal Pradesh, which is really a small town where everyone knows each other. That was a time when I wanted to run away from the mountains because I found them very boring. It was a big decision… I was always rebellious. (Laughs) Today, after eight years, I have calmed down a lot. I am more mature now. I see the same hills in a different way. I love the hills now. I crave for my family and try to go back home whenever I get a chance. Today I always want to have them around given that I more or less have my future plans chalked out. I know what I should do now and there is a sense of settlement that is working within me.
Does that mean marriage?
Not really. Marriage is just one of them. I am concentrating more on my career. I feel I am getting better offers now and films should be my focus now.
A still from Queen: The film about a middle class Delhi girl who finds herself while alone on her honeymoon captured India's imagination.
You have always said that you have inhibitions about marriage?
I don't have inhibitions but I have certainly seen a lot in my life. I never said that I am against marriage but to be honest, it is very difficult to hold on to relationships in this industry. If you plan to marry an actor and the career graph of both are not at the same level it gives birth to complexities. If you are not successful like your spouse then complexities grow. You start becoming jealous and the relationship starts faltering. Then there are so many successful people in the industry that you might start getting attracted to other people, thus making things even more complex. I feel it's almost next to impossible for me to marry someone from this industry. However, I don't have any concrete plans for marriage right now because films are my priority.
Queen was a turning point in your career.
Not only for me but I feel it has been a turning point for the industry. It has been a path-breaking film and a lot of things have changed after Queen… the way screenplays are being written, the way romance is being shows. It has made a difference in every department from casting, costumes, dialogues, music -- almost everything. I consider it to be a landmark film because it was a single-woman protagonist driven film. In fact there wasn't a single frame in the film without me. When Queen released, most people didn't count it as a mainstream film but now they perceive it as a mainstream film.
Your upcoming release, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, too is a sequel to a film that was a surprise hit.
Yes (laughs) I have always given surprises. But this film is certainly big because Tanu Weds Manu was a big hit. It's again a film I enjoyed doing because not too many films are made where romance between a married couple is shown. Most films end with the couple getting married. The sequel takes off from exactly where we had left. The story focuses on Tanu and Manu's romance four years after their marriage.
Double the fun: A picture from Tanu Weds Manu Returns.
You have a double role in the film.
I think that was the biggest challenge. It is always difficult to make a sequel when the story takes off from exactly where it was left in the last film because a lot of things change in four years, particularly the physical appearance of the actors. In this case, it was easy because the story starts four years after the marriage. The bigger challenge was learning Haryanvi but I had a very good teacher who made things look so easy.
How do you go about choosing scripts?
Luckily, I am in position today where I can choose films. But there was a time I didn't have that option. Today scripts are being written keeping me in mind, so I have that advantage now. I primarily decide to do a film if I like the script. It doesn't matter who is opposite me or Queen wouldn't have happened.
Don't you think that you have been lucky to get spotted easily and have done quite a few good films within a short span of time?
(Smiles again) I think I had my share of both good and bad luck. I started with a good film like Gangster but nothing much was happening after that. I got good projects like Life in a …Metro, Fashion and Once Upon a Time in Mumbai. I was getting good roles but I hardly had 15 minutes of screen time. It was a difficult time. At times I used to get extremely depressed. I was young at that time and I could easy have gone back and completed my studies but I decided to stay here. Tanu Weds Manu gave me encouragement. Things started changing with Krrish 3 and then Queen happened. It hasn't been a very easy journey but I am certainly happy today because things are a lot brighter now.