Indian National Award-winning actress Kangana Ranaut has rejected a call for apology for heckling a journalist at a press event in Mumbai. However, Ekta Kapoor, producer of her film ‘JudgeMentall Hai Kya’, apologised on Tuesday for the “untoward incident”.
In a statement issued by her company Balaji TeleFilms, Kapoor — who is one of Bollywood most influential women — claims that their intention was not to disrespect or hurt anyone’s sentiments.
“While the people involved in it fairly held their own perspectives but because it happened at the event of our film, we, as the producers, would like to apologise and express regret for this untoward incident,” said Kapoor, head of Balaji Telefilms who have co-produced the drama, also co-starring Rajkummar Rao.
“A lot is being reported about the debate that ensued between our film 'JudgeMentall Hai Kya’s actor and journalist Justin Rao, at the film’s song launch event... We urge the media to not let this one incident hamper the team effort that has gone behind making the film,” added Kapoor.
Following the incident that went viral on social media which saw Ranaut aggressively questioning Rao for criticising her film ‘Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi’ and accused him of running a ‘smear campaign’, journalists in Mumbai have formed a guild to protect their interests and are now calling for the boycott of Ranaut.
The association was formed two days after the spat.
In a video that has been widely shared, Ranaut in an acidic tone accused Rao, a PTI reporter, of ridiculing her warrior princess tale ‘Manikarnika’ and he responded saying she was intimidating a journalist.
An open letter was penned by the newly formed Entertainment Journalists Guild of India and submitted to Kapoor demanded an unconditional apology from Ranaut and the producers.
“We, as a guild, have collectively decided to boycott Ms Ranaut and not give her any media coverage.”
While the producers are making all the right noises, Ranaut and her perennially-militant sister Rangoli Chandel — who is also her manager — isn’t willing to back down.
In an unsavoury choice of Hindi words, Chandel — who spoke on behalf of Ranaut — made it clear that an apology will not be forthcoming. She vowed that Ranaut will never apologise to the journalist and also claimed that the actress will “hang you out to dry”.
“Ek baat ka main vaada karti hoon, Kangana se apology nahin milegi, in bikau, nange, deshdrohi, desh ke dalal, libtard mediawalon ko. Magar who tumko dho dho kar sidha zaroor karegi. Just wait and watch, tumne galat insan se maafi mangi hai,” tweeted Chandel on Ranaut’s behalf. Roughly translated, she accused Rao of being a sell-out and an anti-national and that he’s picked a fight with the wrong person.
It isn’t the first time that Ranaut has found herself in the centre of a media storm. Her alleged relationship with actor Hrithik Roshan snowballed into a he-said/she-said media circus with both actors attacking each other. While Ranaut called him her ‘silly ex’ whom she had an affair with, Roshan claimed that he was being emotionally traumatised by Ranaut’s behaviour and allegations. Their war has lasted more than six years with Ranaut never missing a chance to take digs at the actor.
Their sparring reached such preposterous levels that Roshan even shifted the release date of his forthcoming film ‘Super 30’ to avert a box office clash with Ranaut’s ‘JudgeMentall Hai Kya’, releasing on July 25. In an interview with another daily, Roshan went to the extent of labelling her as a bully.
“I have come to realise that bullies have to be treated with a certain amount of patience and not engaged with. It’s upon the civil society and those who claim to be just and fair to see and observe if there is harassment,” said Roshan in a recent interview. In his social media post, Roshan claimed that he found another release date for ‘Super 30’ to save himself from ‘personal trauma’ and ‘toxic mental violence’.
Ranaut shot back calling it a “sob story”.
While the media has chronicled Ranaut’s acidic comments against Roshan, this episode where she has locked horns with the fourth estate who have always been mighty patient with her giddy and impulsive outbursts might not end well for the mercurial diva. Her twitter handle — managed her temperamental sister — has been unnecessarily provocative and viciously vitriolic. Recently, when actors like Taapsee Pannu and Varun Dhawan praised the trailer of ‘JudgeMentall Kya Hai’, Rangoli attacked them for not singling out Ranaut’s performance or name and screamed foul play
The sister-duo’s constant need for attention is fast becoming tiring and is becoming something on the lines of ‘Keeping Up With Kangana’ real-life reality TV. The seemingly unhinged sisters may provide constant fodder for the media with their persecution-complex attitude and savage outbursts, but their spiel is getting tough to keep up.
While Ranaut’s abilities as an actor is superlative and can never be questioned, her behaviour off-camera leaves a lot to be desired.
During the spat with the journalist recently, Ranaut accused him of being her friend who had lunch with her in the vanity van before the release of Manikarnika. It was a charge that the journalist denied claiming that he spent just 30 minutes with her in her van discussing the film and that he was just doing his job like any other entertainment journalist.
From the looks of it, playing a victim is her constant trump card. Unlike Bollywood romances, Ranaut — who has always found a friend among the Mumbai press — might find herself alone in this battle and not have a happy ending here.
Superstars like Salman Khan have also faced boycotts from the Mumbai media when his team manhandled the paparazzi at a press event in 2015. In his trademark style, Khan laughed off the boycott and didn’t give it much thought. The boycott ended after a few weeks, but Khan’s stardom remained unaffected.
But it remains to be seen if Ranaut will be as unscathed in male-dominated, patriarchal film industry like Bollywood.