There is no doubt that Kangana Ranaut will leave all competition far behind with Panga and will pick up all the awards at the end of the year. Wowing the critics and audiences alike has become a habit for this mercurial actress. Of course, she has her fair share of execrable films (Shakalaka Boom Boom, Dham Dhoom, Ek Niranjan, Kites, No Problem, Double Dhamaal, Rascals, Rajjo….). But the highs far exceed the lows. Here are the 5 performances that made Kangana’s career.

1. Gangster (2006): The minute she appeared on screen, all hyper, neurotic, suicidal and doomed as the gangster’s moll, a star had arrived. I remember taking Kangana’s number from her then-mentor Anurag Basu to congratulate her. “You are born for the camera,” I had told her sincerely. She loved the compliment. She later hated everything to do with me. That’s Kangana for you. She was restless, a meteor ready to burn on the cinematic galaxy. Strangely her first two co-stars Shiney Ahuja and Upen Patel got left far behind. It was as if the universe had made space only for one star at that point of time.

2. Fashion (2008): In a film that clearly favoured Priyanka Chopra, Kangana left a blasting impact as a ramp-queen whose life goes up in flames due to bad choices and drug abuse. Kangana played Shonali Gujral (based on the tragic downfall of a real-life Delhi model) like a waif posing as a diva, a lost child masquerading as a poised seductress. That sense of being lost never leaves her characters.

3. Tanu Weds Manu (2011): Pre-empting her Queen-ly triumph, Kangana scored very high as the small-town girl who has drinking and spousal issues which she won’t resolve reasonably. She won’t marry the man of her parent’s choice. But she won’t let him go either.When did Kangana ever claim to be reasonable? This was a khula-galaa wala performance. Robust and passionate, emotionally resonant and cathartic. The sequel in 2015 by the way, made no sense to me. Why were there two Kanganas in the film? What were they trying to prove? And to whom??

4. Queen (2014): In the year of highly forgettable Rajjo, and the frightfully campy Revolver Rani, Kangana sprang into super-stardom in Vikas (ahem) Behl’s Queen . As the bride-to-be ditched at the altar who goes on her honeymoon solo, Kangana sailed through the role of the clumsy hero with the self-assurance of a diva. Queen was to Kangana what Arth was to Shabana Azmi. Turning-point would be an understatement.

5. Simran (2017): In the year when she floundered with the pretentious, over-stuffed god-awful Rangoon, Kangana also did Hansal Mehta’s mischievous and dark Simran where she played a Gujarati con-woman in the US. Based on a real character, Kangana’s Simran was a simmering bundle of contradictions, both humane and hilarious, urbane and obnoxious, a pain and an enigma. Sadly the film was foiled by the controversies from behind the scenes. Ditto Manikarnika which suffered from the bad-vibes syndrome.