Kangana Ranaut Biography – an Indian Actress and the Queen of Controversy

Kangna Amardeep Ranaut is an Indian actress and filmmaker who works primarily in Hindi films. Known for her portrayals of strong-willed, unconventional women in female-led films, she is the recipient....

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Real Name: Kangna Amardeep Ranaut
Profession: Indian actress
Birthplace: Bhambla, Himachal Pradesh, India
Honours: Padma Shri
Age: 36

Kangna Amardeep Ranaut (born 23 March 1987) is an Indian actress and filmmaker who works primarily in Hindi films. Known for her portrayals of strong-willed, unconventional women in female-led films, she is the recipient of several awards, including four National Film Awards and five Filmfare Awards, and has been featured six times in Forbes India‘s Celebrity 100 list. In 2020, the Government of India honored her with the Padma Shri, the country’s fourth-highest civilian award.

At the age of sixteen, Ranaut briefly took up modeling before being trained under theatre director Arvind Gaur. She made her film debut in the 2006 thriller Gangster, for which she was awarded the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut, and received praise for portraying emotionally intense characters in the dramas Woh Lamhe… (2006), Life in a… Metro (2007) and Fashion (2008). For the last of these, she won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress. She appeared in the commercially successful films Raaz: The Mystery Continues (2009) and Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai (2010) but was criticized for being typecast in neurotic roles. A comic role in Tanu Weds Manu (2011) was well-received, though this was followed by a series of brief, glamorous roles in films that failed to propel her career forward.

Ranaut’s career prospects improved in 2013 when she played a mutant in the superhero film Krrish 3, one of the highest-grossing Indian films. She went on to win two consecutive National Film Awards for Best Actress for playing an abandoned bride in the comedy-drama Queen (2014) and a dual role in the comedy sequel Tanu Weds Manu Returns (2015), which was the biggest-earning female-led Hindi film at the time. This was followed by several commercial failures and a decline in stardom. Her sole successful venture in this period was her co-directorial venture, the biopic Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (2019). Her portrayal of the titular warrior in it and her part as a sportswoman in Panga (2020) jointly earned her a fourth National Film Award.

Kangana Ranaut Biography
Kangana Ranaut Biography

In 2020, Ranaut launched her own production company, Manikarnika Films, where she works as a director and producer. She has been credited in the media as being one of the best-dressed celebrities and is known to be outspoken. The opinions she has voiced, aligning with right-wing ideologies, along with frequent clashes in her personal and professional relationships, have sparked controversy.

Kangana Ranaut Biography
Kangna Amardeep Ranaut

23 March 1987 (age 36)

Bhambla, Himachal Pradesh, India
  • Actress
  • filmmaker
Years active 2006–present
Works Full list
Awards Full list
Honors Padma Shri (2020)

Early life and background (Kangana Ranaut Biography)

Kangna Amardeep Ranaut was born on 23 March 1987 in Bhambla (now Surajpur), a small town in the Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh, into a Rajput family. Her mother, Asha Ranaut, is a school teacher, and her father, Amardeep Ranaut, is a businessman. She has an elder sister, Rangoli Chandel, who as of 2014 works as her manager, and a younger brother, Akshat. Her great-grandfather, Sarju Singh Ranaut, was a Member of the Legislative Assembly and her grandfather was an officer for the Indian Administrative Service. She grew up in a joint family at their ancestral haveli (mansion) in Bhambla, and described her childhood as “simple and happy”.

According to Ranaut, she was “stubborn and rebellious” while growing up: “If my father would gift my brother a plastic gun and get a doll for me, I would not accept that. I questioned the discrimination.” She did not subscribe to the stereotypes that were expected of her and experimented with fashion from a young age, often pairing up accessories and clothes that would seem “bizarre” to her neighbors. Ranaut was educated at the DAV School in Chandigarh, where she pursued science as her core subject, remarking that she was “very studious” and “always paranoid about […] results”. She initially intended to become a doctor at the insistence of her parents. However, a failed unit test in chemistry during her twelfth grade led Ranaut to reconsider her career prospects and despite preparing for the All India Pre-Medical Test, she did not turn up for the exam. Determined to find her “space and freedom”, she relocated to Delhi at the age of sixteen. Her decision not to pursue medicine led to constant feuding with her parents and her father refused to sponsor a pursuit he considered to be aimless.

Ranaut struggled with her meager earnings during this period, eating only “bread and aachar (pickle)”. Refusing her father’s financial assistance led to a rift in their relationship which she later regretted. Her relatives were unhappy with her decision to enter the film-making industry, and they did not correspond with her for several years. She reconciled with them after the release of Life in a… Metro in 2007.

Kangana Ranaut Biography
Kangana Ranaut Biography

Career (Kangana Ranaut Biography)

2004–2008: Film debut and critical acclaim

In 2004, the producers Ramesh Sharma and Pahlaj Nilani announced that Ranaut would make her film debut with the Deepak Shivdasani-directed I Love You, Boss. The following year, an agent took her to the office of the producer Mahesh Bhatt, where she interacted with the director Anurag Basu and auditioned for the lead role in the romantic thriller Gangster: A Love Story. Bhatt felt she was too young for the role and signed Chitrangada Singh instead. However, Singh was later unavailable to do the film and Ranaut was contracted as a replacement for Gangster, opting out of I Love You Boss. She was cast in the central role of Simran, an alcoholic woman caught in a romantic triangle between a notorious gangster (Shiney Ahuja) and a sympathetic friend (Emraan Hashmi). Ranaut was only seventeen while filming and said that she “had difficulty first in understanding and then unwinding from the character”, describing her craft as “raw and immature”. Released in 2006, Gangster emerged as a critical and commercial success. Raja Sen of said that “Kangana is a remarkable find, the actress coming across with great conviction”. She won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut, along with various other debut awards.

Ranaut next portrayed a village girl in Dhaam Dhoom (2008), a Tamil romantic thriller, opposite Jayam Ravi. Production on the film was temporarily halted when the director, Jeeva, died of cardiac arrest and the film was completed by the crew members. A review carried by Post wrote that Ranaut had “little scope” in a role that did not suit her. India Today described her next film, the drama Fashion (2008), as a “landmark” in her career. Set against the backdrop of the Indian fashion industry, the film features Ranaut as Shonali Gujral, a substance-abusing supermodel struggling to cope with her foundering career. Because the media speculated that her role was based on the former model Geetanjali Nagpal (which Ranaut denied), the Delhi Commission for Women ordered a stay on the film’s release, approving it only after a script narration. With a worldwide revenue of ₹600 million (US$7.5 million), Fashion was a commercial success. Ranaut’s performance drew unanimous critical acclaim. Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama praised her confident portrayal of the character, and Nikhat Kazmi added that she “does an exquisite metamorphosis from a wispy, high-strung, nervous child-woman to a stunning ramp diva.” Ranaut’s portrayal earned her several awards, including the National Film Award and Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress.

2009–2012: Career fluctuations (Kangana Ranaut Biography)

The supernatural horror film Raaz: The Mystery Continues from director Mohit Suri was Ranaut’s first film release of 2009, in which she played a successful model who is possessed by a ghost. The film co-starred Emraan Hashmi and Adhyayan Suman and proved to be a financial success. Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express noted that Ranaut was becoming stereotyped in roles that required her to be “hysterical”, adding that she needed a “radical change of image”. Also that year, she played the leading lady in the drama Vaada Raha and the Telugu action film Ek Niranjan, neither of which attracted particular notice.

Ranaut followed the success of Tanu Weds Manu by starring in a series of brief, glamorous roles in four other films of 2011: GameDouble DhamaalRascals, and Miley Naa Miley Hum. With the exception of Double Dhamaal, none of these films performed well. In a review for Rascals, Gaurav Malani of The Times of India wrote: “Kangana Ranaut is ill at ease in comedy. She struggles to hold her own and emerges as a bimbo in her act.” Ranaut later admitted that she accepted some of these films due to a dearth of film offers as well as financial gain. The following year, she had a supporting role opposite Ajay Devgn in Priyadarshan’s action thriller Tezz, another box-office flop.

2013–2015: Established actress

The director Sanjay Gupta cast Ranaut in a brief role opposite John Abraham in the crime thriller Shootout at Wadala (2013) due to her ability to stand out in a predominantly male-centric film. The Daily News and Analysis Tushar Joshi wrote that her role was written “to provide the sex quotient” and critic Vinayak Chakravorty opined that she “does not get much scope […] beyond the steamy lovemaking grind”. Commercially, the film performed moderately well.

Also in 2015, Ranaut appeared in the romantic comedies I Love New Year (a production delayed since 2013) and Nikkhil Advani‘s Katti Batti, both of which failed at the box office. The latter saw her play opposite Imran Khan as a cancer patient, a role that critic Uday Bhatia of Mint thought “lack[ed] the sort of definition she’s had in her last few roles”.

2017–present: Professional expansion and commercial failures

After a year-long absence from the screen, Ranaut starred as Julia, a 1940s heroine and stunt woman modeled on the actress Fearless Nadia in Vishal Bhardwaj‘s romance Rangoon (2017). She played the part of an “amalgamation of many characters” from that era and was particularly drawn toward its “fierceness and sensuality”. She learned horse-riding and sword fighting and performed her own stunts. Media reports suggested a feud between Ranaut and Kapoor, and although they denied this, both stars publicly commented against the other. Rangoon received generally positive reviews, with praise directed at Ranaut’s performance. Rohit Vats of Hindustan Times called her “terrific”, and NDTV ranked her as one of the best actresses of the year. She received a nomination for the Filmfare Critics Award. The same year, Hansal Mehta’s crime comedy Simran saw her in the role of a Gujarati immigrant in the United States who perpetrates a series of bank robberies to cover her debts. For the part, she learned Gujarati to improve her diction. She shared the screenwriting credit with Apurva Asrani for improvising several dialogues on set, but Asrani accused Ranaut and Mehta of not valuing his contributions to the script. Her performance in Simran was praised. Both Rangoon and Simran failed at the box office.

In 2020, Ranaut founded her production company, Manikarnika Films, and the next year appeared in the biopic Thalaivii (2021), in which she and Arvind Swamy played the actor-turned-politicians J. Jayalalithaa and M. G. Ramachandran, respectively. For the part, Ranaut gained 20 kg (44 lb). The film met with mixed reviews from critics, who generally praised her performance. Baradwaj Rangan complimented her choice to not imitate Jayalalithaa but rather a channel “the lack of power, the frustrations, the disappointments and the fact of what it meant to be a woman in politics back then”, concluding that she “puts all of this across beautifully”; in contrast, Srivatsan S. from The Hindu believed she was miscast in the role, adding that Swamy’s role is more lengthy than that of Ranaut. Her performance gained her a SIIMA Award for Best Actress – Tamil. She was nominated for a Filmfare Award for the part but expressed strong discontent over it, accusing Filmfare of being corrupt and unethical in their awarding system and threatening to sue them if her name was not withdrawn; her nomination was revoked for what the association rejected as “false accusations”.

In 2022, Ranaut hosted the reality show Lock Upp, which streamed on ALTBalaji and MX Player to strong viewership. She then played a spy in the action film Dhaakad. It was her eighth box-office failure among her last nine films, with publications such as Bollywood Hungama and Box Office India commenting on her waning popularity. In 2023, she produced the black comedy film Tiku Weds Sheru, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Avneet Kaur, which was panned by critics.

Ranaut will next portray an Indian Air Force pilot in the drama Tejas, Indira Gandhi in her second directorial project, Emergency, about the 1977 Indian Emergency, and will star in a sequel to the 2005 Tamil film Chandramukhi.

Personal life (Kangana Ranaut Biography)

Ranaut has stated that her initial years in the film industry were marred with difficulties as she was unprepared to be an actress. She was conscious of her poor command of the English language and struggled to “fit in”. In a 2013 interview with Daily News and Analysis, she recollected:

“People in the industry treated me like I didn’t deserve to be spoken to and I was some unwanted object. I couldn’t speak English fluently and people made fun of me for that. So dealing with rejection became a part of life. … All that has taken a toll, I guess. I find it hard to deal with praise. Today, when people say that I have made it and made it on my own, I feel like locking up myself somewhere … It scares me.”

During the struggle, Ranaut found support in the actor Aditya Pancholi and his wife Zarina Wahab and considered them her “family away from home”. She became embroiled in a well-publicized scandal when the media speculated on the nature of her relationship with Pancholi. She declined to speak about it openly, although she made several public appearances with him. In 2007 it was reported that Ranaut had filed a police complaint against Pancholi for physically assaulting her under the influence of alcohol. The following year Pancholi confirmed the affair in an interview, saying that he had been cohabiting with Ranaut in the past and accused her of owing him ₹2.5 million (US$31,000). In response, Ranaut’s spokesperson said that “after physically assaulting her in the middle of a road, he has no right to expect anything from her”, adding that she had “already given ₹5 million (US$63,000) to [him] as a goodwill gesture”. Ranaut later said that the incident had left her “physically and mentally” damaged.

Kangana_Ranaut with her Family
Kangana Ranaut with her Family

While filming Raaz: The Mystery Continues in 2008, Ranaut began a romantic relationship with co-star Adhyayan Suman. On Suman’s insistence that he focus on his professional career, the couple separated the following year. From 2010 to 2012, she was involved in a long-distance romance with Nicholas Lafferty, an English doctor; she described the relationship as “the most normal” she ever had, but the couple split amicably as she was not ready for marriage. She has since maintained that she will never get married, and has expressed a desire to not be bound by a relationship. In 2016, Hrithik Roshan, her co-star from Krrish 3, filed a lawsuit against Ranaut accusing her of cyberstalking and harassment. Denying the charges, Ranaut filed a counter-charge against Roshan, claiming that his lawsuit was an attempt to cover up their affair for the benefit of his divorce proceedings. The case was closed later that year owing to lack of evidence.

Ranaut lives in Mumbai with her sister Rangoli, who was the victim of an acid attack in 2006. She makes yearly visits to her hometown of Bhambla. A practicing Hindu, Ranaut follows the teachings of the spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda and considers meditation to be “the highest form of worshipping God”. She practices vegetarianism and was listed as “India’s hottest vegetarian” in a poll conducted by PETA in 2013. Since 2009 she has been studying the dance form of Kathak from the Nateshwar Nritya Kala Mandir. She has said that the technical process of filmmaking is of tremendous interest to her, and to better her understanding of it Ranaut enrolled in a two-month screenplay writing course at the New York Film Academy in 2014. In an interview with Filmfare she said that despite her stardom, she wants to lead a normal life: “I don’t want to lose my rights as a common person to learn and grow”.

Public Image and Artistry (Kangana Ranaut Biography)

In the book Acting Smart: Your Ticket to ShowbizTisca Chopra describes Ranaut as a “free-spirited, original creative” person “who cannot really be slotted in a particular mold”. Ranaut is particularly known for her forthrightness in expressing her opinions in public on issues ranging from film to feminism. A televised 2013 interview hosted by Anupama Chopra in which Ranaut spoke out against gender bias and nepotism in Bollywood went viral online, which led Sunaina Kumar of Tehelka to write: “In this age of cookie-cutter heroines with stock responses, Kangana Ranaut is refreshingly real and honest.” Noted for paving her way to stardom without prior connections in the film industry, she was described by Kaveree Bamzai as “a permanent outsider who can play the game better than most insiders”. Ranaut had a public fallout with the filmmaker Karan Johar when she accused him of nepotism during a chat show appearance in 2017. She has since continued to advocate against nepotism in the industry, more so after the death of Sushant Singh Rajput, when she accused influential film professionals of having “systematically sabotaged” his career.

Ranaut has been cited as a sex symbol and style icon in India. Analyzing her off-screen persona, Hindustan Times published that she was initially written off by Indian journalists due to her “funny accent” and the negative publicity generated by her troubled relationships; however, her defining fashion choices and her unconventional film roles eventually established her as a star. She has frequently featured in listings of the most attractive and stylish celebrities in India. She ranked among the top 10 on The Times of India‘s listing of the “Most Desirable Woman” in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2015. Ranaut was featured on Verve‘s listing of the most powerful women of 2010 and in 2012 she was named the “Best Dressed Personality” by the Indian edition of People. In 2013, she was featured as one of the best-dressed women celebrities by Vogue India. The journalist Jagmeeta Thind Joy credits the actress for her “quirky, almost non-Bollywood take on personal style”, adding that she “likes to shock and awe with her choices”. She collaborated with the fashion brand Vero Moda to launch two clothing lines for the company—Marquee and Venice Cruise—in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Filmography (Kangana Ranaut Biography)


Denotes films that have not yet been released
Year Title Role(s) Notes
2006 Gangster Simran
Woh Lamhe Sana Azim
2007 Shakalaka Boom Boom Ruhi
Life in a… Metro Neha
2008 Dhaam Dhoom Shenbaga Tamil film
Fashion Shonali Gujral
2009 Raaz: The Mystery Continues Nandita Chopra
Vaada Raha Pooja Special appearance
Ek Niranjan Sameera Telugu film
2010 Kites Gina Grover
Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai Rehana
Knock Out Nidhi Shrivastava
No Problem Sanjana
2011 Tanu Weds Manu Tanuja “Tanu” Trivedi
Game Sia Agnihotri
Ready Kiran Special appearance
Double Dhamaal Kiya
Rascals Khushi
Miley Naa Miley Hum Anishka Shrivastava
2012 Tezz Nikita Malhotra
2013 Shootout at Wadala Vidya Joshi
Krrish 3 Kaya
Rajjo Rajjo
2014 Queen Rani Mehra Also dialogue writer
Revolver Rani Alka Singh
Ungli Maya
2015 Tanu Weds Manu Returns Kusum “Datto” Sangwan/ Tanuja “Tanu” Trivedi
I Love NY Tikku Verma
Katti Batti Payal Saluja
2017 Rangoon Julia
Simran Praful Patel Also, co-writer
2019 Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi Rani Laxmibai Also co-director
Judgementall Hai Kya Bobby Grewal
2020 Panga Jaya Nigam
2021 Thalaivii J. Jayalalithaa Bilingual film (Tamil and Hindi)
2022 Dhaakad Agent Agni
2023 Tiku Weds Sheru Producer
2023 Chandramukhi 2 † Chandramukhi Tamil film; filming
Tejas † Tejas Gill Completed
Emergency † Indira Gandhi Also director and producer
Kangana Ranaut Biography
Kangana Ranaut Biography

Television (Kangana Ranaut Biography)

Year Title Role Platform(s) Notes
2022 Lock Upp Host Alt Balaji & MX Player Reality show

Awards and Nominations (Kangana Ranaut Biography)

Awards and nominations received by Ranaut

Year Award Category Work Result
2006 Global Indian Film Awards Best Female Debut Gangster Won
Best Actress Nominated
2007 Asian Festival of First Films Best Actress Won
Bollywood Movie Awards Best Female Debut Won
Filmfare Awards Best Female Debut Won
Face of The Year Won
International Indian Film Academy Awards Best Female Debut Won
Best Actress Nominated
Screen Awards Most Promising Newcomer – Female Won
Zee Cine Awards Best Female Debut Won
Stardust Awards Superstar of Tomorrow – Female Won
2008 Breakthrough Performance – Female Life in a… Metro Won
2009 Filmfare Awards Best Supporting Actress Fashion Won
International Indian Film Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress Won
National Film Awards Best Supporting Actress Won
Screen Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Producers Guild Film Awards Best Actress in a Supporting Role Won
Stardust Awards Best Supporting Actress Won
2011 Best Actress – Thriller/Action Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai Nominated
Zee Cine Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Female Nominated
2012 Best Actor – Female Tanu Weds Manu Nominated
Screen Awards Best Actress Nominated
Producers Guild Film Awards Best Actress in a Leading Role Nominated
Stardust Awards Best Actress – Comedy/Romance Nominated
International Indian Film Academy Awards Best Actress Nominated
2014 Screen Awards Best Actress (Popular Choice) Krrish 3 / Shootout at Wadala Nominated
Best Villain Krrish 3 Nominated
International Indian Film Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Producers Guild Film Awards Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated
Zee Cine Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Female Nominated
NDTV Indian of the Year Actor of the Year Won
CNN-IBN Indian of the Year Special Achievement Award Won
Indian Film Festival of Melbourne Best Actress Queen Won
Stardust Awards Best Actress Won
Star of the Year – Female Nominated
BIG Star Entertainment Awards Most Entertaining Actor (Film) – Female Nominated
Most Entertaining Actor in a Social/Drama Film – Female Nominated
2015 Producers Guild Film Awards Best Actress in a Leading Role Nominated
Best Dialogue (shared with Anvita Dutt Guptan) Nominated
Screen Awards Best Actress Nominated
Best Actress (Popular Choice) Nominated
Best Dialogue (shared with Anvita Dutt Guptan) Nominated
Filmfare Awards Best Actress Won
Best Dialogue Nominated
National Film Awards Best Actress Won
International Indian Film Academy Awards Best Actress Won
Stardust Awards Best Actress Tanu Weds Manu Returns Nominated
BIG Star Entertainment Awards Most Entertaining Actor in a Comedy Film – Female Nominated
Most Entertaining Actor in a Romantic Film – Female Nominated
Most Entertaining Actor in a Drama Film – Female Nominated
2016 Screen Awards Best Actress (Popular Choice) Nominated
Best Actress Nominated
Producers Guild Film Awards Best Actress in a Leading Role Nominated
Filmfare Awards Best Actress (Critics) Won
Best Actress Nominated
Zee Cine Awards Best Actor – Female Nominated
Critics Award for Best Actor – Female Nominated
Times of India Film Awards Best Actor – Female Won
National Film Awards Best Actress Won
International Indian Film Academy Awards Best Actress Nominated
CNN-IBN Indian of the Year Special Achievement Award Won
2018 Filmfare Awards Best Actress (Critics) Rangoon Nominated
Screen Awards Best Actress Simran Nominated
2019 Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi Nominated
2020 Padma Shri Art Civilian Award Won
Filmfare Awards Best Actress (Critics) Judgementall Hai Kya Nominated
Best Actress Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi Nominated
2021 Panga Nominated
National Film Awards Best Actress Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi
• Panga
2022 South Indian International Movie Awards Best Actress – Tamil Thalaivii Won

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