Ever fell in love with someone who is unapologetically imperfect and prides herself on it? We did and we are celebrating these firebrand actresses for being who they are – writes SHUBARNA MUKERJI SHU.
There are many rules in this industry and for actresses it is best to conform to each and every one of them. After all, the ones who get second billing don’t have the liberty to even bend a few. Yet, there are some who have not just told the conformists where they can get off, they have shone so bright that they have blinded the others with their glory. These girls might not share the same magnitude of stardom but they have, each in their own way, been successes. It is not their stature but their spirit we have to celebrate this festive season!
When I first met Ranaut, I came out refreshed thinking about the girl whose dark curls stuck out in a world of rebonded and highlighted hair. That was then, and yet today after the many years she still likes standing apart from the crowd – be it not accepting commercial awards or refusing to be a part of a big hero film and claiming it as hers when it is a hit! Her films are her films and they are steadily sweeping many off their feet.
For someone who had been pulled down and stripped for everything from her voice to her choice in men and movies, her language, her diction and even her acting was ridiculed; her becoming the star she is, is applause-worthy. However, not taking away from her rise to stardom, it is her conduct over the years that won us over. Despite the many instances in the not so recent past where she blundered, never once did she allow another’s opinion to spill all over her image. Be it ‘prawn allergies’ that distorted her face, or her fluctuating accent or the scientist she claimed to date (who was dumped before he surfaced), she stood her ground and, as she recently stated at the Women In The World summit, ‘never lost the confidence’. No one has been allowed close enough to prick the bubble she has made around herself. It cannot be called a wall, because there are moments when she allows you glimpses of how fragile everything she has built has been.
“Sometimes I just want an oversized t-shirt, boxer shorts, unkempt hair and unibrow. I want armpit hair long enough to plait. I want a clean face without a trace of makeup. I want to look the way I do when I wake up. I want to scratch my head, dig my nose, lick my fingers, stretch my legs and spread my toes. I want to smile with my gums showing, bare my teeth, contort my pretty little face into wrinkles. I want my crow’s feet to look sexy, or my salt and pepper hair, or my sunburnt skin. I want to be George Clooney basically, but with breasts and a muffin.” These words quintessentially make Kalki Koechlin. She is the actress who simply shrugs every time someone bothers to disapprove of something about her. She won’t even make the effort to give the ‘finger’ like she does in a magazine shoot, because she simply keeps herself above it all. She might have spent her teens proving her nationality and sometimes even her integrity in the world of prejudices but she is not going to go explain herself or her ways. Which clearly stops people from asking her what exactly went wrong in her marriage, not only because it is impolite but because the girl will never say!
It is Kalki who has blended into films like THE GIRL IN YELLOW BOOTS and also a ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA or a YEH JAWANI HAI DEEWANI but never succumbed to the pressures of living up to the commercial cinema doctrines. Yes, she did practice her dance moves just so that she doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb but she doesn’t let anyone dictate what she chooses to do with her spare time, either. “People can only judge my work,” she declares, so she will march in Pride Parades in support of her homosexual friends, sing karaoke at a club without a celebrity angle to it and purely because it was fun, be in touch with her ex-husband and even call him names if she pleases, speak openly about being sexually abused as a child and not want it to make headlines… It is her ability to say what she wants to say, do what she wants to do and yet not come across as rude or conceited that wins us over.
Yes, her General Knowledge went for a toss one evening and that has effectively labelled her ‘dumb’ (often confused with silly). Every day there are more jokes surfacing while others are waiting in the wings, but if you think she is truly ‘Dumb’ then the joke is clearly on you. While her family certainly knows that, slowly and steadily the nation too is experiencing Alia Bhatt in a new way. Yet, it won’t be wrong to say that the repercussions of that one evening on the chat show, might have done her more good in retrospect. While her contemporaries were laughing, she has gone ahead and become a bigger success than anyone expected. She left the ‘just–a-pretty-face’, ‘me-too-Bebo’ tags far away.
Yes, there was Imtiaz Ali and his HIGHWAY that helped but it has a lot more to do with how she carries herself, to do her credit. “I know what I want. Though I am very young, I don’t want to be typecast, because I am not just a baby doll. I am okay with that image but I want to fit into any role. While visualising my career, I have not left any room for failure and if it does come my way, it will be difficult for me to deal with it. I see myself as a successful actor only.” And a success she is, her choice of cinema and goodwill is taking her places.