Bollywood dishes out such stereotypical and superficial movies that one just ends up watching one if they have nothing better to do. But this is changing and how. I watched ‘Queen’ starring Kangana Ranaut and I must say I’m quite blown with the level of film making Bollywood has been experimenting with lately. ‘Queen’ lingers on in your entire being much after you leave the theatre.
If a movie can do that to you, it’s a must-watch, isn’t it? Never mind what some critics say…they are best ignored and also forgiven for they know not what they say! A simple girl’s discovery of her self, her strengths, her dreams, her aspirations, unfurls layer by layer to finally see her blossom into a confident, self-realised being of substance.
Though the protagonist sets off on a honeymoon all by herself after her fiancé cancels off the wedding a few days before, the storyline is almost believable because Kangana is a sheer powerhouse of talent. She carries you with her throughout, scene by scene, so much so that you feel a little alone when the movie is over, but, nevertheless so happy for her.
It starts off the loud Punjabi wedding way, where the bride-to-be ‘Rani Mehra’ from Rajouri Garden Delhi is seen imagining all sorts of things a simple, middle-class, over-protected girl thinks about before her one special day. You see her dancing away to glory with her equally excited family, relatives and a best friend at the sangeet. I want to describe each and every scene from here on but that wouldn’t be fair.
Let me just break the coming-of-age film into portions that are neatly beaded together on a string. You see her on a smooth path of transformation, almost surreal but never dramatic. One moment Rani is crying helplessly, right after her fiancé, Vijay Dingra (played excellently by Rajkummar Rao of Kites and Shahid fame) calls off the wedding because she hasn’t ‘changed’ unlike him who went to the UK and is now officially ‘modern’. The next moment you see her forge ahead with her dream to explore Paris and Amsterdam on her own, and you say “Whoa girl!”
Flashbacks of Vijay wooing her since her student days hover around her, but she channelizes all of this into self determination, and not self-pity.
Rani lands in Paris, the city of love, dressed in a short kurti and jeans with a big suitcase. She does all the predictable things a girl from Rajouri would do in Paris. She calls loudly for a taxi for starters!
Then begins her journey in a foreign world – the culture shock of seeing people greet with a kiss, eating stuffed fish, her chance encounter and bonding with a half-Indian hotel maid, her getting sloshed and dancing away at the stage, her getting almost mugged but fighting tooth and nail for her bag, her living in a shared hostel room with three boys (a black Frenchman, a Spanish artist and a cute Japanese), her friendship and city tours with them, her encounter with a pole dancer from India, her selling and making money off feeding spicy “Queen’s Golgappas” to the French at a food fair and even a lip-kiss with an Italian hunk to prove to him that Indians are the best in everything including kissing! But nothing ever gets into an overtly Bollywood style, thankfully!
Lisa Haydon as the hotel maid, Vijaylakshmi is a short but significant contribution to the story. She helps Rani break out of her shell and learn to have fun in a foreign land, accepting her the way she is. The three boys and Rani make for a wonderful combination of comedy with their language limitations. But what is endearing is that despite the limitations, the foursome bond through the language of the heart. A scene at a church and one in the hostel room is particularly moving.
Meanwhile, having realised his folly, Vijay lands up in Paris and then to Amsterdam to apologize and regain her trust, but Rani makes a wonderful choice. Watch it to believe it.
Back in India after a journey of a lifetime, her suitcase replaced with a smart backpack, Rani is seen walking triumphant and confident in the choices she has made. You are sure to clap loudly as she walks away in that last scene.
The film has been directed by Vikas Bahl (of Chillar Party fame) and produced by Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane. The editing and choice of costumes is perfect. Rani never leaves her Rajouri Garden simplicity even in her pretty dresses from Paris and Amsterdam. The music is handpicked to perfection for the scenes. Don’t miss this one for anything!
Happy 2014 to all you movie buffs!