What a wonderful film this is people – a beautiful coming of age story, a heartwarming tale of self discovery – Queen is brilliantly scripted and extremely well acted – a little gem of a movie that makes you laugh, makes you cry and brings you out of the theatre with your faith in humanity restored.
Rating – ****½
Film – Queen (Release date 7 march 2014)
Starring – Kangana Ranaut, Lisa Haydon, Rajkummar Rao, Bokyo Mish, Jeffrey Ho, Joseph Guitobh
Producer – Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane
Director – Vikas Bahl
Story/Screenplay – Vikas Bahl
Music – Amit Trivedi
Queen – Trailer
The story is that of Rani Mehra (Kangana Ranaut)– girl from Rajouri, Delhi – she is the Halwai’s daughter, protected and sheltered, doted upon by her family, she studies home science like good girls do, wears salwar kameezes (with sleeves) and rarely goes out without her younger brother in tow.
She is introduced to a family friend’s son Vijay (Rajkumar Rao) who proceeds to pursue her and the families decide to get the two married. The movie begins with the ‘Sangeet’ evening before the wedding and a scene that is one day before the wedding – where Vijay tells Rani that he cannot marry her. He has just returned from abroad and thinks that homely Rani will not fit into his scheme of things.
Rani is aghast, fearing what this will do to her family and proceeds to lock herself in her room in spite of cajoling from a deeply worried father, a concerned younger brother rand a wise, matter of fact grandmother. She then has the idea to proceed alone for her honeymoon – after all she always wanted to go to Paris and the tickets are already done.
So she arrives in Paris, unhappy, alone, bewildered, unsure. There she is taken under the wing by Vijaylaxmi (Lisa Haydon), the free-spirited half-Indian single mother who cleans hotel rooms for a living but lives life to the fullest. An unlikely friendship springs up between the two. Rani is by turns shocked, scandalised and hesitant about her new experiences – her first time in a bar, her first drink, her first drunken tirade, her first time being mugged (but escaping due to her own sheer doggedness).
She then travels to Amsterdam and is horrified to find that she is booked into a youth hostel where she is expected to share a room with three men: a Russian, a Japanese and an French African man. Slowly she leans to have fun, to accept simple, unadulterated friendship from these men, and even shares a kiss with a wickedly handsome Italian restaurant owner.
During this time, her finance Vijay has been trying to get in touch with her, but she avoids his calls. Where earlier she had been hoping and praying he would call, he no longer holds allure for this new, confident Rani who has now seen something of life, of simple human decency, of true friendship.
Everything in this film feels just right – at the beginning it is the family dynamic of the wise old dadi, the worried to death dad and the protective younger brother that strikes just the right chord – real, identifiable and completely true to life. The blossoming of an unlikely relationship between the conventional Rani and completely unconventional Vijaylaxmi that began on the balcony of a hotel with the latter hurling abuse at a would be lover also flows beautifully.
However some of the loveliest, funniest and most touching moments of the film are those with Rani getting to know her three male roommates, as her inhibitions, preconceptions and fears slowly fall away and she begins to recognise the importance of basic human goodness. Even the little episode with Rukhsar (or Roxette) the stripper/hooker in Amsterdam, where Rani proceeds to teach everyone in a strip joint how to do an Indian dance seems natural and doesn’t seem at all farfetched.
Kangana Ranaut’s performance in this film is breathtakingly good. Her portrayal of a vulnerable, essentially innocent and inherently accepting soul is absolutely bang on. This is not a movie about a makeover – we don’t see the guache young girl transform into a well turned out swan. The change is much more subtle. So she wears slightly different clothes and straightens her hair, but the story is that of an inward journey where a young woman reaches within herself to connect with her essential self, where she evolves, blossoms, and comes into her own at several levels not just at a superficial or physical level.
Lisa Haydon as the spectacular looking, bohemian Vijaylaxmi does a wonderful job as do the all the characters in the film including Rani’s family and her roommates. In the film, we have all these people who do not speak each other’s language, but still communicate, learn to understand, forge genuine friendships that love and support but also have so much fun!
This is a film that makes you want to travel the world. It makes you want to go backpacking on a shoestring, makes you want to meet people from all over the world, exploring, meeting, knowing, understanding, discovering – it just reminds you about the core of humanity and the goodness in people, regardless of where they are from, their background, their history, nationality or the language they speak.
Vikas Bahl’s direction and screenplay are nothing short of brilliant; his earlier efforts with Chillar Party had not led us to expect so much from him. This is a feel good film that I recommend everyone watch. Can I just repeat myself? It is a good time for Indian cinema!
By – Reena Daruwalla
Movie trailer – Courtesy Viacom YouTube Channel
Poster – Queen Facebook Page