If we things were “normal”, we would have seen Kangana Ranaut in her J Jayalalithaa avatar on the big screen by now. The actor’s next big release titled Thalaivi, a biopic on Tamil star and former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, was scheduled to release on 26 June. The film’s first look dropped online last year in November to largely positive reactions. While the producers will now be strategising for a new release date once theatres reopen, they also have to consider the repercussions of the controversial heat that Kangana has generated in the last few months.
In fact, all of Kangana’s forthcoming releases will be getting more attention than due because of the political skirmishes that the actor has indulged in lately. Here’s a quick look at Kangana’s forthcoming projects:
Thalaivi based on J Jayalalithaa’s life is being simultaneously shot in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. The biopic is directed by AL Vijay and Kangana was spending a good part of her time learning to speak Tamil and taking Bharatnatyam classes for the film. Besides Kangana, Thalaivi also features Arvind Swamy as MG Ramachandran and Prakash Raj as M Karunanidhi. Kangana has commented that Jayalalithaa’s story is similar to her own life story, which is why she chose to do the film. Her recent clash with a political party only adds to the similarities. Produced by Vishnu Vardhan Induri and Shailesh R Singh, Thalaivi will be crucial for Kangana as it will be her first release after her last debacle - Panga.
Touted as an action entertainer, Kagnana appeared in a teaser for a film titled Dhaakad in August last year. Armed with machine guns, the actor in desi Uma Thurman-style is seen getting trigger happy in a blazing, dark, dystopian setting. Produced by Sohel Maklai Productions and Asylum Films and directed by Razneesh Ghai, Dhaakad was supposed to go on floors in February 2020 and release by Diwali. However, because of the pandemic, the shooting schedule of the film would have been invariably postponed. In one of her interviews, Kangana had declared that Dhaakad will be a turning point for Indian cinema, Let’s wait and watch.
Also on Kangana’s to-do list is Tejas, a film on a woman fighter pilot of the Indian Air Force. The story of Tejas is inspired by the landmark decision in 2016 when IAF allowed their women officers to join combat roles by inducting three fighter pilots. Produced by Ronnie Screwvala’s RSVP and directed by newcomer Sarvesh Mewara, Tejas is scheduled to start shooting in December despite the pandemic.
Besides these three projects, Kangana has also announced a couple of projects under the banner of her very own production - Manikarnika Films.
A few days after the Supreme Court delivered its verdict in the Ram Mandir Janambhoomi dispute in November 2019, Kangana announced that she would be exploring the case through a film. Titled Aparajitha Ayodhya, the actor said the film would depict the journey of the protagonist from a non-believer to a believer. Calling this a reflection of her own journey, Kangana also said that she would be directing the film though not acting in it. The film on the Ram Mandi-Babri Masjid dispute will be Kangana’s production house’s first project.
A Film on Kashmir
Kangana also recently announced that she would make a film on Kashmir to “awaken the citizens of the country”. This came after her controversial war of words with the Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra. After the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) initiated demolition work at her office in Mumbai, Kangana said that she understood how Kashmiri Pandits felt and promised her fans that she would make a film on Kashmir after completing her film on Ayodhya.
Kangana and Controversy
Question is, will the actor’s film suffer because of the controversies that surround her? Going by history - social media boycotts or campaigns against actors have never had an impact on the box-office returns of their films. Be it Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan or Deepika Padukone, the success or failure of their films have only depended on how good or bad their film was. For instance, despite a call for a boycott on Aamir Khan’s Dangal in 2016, it went on to become the biggest Bollywood blockbuster ever.
Are People Refusing to Work With Kangana?
Lately no established filmmaker in Bollywood has signed up for a project with Kangana. Apart from AL Vijay who is helming Thalaivi, both of Kangana’s other films, Tejas and Dhaakad are being directed by newcomers. Ace cinematographer and director PC Sreeram recently tweeted that he refused a film with Kangana in the lead because he felt uneasy about it.
Had to reject a film as it had Kangana Ranaut as the lead .Deep down i felt uneasy and explained my stand to the makers and they were understanding. Some times its only abt what feels right . Wishing them all the best.— pcsreeramISC (@pcsreeram) September 8, 2020
On being asked if he would work with Kangana Ranaut, filmmaker Vikram Bhatt commented that while she is a good actor, he would be reduced to a clapper boy on the sets if he chose to work with her. Kangana has had a past record of tiffs with filmmakers over credits and control - first with Hansal Mehta while making Simran and then with Krish during Manikarnika. Filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj too has commented that he believed his film Rangoon did not work because his actors - Saif Ali Khan, Shahid Kapoor and Kangana Ranaut did not get along.
In an industry where you are only as good as your last hit, Kangana surely needs a big success at the box-office right now since her last bonafide hit was Tanu Weds Manu Returns in 2015. Since then, her films I Love NY, Katti Batti, Rangoon, Simran, Mental Hai Kya and Panga haven’t been commercial hits. Her directorial debut Manikarnika, in which she also played the title role, just broke even.
Interestingly, Kangana’s next release is about an actor turned politician who took on her adversaries with a vengeance. Will J Jayalalithaa’s life story, which Kangana so identifies with, bring back her box-office mojo? Let’s wait till Thalaivi storms into theatres.
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