From Bollywood to Lok Sabha — Tracing Kangana Ranaut’s journey of bigotry and hate

The newly-minted MP has a history of being a hater and we have a feeling we're going to see even more jingoism now that she's won a seat in parliament.
Updated 04 Jun, 2024

Everyone knows who Kangana Ranaut is; you may know her from her roles in Fashion and Queen, or because of her controversial (an understatement) anti-minority, right-wing views, or most recently, you may know her because she just won the Mandi seat as a member of parliament (MP) from the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) in the Indian election.

But how did Ranaut transition from a controversial Bollywood starlet — who infamously picked fights with Hrithik Roshan — to an MP for potentially one of the most bigoted parties in the world? Let’s start at the beginning.

Born in Bhambla, Himachal Pradesh, Ranaut made her film debut in the 2006 thriller Gangster. Within a few years, Ranaut gained critical acclaim for her powerful portrayals of emotionally complex characters, especially for her role as a model addicted to cocaine in Fashion alongside Priyanka Chopra.

While her career went through highs and lows like any actor’s does, it was outside the realm of acting that Ranaut garnered attention from the media — negative and positive.

In 2016, Roshan filed a lawsuit against Ranaut for stalking him and allegedly sending him over 1,000 emails, most of them “senseless, personal, and absurd”. He also sought an apology from Ranaut for calling him her “silly ex”. The Tanu Weds Manu actor filed a lawsuit in response, claiming that Roshan was attempting to cover up his divorce and that he hacked into her mailbox to delete incriminating exchanges.

A little absurd, but nothing unheard of in the world of entertainment.

Perhaps one of the only slightly agreeable things Ranaut did was call out nepotism in the industry. She dubbed Karan Johar as the “flag bearer of nepotism” in Bollywood and said he was part of the “movie mafia”.

After the suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput, Ranaut tweeted blaming nepotism and Bollywood insiders for driving the actor to his death. According to the BBC, she said he was an “outsider” like her who had no “godfathers” in the industry, and that powerful Bollywood families and directors had “systematically sabotaged” his career.

But even in sensitive situations, Ranaut could not rein her pessimism in, as she launched a smear campaign against Rajput’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty — whom his family accused of abetting his suicide — calling her “a small-time druggie who was living off a vulnerable and broken, self-made superstar”. While we’re all entitled to our opinions, defaming someone who had not been indicted by a court and did not hold the same power as Ranaut, was a harsh move. As Chakraborty faced online harassment from Indian journalists and social media trolls, Ranaut only fuelled the fire with her remarks.

Once labelled a feminist for her stand against the old Bollywood guard and her powerful roles, Ranaut’s misogyny was evident when she spoke of her women colleagues. She called Urmila Matondkar “a soft-porn star”, Sonam Kapoor a “mafia bimbo”, and Swara Bhaskar and Richa Chadha “B-grade actresses”.

“Kangana Ranaut is a fine actor who was once known for her craft and her courage, but has now allowed that courage to degenerate into self-promotion and sexist attacks on women she disagrees with and the single-minded pursuit of a right-wing agenda,” said journalist and film critic Anna MM Vetticad in an interview.

In 2021, Ranaut’s Twitter account was suspended for repeated violations of the platform’s hateful conduct rules and for “behaviour that has the potential to lead to offline harm”. In tweets made before the suspension, the actor had been very vocal about the alleged violence in West Bengal after the election results were declared.

After the BJP managed to secure only 77 constituencies, Ranaut demanded the state elections be rejected by the BJP government, and that presidential law be declared in West Bengal. She tried to legitimise her claim by saying that previous Indian presidents had done it, providing the necessary framework for the Modi regime to follow suit.

She returned to the platform when the ban against her was lifted in January 2023 after Elon Musk took over the micro-blogging site.

Her hate speech doesn’t end there. In April 2020, a police complaint was filed against Ranaut for referring to Muslims as “terrorists” in a video supporting her sister, whose Twitter handle was suspended for a violent and genocidal call for shooting down Muslims, The Business Standard reported.

Bigotry must run in the family, because Ranaut’s hate-mongering sister tweeted, “make these mullas + secular media stand in a line and shoot them dead…f**k the history they may call us nazis who cares, life is more imp than fake image”.

In October of the same year, the hateful duo were booked by Bandra police for sedition and promoting enmity between different groups. A Mumbai court ordered an inquiry against them for their derogatory tweets against Muslims.

Her disdain for Muslims extends to her Bollywood colleagues, of course. If there’s one thing Ranaut doesn’t do, is discriminate when it comes to hate. In 2023, she tweeted: “This country has only and only loved all Khans and at times only and only Khans…And obsessed over Muslim actresses, so it’s very unfair to accuse India of hate and fascism … there is no country like Bharat in the whole world.”

This statement is rich, to say the least, because Bollywood’s — and perhaps the world’s — biggest actor Shahrukh Khan once wrote that sometimes he became “the inadvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India”. Muslim actors, especially the Khans, face a lot of pressure to prove their patriotism and constantly face anti-Muslim trolling on social media. People like Ranaut, who have right-wing journalists and BJP supporters hanging on her every word, reinforce this ideology.

Moreover, the India of today is not what it was 30 years ago, with Modi’s hardline Hindutva narratives permeating Indian society and increasing hostility to Indian Muslims. Again, Ranaut — now a member of parliament — is only making the situation worse.

Yes, she hates women, actors, Muslims and Muslim actors (God forbid if you’re a woman Muslim actor), but did you know — Ranaut hates the powerless too! This is peak irony because, you know, she is a politician. In October 2021, the Karnataka Police filed a first information report against the actor for her calling farmers protesting the Indian government’s new agriculture laws “terrorists”, The Business Standard reported.

Recently, Ranaut met with Israeli Ambassador to India Naor Gilon in Dehli. In an Instagram caption, the actor stated that “the whole world, especially Israel and India, are fighting their war against terrorism. Yesterday when I reached Delhi for Ravana Dahan, I felt that I should come to Israel Embassy and meet the people who are defeating today’s modern Ravana [the multi-headed king who serves as the primary antagonist in the Hindu epic Ramayana] and terrorists like Hamas. The way small children and women are being targeted is heart-wrenching. I have full hope that Israel will be victorious in this war against terrorism”.

With over 40,000 Palestinians killed due to Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, it makes perfect sense for Ranaut to side with the oppressor. After all, that is who she usually aligns herself with.

We could list every horribly hateful thing she’s done and said, but that would be a 10,000-word dissertation our readers do not deserve to read.

Instead, let us take you through her strange political career, leading up to her victory as an MP.

It all started in 2018, when Ranaut met Modi — yes we know, this sounds like the title of a trashy Bollywood rom-com no one would watch. Ranaut revealed her support and admiration for the Indian premier, taking many by surprise. According to The Quint, Ranaut said, “I am a big Modi fan because of his success story. As a young woman, I do believe that we need to have the right role models. I mean the graph and the ambition of an ordinary man and whenever we have a PM who is a chaiwala, then I always say that it is not his victory but it is the victory of our democracy. I feel he is the right role model.”

Prior to this, the publication reported that Ranaut had not expressed any interest in politics and her decision to publicly support a highly controversial political leader was quite significant and alienated a large portion of her liberal followers.

One of Bollywood’s leading voices for the underdog and against nepotism was now supporting peddlers of hate, violence and Hindu supremacy at the cost of minority oppression. It became evident that Ranaut did not care much for the underdog and the subjugated — she cared about her own opinions and victories. In her eyes, she would always be the victim.

The Quint detailed that Ranaut built a new temple in her home town, thereby further pushing the BJP’s Hindutva ideologies. “The message was clear — she was still a warrior for the underdog and the small towner, but preference would be given to Hindus.”

Meanwhile, her social media team began working overtime to push her image as a Hindu nationalist, a real patriot. She called veteran actor Shabana Azmi an ‘anti-nationalist’ after Azmi and Javed Akhtar cancelled a trip to Karachi in the wake of the Pulwama attacks.

She also urged Modi to ban iftar during the month of Ramazan. Lest you forget, India is home to over 172 million Muslims.

Of course, a pre-requisite to be part of the BJP is hating Pakistan. You can’t be a right-wing Indian politician without hating big, bad Pakistan. Ranaut has played that role to perfection — and why wouldn’t she, she hates literally everyone (except herself and Modi-Ji, apparently), so Pakistan must be on the list. After a Pakistani official said Pakistan was not wearing churiyan (bangles) and possessed a nuclear weapon, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar released a video saying talks with Pakistan are necessary to put an end to terrorism otherwise it would think that India was trying to belittle Pakistan.

Ranaut had a sassy reply geared up, “Vo kehte hain, Pakistan ne churiyan nahi pehni hain… arrey bhai, nahin pehni hai to hum pehna denge [They say Pakistan is not wearing bangles… if Pakistan is not wearing bangles, we will make them wear it].” She added that she was aware that Pakistan did not have electricity and flour but wasn’t aware it didn’t have bangles either. Keeping it real classy and diplomatic, Ranaut.

She added that India did not want an unstable and weak Congress government headed by a frightened prime minister.

When you’re promoting jingoistic, anti-Muslim, anti-Pakistan and anti-everyone-but-the-majority rhetoric, you gain some haters yes, but you often gain even more supporters. Ranaut’s new colours garnered her rapid support from right-wing Indians and supporters of the BJP.

Her sheer hate made her the perfect candidate. She was the people’s hate, the very picture of the ideal BJP woman, coming from a humble background like the chaiwala premier she so admires.

In March 2024, the BJP declared her a candidate for the general elections which she would contest from the Mandi constituency. Today, it was announced that Ranaut won the seat in a landslide victory with a margin of over 55,000 votes.


Utpal Mitra Jun 04, 2024 06:42pm
Interestingly, she hails from Himachal Pradesh and is an MP from the BJP, both of which had no contribution to the Indian freedom movement.
Gurpreet Singh Jun 04, 2024 07:08pm
Normally, I have a reflex reaction of defending fellow Indians against Pakistani criticism. But I won't do that for Kangana because she's indefensible.
NYS Jun 04, 2024 07:16pm
Kangana R was the first time contender and emerges as victorious with BJP ,big congratulations Indian dominant party of the century... Kangana has controversial yet successful role in acting field her leading point was 'Nepotism ' Would she be good achiever in public sphere as politician My POV one successful experience in certain field doesn't guarantee a repeat episode —— best forward
Harish N. Shetty Jun 04, 2024 07:29pm
Totally untrue and biased article though I agree that Kangana is a strong and true nationalist and loves her country. Definitely, she goes not hate Muslims the way Dawn projected her to be but I agree that she hates people who hate India. Just because she joined BJP, she doesn’t suddenly become a villain for people who don’t know too much about India and in particular Bollywood politics.
Secular India Jun 04, 2024 07:33pm
Let’s make India a secular country again and say bye bye to BJP fanatic regime in 2024. Congresses Party always been a great political party of India.
bulla Jun 04, 2024 08:05pm
She was right about everything and we support her
Kool Cat Jun 04, 2024 08:05pm
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
B. Sridhar Jun 04, 2024 09:24pm
Like in the case of many genius artists in the history, that very imbalanced energy that sparks creativity in them also results much hatred, bigotry, and erratic behavior. Great material for a movie or play. But tragic when you consider the what victims have to bear as a result of this unbridled ill will.
Multani Jun 04, 2024 10:49pm
Amazing rise and fall of Kangana, also low intelligence of Indian voters for electing her. Who will help Indian Muslims?
Masood Khan Jun 04, 2024 11:34pm
She is one of the nails in the coffin of Muslim hatred.
Ron Jun 05, 2024 05:15am
This was understood who ever talk bad about Pakistan and Muslims will get popular in India and if that is from Social media and Bollywood then its an icing on cake
Nadeem Shah USA Jun 05, 2024 05:23am
15 minutes of fame.
Gulabo Jun 05, 2024 05:42am
Kangana is boss.
Ruschna Jun 05, 2024 08:50am
Quite interesting - articulated to define her pretty aptly by just using what she exhibited.
BALWANT SINGH VARAICH Jun 05, 2024 12:54pm
Dear Writer You have missed her unpleasant comments about Indian Farmers protest days.
Zehra Jun 05, 2024 09:59pm
Well Written. I admired her since ‘Queen’, but not anymore. She seems to be mentally unstable, as all hate-mongers are. Pakistan is k mental asylum men rehne ka kharcha uthane k liye tyar h
Fast comment Jun 05, 2024 10:20pm
She can work for normal relationships with PK. A great fan following exist in PK. As a gesture she can show up in PK Punjab and chat with CM Maryam Nawaz.
Spatcho Jun 06, 2024 01:40am
Himachal Pradesh was part of erstwhile Punjab which had plenty contribution to the Indian freedom movement
Tahmad Jun 06, 2024 08:04am
Gurpreet Singh- With great respect my friend, I cannot change your toxic and hateful mind towards Pakistanis but I can tell you if you happened to visit UK-USA-Canada or any Arab Countries, you will find all Indians-Pakistanis-Bangladeshi-Afghans are living like one family and help love each others. It’s only our politicians divided us based on religion and hatred. Please be honest and positive towards each other’s. Thanks.
Money Honey Jun 06, 2024 10:37am
India has great diplomatic relations with Israel and most of the Indians support Israel in their fight against Hamas. So what’s wrong with KR meeting Israeli ambassador?
Lalithan Jun 06, 2024 09:02pm
Kangana is an excellent actress... Nobody can deny that.. And she has her own opinion which is her right... Having said that one needs to understand that BJP is where it is as the opposition has no clear agenda or clue as to where they would like the country to be.... A ragtag collection of parties who's aim is to unseat the BJP has no bearings as there are more pm aspirants than the parties
rishi Jun 07, 2024 08:56pm
Utpal Mitra - so now you are in-charge of giving certificates which states contributed to freedom?