“We are not fighting people, we are fighting a mentality,” Kangana Ranaut said in her response to Karan Johar during the duo’s war of words following the debunking Koffee With Karan episode. It aptly sums up the iconic status that the Queen actress has achieved in the 11 years since she broke on to the scene with Gangster. On her 30th birthday, we relive her journey that has been nothing short of swingeing, or even dramatic.

Matter of choices

After earning critical acclaim for her first two movies – Gangster and Woh Lamhe, the National Award winner experienced fluctuating fortunes both with the critics as well as at the box office. A few flops, including Shakalaka Boom Boom and No Problem, and some south Indian projects later, she found her Bollywood career at the crossroads, before hitting the ground running yet again with Tanu Weds Manu in 2011.

Along with acclaimed performances in the likes of Queen, Krrish 3 and Ungli thereafter, Kangana’s fashion choices also witnessed a remarkable turnaround. It’s been a journey from the bright, overdone outfits and painstakingly straightened hair and makeup to classy saris, sexy gowns and relaxed curls. She doesn’t give a rat’s backside to fashion rules, like not wearing the same colour head-to-toe, anymore and in fact does a fantastic job breaking them.

Smashing stereotypes

Talk of breaking clichés, Kangana has grown into someone who doesn’t shy away from speaking her mind, as opposed to many other leading ladies of Bollywood and the shy, small-town girl she was made to be at the time of her B-town bow. Be it speaking against ‘nepotism’ in the industry or talking about her sex life or even discussing about her flings/affairs with A-listers like Hrithik Roshan; she refuses to beat around the bush.

Here are some gems:

On gender equality: “Girls are never encouraged to do something. My father had unrealistic expectation from my brother, while I stood in the corner.”

After rejecting a fairness cream ad: “It’s very sad and I find it extremely humiliating because we’re a country of beautiful people. Women should not be subjected to this discrimination. They’re just stripped off their confidence and self-worth by such creams. I oppose it and I’m very ashamed that many celebs support it and endorse it.”

 

A hero by herself

Kangana reportedly flashed the flying bird Majid Majidi’s upcoming Beyond the Clouds. Why would I take on such a submissive role?” a media outlet quoted her response to the project that had the male lead play a meatier role. And why not; especially, after the proven ability to carry a film on her shoulders single-handedly. She even called her latest release Rangoon a three-hero film with Shahid Kapoor and Said Ali Khan being the other two ‘heroes.’

It’s not to say that she hasn’t upped her acting game over the years too. After entering the industry as a rookie from Himachal Pradesh, she is now one of the finest actresses of her generation; al by herself. “I learnt on the job and got paid for it, using the money to educate myself in New York,” she had replied to Karan Johar’s suggestions of leaving the industry if she’s so sick of it. She added that she isn’t going anywhere and we dearly hope she doesn’t.

Here’s to a happy 30th, Kangana!