The Telegraph
Sunday , September 18 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kangana in a bind
celebrity circus

You hear of stars from the same sex having ego battles if they’re ever put together in a film. Whether it was Sharmila Tagore and Raakhee in a cat fight over hero Rajesh Khanna’s attention (during the filming of Daag) or Amitabh Bachchan and Vinod Khanna verbally brawling when both wanted prominence and audience sympathy in Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, the fight for more celluloid presence has always existed between co-stars.

The only time a hero and a heroine fall out is when a romance between them is abruptly nipped right from Dilip Kumar-Madhubala and Shashi Kapoor-Shabana to Shahid Kapur-Kareena, the souring of a love story is the only reason for a star to stop talking to someone from the opposite sex.

But here’s a first: at the recent music launch of David Dhawan’s Rascals, while the two male co-stars, Sanjay Dutt and Ajay Devgn, continued to bond closely, it was heroine Kangana Ranaut who was eased out of the frame. The rift between the heroes and Kangana has deepened so obviously that she was not even a part of the function where the music was released. Instead, feeble publicity plants about model Candice Pinto or leggy Lisa Haydon catching the eye of Dutt and Devgn at the function, were circulated, while total silence was maintained about the heroine who was not even mentioned in the SMS that served as an invite.

Is Kangana affected by the boycott? Busy shooting for I Love New Year with Sunny Deol at a studio in Andheri, the Mumbai suburb, she is keeping a stiff upper lip about the whole unpleasant Rascals episode where the two heroes ganged up against her and were probably in sync with the title of the film. But it does slip out when she says in an informal chat that it is “pathetic that 45 and 50-year-old men get together and pick on a 24-year-old.” No names mentioned as she shrugs, “When I’m 46 years old, I think I would take on someone only from my age group and stature.”

It does seem to have gone beyond repair because the whisper is that Sanjay Dutt’s wife, Maanyata, is the one who has spearheaded the “cold shoulder Kangana” campaign, with hubby Sanjay Dutt and his buddy Ajay Devgn falling in line.

However hurt she may be, will this influence the film industry against Kangana? For starters, Kangana is confident that she has looked her glamorous best in Rascals she has even donned a bikini for the first time. No fashion model in a side role is going to be able to ace that move.

Secondly, even while Kangana was shooting for I Love New Year, she had Aanand Rai, the director of Tanu Weds Manu, visiting her. Together they have finalised the sequel to the zany comedy where Kangana pulled off practically a solo show at the box office early this year. “The script Aanand has now got for the sequel is even stronger than Tanu Weds Manu,” says Kangana who is embarking on a path where she need not lean on the shoulders of her heroes to keep herself going.

In fact, few know that Kangana has stepped into Vidya Balan’s chappals in the sequel to Ishqiya. If Vidya went home with all the awards for her courageous role in Ishqiya, it stands to reason that the heroine’s part in the sequel will be equally powerful. Kangana has some great company awaiting her in the sequel to Ishqiya apart from Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi, she shares the film with two more impactful performers, Madhuri Dixit and Irrfan Khan. The film already sounds interesting.

“The sequel is much bolder than Ishqiya was,” Kangana delightedly reveals.

Off screen too, this girl from Himachal Pradesh is bolder than most of her colleagues. Undeterred by the consequences of taking on Sanjay and Maanyata Dutt, Kangana has dispensed with the services of her business manager, Dharam Oberoi. Dharam is a Dutt faithful and has been managing Sanjay’s career for a long time. When Dutt and Kangana bonded and began to do films together, the secretary came along too. By replacing him with her own sister Rangoli, Kangana has sounded the bugle that she’s ready for a full-scale war.

What Kangana now needs to do is ensure that she delivers as a performer in the assignments that she has bagged. She has already had three releases this year Tanu Weds Manu, Game and Double Dhamaal which makes it two hits, one miss. There are three more on their way Rascals, Mile Na Mile Hum (in which Ram Vilas Paswan’s son Chirag makes his debut) and I Love New Year.

It’s the box-office that will decide who wins this battle between two testosterone males and one petite but fiery Himachali.

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