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Hauterfly Investigates: What Kangana Ranaut’s Frida Kahlo Tribute Says About Her Character In ‘Panga’

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There are some visuals in history that are so strong and striking that they end up being familiar to an entire generation. These stylized visages become part of a movement and are deeply embedded with values, ideologies, and themes of that movement. While the newer generation may not always know the origins of these images, they will always know what they represent. For example, young college boys who wish to explore their rebellious side have long flexed Che Guevara posters on their dorm walls. The Cuban cigar-smoking and beret-wearing images of Che have long been associated with anti-establishment ideas, without the knowledge of his controversial life. Pop culture visuals like this have long inspired artists, entertainers, and thinkers. One of my favourite things to do is to deep dive into their history and decode as to why these images have become so inspiring.

One of these classic visuals that I have personally been inspired by features a melancholic looking woman with a stunning unibrow and red flowers in her hair. Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is one of if not THE, image associated with the feminist movement and she holds a special place for all free-thinking women all over the world. She represents, strength with her gaze, beauty with her colorful garbs and unapologetic femininity with the roses.

The imagery of Frida has always been adopted by women to show their belief in women’s liberation movement. This is why we weren’t surprised by Kangana Ranaut paying tribute to her in one of her recent promotional looks. Dressed in floral from head to toe, Kangana paired her Torani kurta pajama with a matching headband and posed in front of a ‘Frida wall’. Given that she is promoting her slice-of-life next Panga, we can make a few guesses from this creative direction taken by stylist Ami Patel.

Kahlo, in her lifetime, was known to harbour strong feminist values, which was unusual for women back then. She is regarded as one of the pioneering painters in the history of Mexico, largely known for doing self-portraits. She was also known for her will for love and life, having been in serious accidents that left her legs deformed (thus the long skirts) and suffering chronic health issues towards the end of her life. First through her life partner Diego Rivera, then later her own, Frida was an influential figure in the communist movement. She was a non-conformist, a rebel and a woman who shunned domestic life for adventure.

All of these themes can be expected to be seen in the character played by Kangana in Panga. A former Kabaddi player trying to reinvigorate her athletic career at the age of 32 is not a story you hear every day. Much like Frida, Kangana’s character is unabashed in her pursuits, exclaiming”phirse panga lena hai” in the trailer of the film. She is a loving mother to her son at one point and a strong-headed working woman in the next. All of this makes for an interesting character study, one who would also hold a personality like Frida’s close to her heart!

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It will be interesting to see how the filmmakers have sketched out this character for Kangana. The actress is a rebel in her own right off the screen, to see her play one on-screen will surely be a treat. Also, thanks to her, I know what DIY project I’ll be indulging in this weekend. Anybody got a number to a florist?

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