Kangana Ranaut : Transition from Gangster to Queen

As Bollywood’s doe eyed beauty, Kangana Ranaut rings in her 28th birthday today, we decided to take a quick peek into her innings so far.

Early life and background

Ranaut was born on 23 March 1987 at Bhambla, a small town in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh. She had a regular and happy childhood, growing up in a joint family at their ancestral haveli in Bhambla.

According to Kangana, she was “stubborn and rebellious” while growing up. She told film critic Anupama Chopra :  “If my father would gift my brother a plastic gun and get a doll for me, I would not accept that. I questioned the discrimination.”  And this trait of hers definitely reflects in the unconventional roles she picks.

In school, she pursued science as her core subject, remarking that she was “very studious” and “always paranoid about results”. She initially intended to become a doctor on the insistence of her parents. But unlike most of us, she was impulsive enough to reconsider her career prospects after flunking a chemistry test in her twelfth grade. So despite preparing for the All India Pre Medical Test, she did not turn up for the exam !

Determined to find her space and freedom, she relocated to Delhi at the age of sixteen. Her decision to not pursue medicine led to constant feuding with her parents and her father refused to sponsor a pursuit he considered to be aimless. She reconciled with them a few years ago.

The Rise

She made her feature film debut in the 2006 thriller Gangster, which bagged her Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut. She was only seventeen while filming and said that she “had difficulty first in understanding and then unwinding from the character”, describing her craft as “raw and immature”. She portrayed an alcoholic, love forlorn girl with an élan and ease that was convincing and yet left me perplexed.


In her next, “Who Lamhe”, she said that portraying Parveen  Babi had left her emotionally drained, as she had begun to feel her desolation and loneliness. Film critic Subhash K. Jha wrote that Ranaut “is the first female performer of Bollywood since Smita and Shabana who isn’t scared to strip her soul naked for the camera”, adding that she is a “hugely expressive actress with a phenomenal ability to convey torment, hurt and incredulity through the eyes”.

She received praise for portraying an emotionally intense character in the drama  Life in a… Metro. Then came the film that changed the topography of Kangana’s career, Fashion. Her portrayal of a a substance abusing supermodel struggling to cope with her foundering career earned her the National Film Award and Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress.

The fluctuations

She then featured in the commercially successful films Raaz: The Mystery Continues and Once Upon a Time in Mumbai. Notice a pattern here ? By this time, she was criticised for being typecast in neurotic roles. Though her roles were edgy, they were taking their toll on her. She consciously started branching out in terms of roles.

In a brief role in Anurag Basu’s romantic thriller Kites, Ranaut portrayed the fiancée of Hrithik Roshan’s character. After playing a television reporter in the thriller Knock Out, Ranaut actively looked for a comedy and found the role in Anees Bazmee’s No Problem, but both films failed to propel her career forward. We’d seen her ace the strung up, paranoid characters, but an image change didn’t seem to agree with her. She looked more lost than ever.

tanu weds manu

The success of Tanu Weds Manu was followed by  a series forgetful  roles in films such as Game, Double Dhamaal, Rascals and Miley Naa Miley Hum (Yes, it’s an actual film). She later said that she did some of these films due to a dearth of film offers. The following year she starred in an action thriller Tezz, another box office flop. Her grip at the box office was shaky now.

She then played a mutant opposite Hrithik Roshan in the science fiction film Krrish 3, one of the highest-grossing Bollywood films of all time, but her role didn’t hold enough meat. Also that year, she played the eponymous lead in the musical drama Rajjo where her portrayal of a nautch girl was largely criticised.

The Game Changer


In 2014, Ranaut established herself as a leading actress of contemporary Hindi cinema when she featured alongside Rajkummar Rao and Lisa Haydon in the coming-of-age dramedy Queen, for which she co-wrote the dialogues and it won her the Filmfare for Best Actress. The film tells the story of Rani, a naive girl who embarks on her honeymoon alone after her fiancé calls off their wedding.  Next she starred in the black comedy Revolver Rani in which she played Alka Singh, an aggressive politician with a criminal record. Critics expressed mixed views on the film, but were appreciative of Kangana’s performance.

Upcoming projects

Clearly, all of Kangana’s future performances would be measured against Queen. And just like Rani, we saw Kangana metamorphose through this film. She’s become a woman to look up to, someone whose opinions holds weight. She cannot be cast into a mould anymore. She’s become a champion of storytellers and scripts. There’s a lot of buzz and excitement about her new projects.


As of February 2015, Ranaut has completed work on I Love New Year, a romantic comedy with Sunny Deol, which after numerous delays is awaiting release. Ranaut is filming a sequel to Tanu Weds Manu, entitled Tanu Weds Manu Returns. She is also filming opposite Imran Khan for Katti Batti, a romantic comedy directed by Nikhil Advani. In addition, she has been cast for Sai Kabir’s Divine Lovers, an Indian-French co-production about corruption co-starring Irrfan Khan, Sujoy Ghosh’s adaptation of the Japanese novel The Devotion of Suspect X opposite Saif Ali Khan and an untitled project on mountaineering from the director Hansal Mehta. Ranaut will also be making her production and directorial debut with an English language short film entitled The Touch, dealing with the relationship between a four-year-old boy and a dog; she co-wrote the screenplay with an Australian writer and completed principal photography in America. This woman may redefine diversity !

Personal life

Ranaut has stated that her initial years in the film industry were marred with difficulties as she was unprepared to be an actress.  She was conscious of her poor command of the English language and struggled to “fit in”. In a 2013 interview with Daily News and Analysis, Ranaut recollected:

“People in the industry treated me like I didn’t deserve to be spoken to and I was some unwanted object. I couldn’t speak English fluently and people made fun of me for that. So dealing with rejection became a part of life. […] All that has taken a toll, I guess. I find it hard to deal with praise. Today, when people say that I have made it and made it on my own, I feel like locking up myself somewhere… It scares me.”

white dress

Look at her now. She is a strong person who can’t be bogged down by petty criticism. She has an indivisualistic approach to life and doesn’t want to lose her rights as a common person to learn and grow. Since 2009 she has been studying kathak from the Nateshwar Nritya Kala Mandir. The technical process of filmmaking is of tremendous interest to her, and to better her understanding of it Ranaut enrolled in a two-month screenplay writing course at the New York Film Academy in 2014.

She is particularly known in the media for expressing her honest opinions in public and is frequently credited as one of the most fashionable Indian celebrities. She single handedly speared the cat-eye glasses trend after all !


So on her 28th name day, we wish she continues to create magic at the cinema. More power to you girl ! Keep us enthralled !

Picture Credits : Google Images + Pinterest


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