Kangana rules in Queen
Welcome to the second edition of the Weekend Movie Club. Queen won the poll by a wide margin. If you haven’t seen it yet it is available on Google Play and iTunes for streaming.
I loved Queen the first time I saw it and I enjoyed it even more the second time around to do this review.
Spoiler Alert: Avert your eyes if you don’t want to be spoiled.
When we first meet Rani (Queen) her wedding preparations are in full swing. It’s day of the mehendi (henna) ceremony, a day before the actual wedding. Rani is full of verve and spirit and has a family that dotes on her and she is getting married to Vijay. A perennially popular name for a Hindi movie hero. What can possibly go wrong?
Plenty, we soon find out. When the London-returned Vijay makes his first appearance, we find that he is no prize. He wants to call off the wedding because he considers Rani gauche and no longer cool enough for his fancy self. We see Rani crumple before our very eyes, her freshly applied mehendi flaking off as she nervously clutches her phone. As she returns home crestfallen with her chaperone and younger brother Chintu, hugging herself, clutching her sweater, you just want to give her a hug.
Pay close attention to both the mehendi and the ugly sweater (her security blanket) she is wearing, they are a guide to Rani’s evolution throughout the movie.
After moping for what might have been and a pep talk by grandma, Rani decides that she wants to go on alone her honeymoon to Europe. Thus begins Rani’s journey from Delhi to Paris to Amsterdam and back again to Delhi.
When she leaves for Paris she is still sad about being dumped, but through subsequent epiphanies at pivotal moments, she discovers her own strength and recognizes Vijay for the controlling cad that he is. But enough about Vijay, the movie is about Rani and how she discovers her mojo, her spirit which was always there. Even when she was being chaperoned on dates by her younger sibling and bullied by her fiancé’.
In Paris, Vijaylakshmi the lanky half-Indian hotel maid takes her under wing. Initially, Rani is shocked and scandalized by Vijaylakshmi devil-may-care attitude compared to her own uptight conservative upbringing. However, she is non-judgmental and open to new experiences and ideas and accepting of people for who they are. At the Paris night club when the drunk Rani loses her sweater and lets her hair down to the tune of Asha Bhonsale’s 1970s hit, Hungama, it’s a sight to behold! Though Rani and Vijaylaksmi are nothing alike on the surface, they form a close bond.
When she heads to Amsterdam on a train to a Youth Hostel, it’s a different Rani than the one that landed in Paris. Initially she is freaked out at the idea of having to share a room with three strange guys in a youth hostel. However, they win her over with their humanity and understanding of where she is coming from, something she never experienced with her clueless fiancé.
Rani soaks up the experience, takes up new challenges, sometimes makes an ass of herself, aces a challenge with flying colors. For the very first time in her sheltered life, she experiences freedom and finds it exhilarating. So when Vijay shows up in Amsterdam to make amends, she is ready. She no longer wilts at his criticism but stands up for herself and does not let him destroy what remains of her vacation. She will deal with him when she gets back to Delhi and deal with him she does!
Kangana is Rani, she makes Queen, utterly believable and real. Her National Award for acting in 2014 for Queen was well deserved. She imbues Rani with grace and character even in her most vulnerable moments. Rani’s transformation from a diffident and shy young woman to a confident person who knows her mind happens before our very eyes. Kangana’s Rani is immensely likeable and vulnerable and makes you want to root for her. We share her enthusiasm, cheer her small victories, feel for her when she is at the receiving end of Vijay’s clueless male privilege. Kangana Ranaut is a revelation as Queen. The supporting cast was memorable too, starting with her family, her grandma, parents and Chintu felt like a close knit Punjabi family. As for the three guys she befriends on her journey, together with they reminded me of the United Colors of Benetton. Lisa Haydon as Vijaylakshmi stood out for me, tall and willowy and charming, she was Rani’s very own fairy godmother.
I liked Vikas Bahl’s little directorial touches, like the motif of the fading mehendi and Rani’s ugly sweater. As she becomes more confident and the mehendi fades, she no longer needs her security blanket. Even the change in Rani’s wardrobe is subtle, she still sticks to long skirts and kurtas. Its more daring than before but Rani is never going to be another Vijaylakshmi, she just going to be the best Rani that she can be!
One of the reasons that this movie resonated with me was that I have known many Ranis IRL, who unquestioningly accept the unspoken mores of the society they live in. Shackled by tradition that expects women to put up with men who belittle them. Unlike the stereotypical Hindi movie leading lady, Rani realizes that there is more to her life than a man. She doesn’t waste away pining for a man who clearly doesn’t deserve her, she goes ahead and lives her life. You go girl!
Credits: From IMDB
P.S. If you missed our first outing, check it out and stayed tuned for a poll of classic comedies to be reviewed next by the insufferable movie snob. Suggestions and questions welcome as always.