Welcome to the Bolly Patriots’ Club, Kangana Ranaut

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Welcome to the Bolly Patriots’ Club, Kangana Ranaut

Illustration: Juergen D

Another day in India, another person discovers their nationalism.

It’s almost become a sport for Bollywood celebrities to take a boring situation like a conference, interview, or a film screening and turn it into a party that ends with everyone chanting “India! India! INDIA!”

Earlier this week, for some inexplicable reason, Kangana Ranaut sat down with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev to talk about the importance of “nationalism” and the pointlessness of “liberals”. The actress revealed how a scene in her upcoming film, Manikarnika, where Rani Laxmibai is seen saving a calf was changed after a crew member warned them it would make them look like “cow saviours”. According to her, liberals are prejudiced against cows and “are always criticising, and never wanting to protect cows.” At this point, the innumerable lynching related deaths in the country may as well be imaginary. It’s evident that her outburst of nationalism would make RSS leaders tear up with joy.

If that wasn’t enough, Kangana even went a step ahead to join Sadhguru in justifying lynchings as “village justice” instead of you know, a crime. I’m saddened to report that her thoughts on the Kathua rape didn’t fare any better but to her credit, the actress did find a way to put the blame on liberals once again. If nothing, the BJP would be proud of her sudden loyalty towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whom she also called “the most deserving candidate of democracy”.

Back in March,Kangana delivered a similar, if slightly toned-down version of this patriotic chant at the end of her News18 Summit. Full of rhetoric about standing up for the national anthem, a condemnation of the rising anti-national youth, and of course the evergreen “soldiers are fighting on the border,” Kangana delivered a heartfelt appeal for us to be proud of our country no matter how many minutes it takes the entire country’s budget to be passed in. She also took time to throw shade at Western countries to remind us about her previous stance on Pakistani artists living in our country – she doesn’t like that. The connection between the two things is something only the BJP’s IT cell can decipher for us.

And just like that, Kangana Ranaut has joined the growing tribe of nationalist-actors who make movies about how much they love India in between talking about how much they love India. Akshay Kumar is well on his way to becoming propagandist-in-chief of the government, even though he is probably a Canadian citizen now. (Fun fact: The anti-nationals Raghuram Rajan and Amartya Sen preferred to keep their Indian passports.)

The respected lover of BJP, Anupam Kher, meanwhile, is slated to play Manmohan Singh in his biopic (wonder how fair he’s going to be about that), and another respected actor Paresh Rawal is method-acting the role of a guy who trolls people on Twitter in his free time. Now while these veteran actors have been vocal about their disdain for JNU students, Arundhati Roy, and the like for a while now, it’ll be interesting to see where Kangana takes this leap.

The idea of the outspoken feminist, who admits to having pre-marital sex, ending up on the same side of a cultural debate as the right wing is an interesting one. It’s a new side of Kangana we’re seeing, hints of which could be detected when she refused to be vocal about her support for Deepika Padukone while the Karni Sena were aggressively gunning for her head.

Maybe, just maybe, this has something to do with Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, her upcoming historical drama and her desire to see it not go down the Padmaavat route.

After all, catering to nationalist sentiment around the time of an upcoming release is not a brand new thing. It’s an art that has been perfected before Kangana, in most recent times, by PadMan Akshay Kumar, and Ajay Devgn – the latter channelled his inner Shivaay when he asserted that he would never work with Pakistani actors again. It seems like actors aren’t too finicky about the causes they throw their weight behind either, like when Amitabh Bachchan wrote a cringy letter to his daughters during the release of his film, PINK.

I guess you can’t blame Bollywood stars for succumbing to desh bhakti when they are under constant threat that a fringe outfit will go on rampage on their sets. Karan Johar literally released a video begging to let his movie release and dropped Fawad Khan like he would drop a B-grade celebrity from Koffee with Karan. Even Aamir Khan, who known for his “anti-national” views, had to be gracious enough to receive an award from Mohan Bhagwat.

I guess what they say is true, all the world’s a stage and all Indian actors true patriots. At least before a film release.

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