Everyone knows Kangna Ranaut, the accomplished actress of today. Here, she talks of her past and how it has made her the person she is.
What sort of a child were you?
I was very quiet. I used to suck my thumb. Other kids would never play with me and I would be sitting in one corner. There was something very strange about me. I didn’t live in the present. I was always in a dream world. I would be dreaming about the shows that I watched like Aladdin or Snow White and I would want to go to their world. My father would hate that I sucked my thumb, he would slap me and put my finger down and then I would cry.
Were your parents strict with you?
I was never a naughty child, never troubled my mother. If you ask my parents they will say that I was very quiet, very peaceful and very scared of them. If they asked me to sit somewhere after five hours I would still be there.
Did you lead a very restricted life?
Yeah, I did. I wasn’t allowed to leave home after 6 o’clock so I would always make sure that I would go out late in the night. Then when my parents would say something like, ‘Andhera ho gaya hai, tum late aayi,’ I would just say ‘yes’. Slowly I became a person who wouldn’t listen to anyone. My father would be very upset with the clothes that I would wear. I don’t know what I wanted to prove. Now when I go home, I usually wear a salwaar kameez and wonder, why was I torturing them? (laughs)
A lot of the restriction came from living in a joint family. I remember having the biggest fights with my grandfather and every one’s jaw would just drop. Nobody had the guts to answer back to him and I was only 12 when I started doing so. He is an IAS officer and had lived all his life in Mumbai and for some strange reason he would always say that first all the males of the family would eat and then the females. I didn’t approve of rules like that and would insist on joining the men at the table. He would leave the table. My parents were quite embarrassed because of me.
When was the first time you fell in love?
I was quite young. He was my English teacher, a very good looking guy and I was just a 13-year-old. That was the time I became aware of my sexuality. We were very comfortable with each other because he had been my teacher since I was eight or nine. But when I was thirteen and he would say, ‘Beta come here..’ or something like that, I would think what’s wrong with him, he doesn’t have to talk this way (laughs aloud). That was a beautiful romance because in my mind I used to romance him and he would be teaching me.
How does living in a small town (Manali) compare to living in Mumbai?
These are two completely different worlds. This one is completely fake and that one is the real world. In Manali people live with animals. They feed them fodder and clean them too. So much of nature is involved there that you stay balanced. Here you deal with cars, roads, buildings and if you see a beggar, you treat him like a building and you treat a building like a human being. There is no reality here. I see so much of balance there, I see no balance here.
What were you studying in Delhi?
Basically I went there for my vacations and then I decided to take admission in some college. Then I met a few people there and got into theatre. If you ask me honestly, I cannot recollect that time. I was like an animal, just wandering around. If someone was going to a modelling agency, I too would go with that person. I wasn’t aware of my actions at all which is a very pathetic and shameful way to live but I was living a life like that.
So coming to Mumbai was also a part of that life?
Yes, my agency Elite sent me to Mumbai. I didn’t ask why I am going to Mumbai or what I will do in Mumbai. I came to Mumbai because I thought everybody came to Mumbai after Delhi. Then one fine day I stopped taking calls from the agency. I stopped going to the auditions. I used to go to town taking trains to give auditions and then within seven days of it all I was fed up. Then I said, ‘Forget it! I am not going to any audition as I don’t get any work.’
Isn’t it all difficult for a young girl to manage?
It is and that’s what gets you into trouble. How do people get into problems? Actually they are the biggest problems for themselves. I got carried away with the life here, the nightlife, discos and the whole city life.
You didn’t have any aspirations?
From childhood I would tell my parents and I would become somebody very famous. They used to be very rude to me when I would say this but for me it was always a matter of fact. I knew I was going to be what I wanted to be even if I had no idea what that was.
And when you were rejected at the auditions, did it dent in your confidence?
It did. I went through a lot of insecurities. I was leading a very random life for a year before I got Gangster. Before that too, I was supposed to do a few films. I didn’t have any concept of A grade or B grade cinema. I had hardly seen 10 films in my life. So if someone said, come to this audition, we want to sign a film with you, I would sign it. Fortunately for me, those films never took off. My parents would tell me that I would never be anyone and they would say all sort of negative things and I would think maybe they were right. I would think of myself as a loser in every sense, not only professionally but also in my personal life. That would scare me but also it wouldn’t last.
Is there anything that you hated about yourself and wanted to change?
I hated everything about myself, my life, everything. When I came here, I was very uncomfortable about the clothes that I wore. I used to wear those really cheap clothes, buy them from streets and wear them and I would look so funny. I used to feel funny, not that I looked funny. Those dresses were not appropriate and no one should go out on the streets in them. They were fine for parties but I had no concept of what to wear and when. And I looked like a 16-year-old coming from some village trying to be modern. Not that I was dumb, I was intelligent but it was just so weird that people kept looking at me not very respectfully and I hated being so uncomfortable. If I had been wearing just jeans and a T-shirt, nobody would have noticed me. That was worse because if you are looking for assignments and modelling work and if nobody notices you then it’s terrible. So I was uncomfortable in every way. I never became friendly with anyone. Life was strange without parents, proper food, proper house, nothing at all in place. I hated everything around me and the way I was. I would go on for weeks and weeks without thinking where I was heading. That was a phase I remember and someday I will definitely make a movie on that.
Was there peer pressure to do things?
I would do whatever others did. It didn’t matter if I liked it or not. It wasn’t peer pressure definitely but because I wanted to be one of them or maybe I wanted to prove that I belonged to this world, I went on like that for years and years. I didn’t hate it at that point of time. If I would have hated it, I would have changed it. But I had no clue what was wrong with my life. It took me two years to realise who I really am. Not that I hated it but I wasn’t happy either.
Were you lonely?
Loneliness was never a problem because whenever I was lonely I would do something that would make me happy. My problem was that I had too many people around me and they never let me be alone. Before I became an actress, I would go for auditions with people, have coffee and come back, normal life, not very different from Delhi. Then after I became an actress, there were designers, ADs, people who roam around the whole day on the sets. They kind of open those doors for you. You get shocked with what is happening around you but you don’t show it. This is how your new life starts and it just takes over.
You also got into some wrong relationships...
Well, when you get into a relationship it’s not wrong at that point of time and I won’t consider anything wrong with them. For me, I have been in two relationships till now, and both have been beautiful in their own way. It was I who was a random soul, and I still am. I still have so many things to learn in life. I am not a perfect person, nobody is perfect. So whatever experience one goes through is because of oneself.
Did you at anytime realise that you were in relationship that you shouldn’t be in?
See, relationships are not that important in my life. I don’t feel any pressure to say that love means everything and blah blah! For me, I don’t think love is something which will make me complete. It’s who I am. I have something to prove and I have a strong urge to do certain things in life. And if I don’t do that, I will be a very unhappy person. I never gave that kind of priority to any relationship. If I would have done that I would have been in a happy relationship and an unhappy career. I am clear about my priorities now. People at times judge me. They say that she says her priority is her career and her ambitions... but that’s ok. I am not ashamed of the fact that it actually is.
Today I am done with dating. Now if I get into a relationship, it will be with a proper plan. Now I would want to be with a man with whom I can see a future and give it more time and energy. If I see a man turning into my husband in the near future then only will I go ahead with a relationship. This is what life or age does to you. You can preserve your innocence but at the same time you cannot deny the fact that you cannot sometimes take another chance with life.
So that means you are not going to fall wildly in love now because you are first going to look into the husband aspect of it.
Yeah. That’s true actually; otherwise I have always fallen in love first and then seen the right and wrong of it.
You are too young to reach this decision. At this age people are still having flings.
Yes, if you start little late. But I started too early. (laughs) I started at 16. (laughs loudly)
Are you still edgy?
That's a very difficult question because to explain who I was is very difficult even for me. I mean nobody knows who they really are. Right now, I am definitely not the person who I want to be. There is still a lot to achieve but I am also definitely not the person I hated to be. I am okay now, peaceful, but I want to be a better person in future. I am sure the better part of me is still to come.
Who do you want to be?
I just want to be a person whose very presence makes people smile. I want to have positivity and grace as a woman. When I came here, I was a tomboy. Not even a tomboy, I was something between a guy and a girl. I want to be a nicer human being so that when I look at myself I should feel proud of myself. Right now I don’t feel proud of myself. Earlier I used to feel shit about me. Whatever I said, I did, everything was wrong. I would always say the wrong thing at the right time. Now I don’t do those things which make me hate myself. I don’t beat myself up everyday when I go home. I am peaceful. But I am not even the person who would be so proud of herself.
Are you ever fake?
Yes, I sometimes say things for the sake of saying things. Like the most common thing that I would say, “How are you?” makes me feel so fake. I prefer to say, "Kaise hain aap?" that makes me realise what I am saying. When I say it, I do really mean, kaise hain aap? So I am watching myself.
When you were in trouble at any point in your life, have you taken any favours from your friends?
I have never ever taken any favour from anyone in my life. I have never called up any friend to discuss my problems or ask them for solutions. I have really great friends who claim to stand by my side when I am in trouble. I have been in trouble but never had the courage to test them because if my time was already bad, I wouldn’t want one more shock. So I never really tested my friends.
When you say you never had the courage, you mean you were scared that they would not be by your side?
I don’t know. I never had the courage to discuss my problems with people around. I have always shown the happier side of me and I will continue to do that. It’s not my friend’s duty or concern to help me out with my troubles. I think it’s unfair to do so.
The presence of friends makes me uncomfortable. It distracts me from the situation. It’s the same with my parents. Even in childhood when I was in trouble, I would lock myself up in my room and would not leave my room until I had solved the problem. I have a lot of faith in my strength but parents and friends get so weak and I just think handling them is much more difficult than handling the situation.
How do you manage to look so different in every film? Is it deliberate?
Honestly, it is. It bores me to death to be the same because for me it’s a character that I have to get into. So I change everything that I can. So I kind of do the fun things so people are shocked but I don’t like myself looking the same all the time.
Sometimes it can be embarrassing. Recently, at the Paa premiere, one of my costars was treating me like a fan. It was only when I said, ‘I am Kangna,’ that he realised that it was me. It’s so embarrassing, we work together for 60 days and they don’t recognise me. It has happened with me a lot. When I was in theatre, my guru used to tell me that it is a blessing in disguise. At times he would give me a guy’s role. He said that you have a face which can be moulded into anything. But another thing that really matters is whether my hair is curly or straight. It changes me so much that sometimes I too wonder about the look. It’s very good for a double role though.