Movie Review: Queen
(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)
At one point in Vikas Bahlâs âQueenâ, 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 Ranautâs ownership of the character, as well as director Bahlâs conscious attempt at a subtle, screwball comedy that makes âQueenâ soar, making it a film where viewers root for the main character and find her naivete charming.
Rani (âQueenâ in Hindi) is a timid Delhi girl, one who never disobeys her parents and holds her fiancĂ© in such high regard that she declines a job offer because he doesnât want her to work.
When the film begins, Rani is starry-eyed with excitement that sheâs 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 fiancĂ©, 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. Itâs 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 – Raniâs 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, Raniâs 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 Raniâs new personality that he didnât 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 — sheâs turned over a new leaf. The desire to put everything in is what ruins the overall effect of âQueenâ.
Nevertheless, this is a fun film, and the lead performance makes a difference. After âDedh Ishqiyaâ, âHasee Toh Phaseeâ, âHighwayâ and now âQueenâ, it seems Bollywood is finally getting rid of the coy, virtuous heroine for good. That might be the best thing thatâs happened this year.
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