Her moment

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By Kangana Ranaut has emerged as the most exciting new talent to watch. By Subhash K. Jha
  • Published 13.10.06

She’s being praised to the skies for her second ‘scar’-turn as the traumatised, schizophrenic actress. But for Kangana playing Parveen Babi in Woh Lamhe... hasn’t been easy. In fact the role has left her so emotionally drained that she now intends to take a month off from work to regain emotional strength.

“I’m going back home to my village in Himachal, just to be near my dear ones, just to feel what Sana, my character in Woh Lamhe..., never did. I had become so close to her that I had begun to feel her desolation and loneliness. I know what she went through. In this ruthless industry you are all alone. And intense love always brings intense suffering. There may be happy love stories. Parveen didn’t have one. Some day I hope to have a happy love story.”

Kangana admits she was sacred to approach Babi. “The one thing I could connect with was her mood swings. I have them too... As one woman I can connect to the pain of another. Like Sana I do get angry. But only once in six months. And then all hell breaks loose. I don’t throw things around only because I live alone and I know I’ll have to clean up the mess. More than moody I’m practical. I withdraw in myself.

“I can understand Parveen’s pain. For a single girl with no godfather this industry is a terrible place to be in….

“Other girls my age are going on blind dates and joining salsa classes. I’m here playing a woman who lost her mind to a world where the only reality is unreality. Not that I’m complaining. I think I’ve been very lucky. I’ve seen life from the highest mountain. I’m on my own since the age of 16, though my parents were always there to support me. I took off to chase my dreams and here I am.”

She realises she needed no qualification to pursue acting. “I came to Mumbai and was doing modelling and theatre. Cinema just happened. It’s a myth that Aditya Pancholiji took me to producers. He isn’t even doing that for his daughter… But Adityaji, his wife Zarinaji and their daughter Sana were the only family I knew when I came to Mumbai. Today although I’ve done two very daring roles people compare me with Smita Patil. Shabanaji whom I so admire, says she’s watching me.”

Talk veers to her audacious scenes in Woh Lamhe... such as the one where she flings off her under-garment. “I’m new. I’m raw and I’m totally open to ideas and roles that strike me as authentic. As a child I didn’t watch films. I don’t have a favourite actress. All I know is from my experiences in life. I was aware of those scenes. That wasn’t me doing it. That was Sana. Kangana has her limits. Sana didn’t.

When I play a character I’ve to do everything a character asks me to do. A role comes in a package. I was so taken up by my character that I actually began to hallucinate. I could feel a ghost hovering near me. I could feel people trying to kill me. It doesn’t take much to psyche yourself into believing in your character’s beliefs. All this was very harmful for my mind…Let me tell you Woh Lamhe... was far more traumatic than Gangster. Earlier I saw Parveen Babi as just another actress. But now when I see her face anywhere I feel I’m part of her. And she’s part of my being. Because I’ve lived her life.” To Kangana’s relief she gets to play a far less traumatised character in her next film Suneel Darshan’s Shaka Laka Boom Boom and a light romantic role in Anurag Basu’s Metro.

“But first a break, in February to recuperate and also to attend my sister’s wedding. She’s my only sister. After seeing what Parveen Babi went through I’m so happy to be blessed with a family.”

On Thursday Kangana’s world was shaken and stirred, when she was shooting for Suneel Darshan’s Shaka Laka Boom Boom. “When I got a call about my sister I was wondering if they had got the wrong person. Fortunately her eye has been spared and her face will heal. My sister told me when the boy threw a liquid on her and her friend(who escaped with minor burns) the two girls thought it was water. The burning sensation started later. That’s when Rangoli’s friend suggested, ‘Kahin yeh acid to nahin phek gaya?’

When Kangana Ranaut’s sister Rangoli’s world came crashing down on Thursday she was waiting for a bank draft that her fiancé Vikram had sent for her to buy a salwar suit. The first thing after being singed with acid that Rangoli did was to call up her fiance. “I’ve just been burnt with acid. Will you still marry me?” Rangoli asked in indescribable pain.

The worst of the trauma is over. Kangana is touched by the support she has received from everyone around her. “Mukesh Bhatt-ji called up and told me to let him know if I need anything. My Woh Lamhe... director Mohit Suri offered to help. I’m so glad I’m in a position today to take care of my sister’s treatment. Imagine if I was just a small-town girl studying in college! Whatever money I had saved for my sister’s wedding is now being used for her treatment.”