India Insight

Post-release marketing helps ‘Queen’ rule box office

Vikas Bahl’s film wasn’t supposed to make so much money. “Queen,” made on a meagre budget of 170 million rupees ($2.8 million) without the trappings of a big-ticket Bollywood movie, was initially slotted as a niche film that would hardly threaten Indian box-office records.

“Queen” didn’t have a leading male star, a key ingredient in the recipe for box-office success. It also had an unusual storyline, about an Indian woman who is jilted at the altar and goes on a solo trip to Paris and Amsterdam.

Bollywood audiences have traditionally shunned women-oriented films. And “Queen,” released on the eve of International Women’s Day, had a dismal first day, earning 15 million rupees ($250,000) in domestic box-office receipts.

Yet, three-and-a-half weeks later, “Queen” has grossed nearly 600 million rupees ($10 million) in cinemas, broken a Bollywood record, and its lead actress, Kangana Ranaut, is being hailed as the next big thing.

Industry experts said credit for the film’s success goes not just to its content that combines comedy with a heart-warming message, but also to an understated post-release marketing strategy.

Movie Review: Queen

(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.

  •