India Insight

Movie Review: Queen

March 6, 2014

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

At one point in Vikas Bahl’s “Queen”, lead character Rani has too much to drink on the streets of Paris. She bursts into loud sobs over her broken marriage, but perks up when she hears a Hindi song. Kangana Ranaut, who plays Rani, changes her body language in a flash, easily transitioning from despair to euphoria.

It is Ranaut’s ownership of the character, as well as director Bahl’s conscious attempt at a subtle, screwball comedy that makes “Queen” soar, making it a film where viewers root for the main character and find her naivete charming.

Rani (‘Queen’ in Hindi) is a timid Delhi girl, one who never disobeys her parents and holds her fiancé in such high regard that she declines a job offer because he doesn’t want her to work.

When the film begins, Rani is starry-eyed with excitement that she’s getting married in a couple of days and will live in London after honeymooning in Paris, a city she says is her favourite. But a few hours later, those dreams are shattered — she has been dumped at the altar by her chauvinistic, insensitive fiancé, and all she can think of is the honeymoon in Paris.

So she decides to go alone, perhaps more to get away from sympathetic relatives at home. Once in Paris, she almost forgets her heartbreak thanks to Vijaylaxmi, a free-spirited waitress who takes Rani under her wing and shows her how to have a good time. It’s with Vijaylaxmi and the three male room-mates that Rani stumbles upon in her hostel room in Amsterdam on the next leg of her journey, that she discovers herself and finds her voice.

The entire film is just that – Rani’s coming of age. But except for 20 minutes towards the end when the theme starts getting repetitive, you are not likely to get bored. Bahl populates his film with endearing characters, including Taka, Rani’s chirpy Japanese roommate with a sad past; and Oleksandr, the Russian artist who treats Rani with disdain before warming up to her.

Yet, even a premise that has so much potential can be wasted if it stretches on for too long. It is almost as if Bahl had so many good ideas to depict Rani’s new personality that he didn’t want to let go. So there is a rock concert; a panipuri making competition; an altercation with an Italian chef; and what not. We get it — she’s turned over a new leaf. The desire to put everything in is what ruins the overall effect of “Queen”.

Nevertheless, this is a fun film, and the lead performance makes a difference. After “Dedh Ishqiya”,Hasee Toh Phasee”,Highway” and now “Queen”, it seems Bollywood is finally getting rid of the coy, virtuous heroine for good. That might be the best thing that’s happened this year.

(Follow Shilpa on Twitter at @shilpajay. This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

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