Once Upon A Time In Mumbai releases today. In the film Kangana Ranaut plays a '70s actress. She's paired with Ajay Devgn, who is essaying the role of an underworld kingpin. Here the actress talks about the debacle of Kites, her heroes, why she wants to stop playing "angst-ridden characters" and why she talks to her shoes and dresses. Read on to experience Kangana...
Tell me, are you playing a character inspired by Madhubala in Once Upon A Time...?
The inspiration for this character has come from Madhubala, as this gangster was in awe of her as an actress. But Madhubala actually came from an even earlier era (the '50s and '60s) So for Rehanna, I have also drawn inspiration from actresses of the '70s like Parveen Babi and Zeenat Aman. Also there's the whole fictional element in her character, which is purely from the filmmaker's point of view.
Did you do any research for the part?
When I went to see Milan Sir for the film, he was already ready with everything. During the narration itself, he had big files ready. He knew what Rehanna would wear, her body language, etc. but he asked me to watch a few Zeenat Aman and Parveen Babi films, to see how sensuous and sexual they were. I simply remembered that Rehanna is known for her oomph. She's a diva; very attractive and she evokes desire in men and I played it like that.
You wore 12 wigs for the film?
No. But there are many looks in the film - I have at least 20 hairstyles and a lot of money was spent on stylists and make up artistes etc. Mariaji was the one who did most of it. She's my hairstylist and has been in the industry for 35 years. She's worked with Meena Kumari, Sharmila Tagore, Hema Malini, Madhuri Dixit and more.
In the film you are involved with a gangster - what kind of guy are you looking for in real life?
I don't have any preconceived notions. I am romantic, but I'm also very practical. I can't be in love if I don't like his habits and if he's not disciplined or dedicated, I may be attracted, but I know it won't last.
What is your idea of romance?
There has to be lots of respect in my relationship. And there should be lots of attraction. Also, my man should feel like I am the ultimate, hottest woman there is and I should feel that he is the hottest guy there is. That makes it passionate.
What is your idea of a hot guy?
Subtle sexuality. Not insecure, or trying hard to impress. He should be effortlessly hot.
Apparently you find your Once Upon A Time hero Ajay Devgn very hot...
Ajay is hot. I think a lot of women would agree with me. For me it's because he's such a great performer. I remember watching Ishq about ten times just for him.
This is the first time you are playing a 'normal" girl. Are you relieved?
I think in the other films also I was a normal girl. Shonali from Fashion was a normal girl going to school, who was a victim of unusual circumstances. I think her life was interesting. So is Rehanna's (of Once Upon A Time...).
Did you feel boxed in or restricted to playing the disturbed girl?
I don't agree with that statement. I feel each character I essayed was unique, and I thoroughly enjoyed working on those films. And it worked. People enjoyed watching those films with their interesting characters and interesting stories. Watching a perfect 9-5 job, a perfect family may be boring.
Are you a happy girl by nature?
I am a normal 23-year-old. All of us have all these emotions in us; we feel happy, sad, depressed, elated, and nervous. Everyone experiences all emotions and I am no different.
After your Kites experience, have you become wary about your films?
Yes. I think after Kites, I am much more concerned when it comes to editing.
Because the script that Anurag narrated was completely different from what came out. On the sets, he has done it so differently that I never thought it wouldn't come out like that. So many people who saw the film told me that they expected much more from me than what I did in Kites. Anurag didn't call me for the trial also. I saw the film on Friday when it released. He was my best friend and he kept telling me not to worry. I was in a state of shock when I saw the film.
Has Kites affected your association with the Roshans and the director Anurag Basu?
No. Kites has not changed anything. Sussanne and Hrithik are good friends, and we're in touch often but my relationship with Anurag has been strained by this, because he was the one who made the film after all.
Anurag was the director of the film. Whatever people say, he has made the film on his own. He approached and narrated the script to me. When I would ask him why I was not involved, he smiled and said, 'It's not my film.' When you get someone in the project and make promises, you can't later turn around and say 'get lost.' Am I not supposed to get upset, then? He wronged me and I am hurt and upset about that. I have been very open about it and made it very clear to Anurag about how I am feeling.
After Kites, you are again paired with an A-List actor. Comment.
I don't know what A-List or B-List is. A hero's a hero; a movie is a movie.
Are awards important to you?
You don't go into a film thinking of awards you'll win for it. Everyone works hard on a film. When it does well at the box office, you feel great that your work has been appreciated. Awards are another form of recognition of effort, so that feels nice.
What has been the single most contributing factor for your success.
My sister. She's like a rock. She supports me through everything.
Who is your 4 am friend?
I have many 4 am friends, but not in the industry. I have not tried calling anybody here if I am in trouble but if I ever am I know I can call Madhur Bhandarkar or Mahesh Bhatt. They will stand by me.
Is there someone with whom you discuss your relationship problems?
I do have my thick friends with who I chat, like any other girl.
People feel your life is similar to Parveen Babi's. Agree?
No. My life is my own, and besides, I'm just 23, there's a long way to go. Though, it's been so eventful, I feel I could write the first part of my autobiography, and it would be a full book.
Tell me three things no one knows about you.
I have this fantasy of an an age-old romance 'aankhon-aankhon mein pyaar' type. I love my clothes so much, I talk to my dresses, shoes and bags and third is that I would make a fantastic make-up and hair stylist.
Do you like shocking people by the way you dress?
That honestly is never my intention. I would want to come across as graceful and beautiful.
You were once thrown out of a beauty pageant. Are you proud of where you are today or do you feel you have just begun?
I never had confidence issues. Even when I was thrown out I thought 'These people are stupid.' And that's how I feel today. But yes, I do feel I'm just beginning.
A role you would love to play?
I would love to do a period film and play a character like Anarkali in Mughal-e-Azam.
After playing several doomed characters, Kangana Ranaut plays a 'normal" role her latest flick Once Upon A Time In Mumbai. She also reveals the role she dreams of essaying one day.