Saturday, 2 August 2014

Film review: Queen

Okay, I know this is few months too late, but better late than never.  Queen is one of those new age mainstream films, about assertion of women power.  An about-to-be-married girl finds that her fiancé wants to dump her.  She is dejected, but decides that she would go on her pre-booked honeymoon on her own!  It is a clever way to depict women's lib: what can be more liberating than a woman going on an adventurous honeymoon on her own?  

The story then shifts to Europe, notably Paris and Amsterdam.  She meets several colourful characters along the way; a hotel worker who is raising a child as a single parent - a result of one of her many one-night stands, three hostelites with whom she shares an initially cold, but later on warm relationship, a cantankerous Italian restaurant owner who challenges her for a kiss, indifferent relatives, and an Indian Muslim woman working as a prostitute in Amsterdam's red light area (a bit far fetched).  She even wins a cooking contest when she regales Europeans with delicate taste buds with gol goppas!  

By the end, when she does come back to India, she is confident enough to reject her fiancé's fresh advances and go it alone - a new age woman, who fights rejection, goes on a personal adventure, and emerges stronger in character and more independent minded.

What was interesting to watch was the audiences' involvement in the proceedings.  I watched this in a multiplex, and the many women in the audience were completely taken by Kangana's character Rani; egging her on, laughing with her, crying with her - and when the fiancé reappears towards the end one of them even cried out loud: aa gaya loser! (here comes the loser).  It seems that women's lib was working in the catcalls and shouting department as well - a male preserve until now!

Having said that, it is only natural that the women in the audience, having identified with the main protagonist's plight, should react like that.  By the end, they would want the wronged woman to emerge triumphant, to treat the fiancé as he deserves to be, for him to be thrashed by her three friends when he comes looking for her, and to finally throw the engagement ring in his face rather than hand it over to him.  She does, in the end, walk away from him, liberated, independent, and joyous.    

The songs are mostly confined to the background, and the film's strong points are its narrative by Vikas Bahl, and Kangana Ranaut.  It is an out and out Kangana film - one in which she grows on you through her naive, innocent, yet bold act.  There are several comic moments; Rani's father looking for the hotel worker during Rani's video chat,  the dance scene in the club, Rani's sloshed dance near a cabbie, the lizard incident in the hostel, among others.  

The kiss with the Italian, I thought, was unnecessary; it was one moment when Rani appeared weak - as in giving into the Italian's demands for a kiss, even though it was disguised as a challenge.  The three hostelites are absolutely wonderful; especially the little Japanese guy - played by Jeffrey Chee Eng Ho.  Rani's moments with the Russian guy - a delightful Mish Boyko - had potential to be developed as a romantic affair - if she can go on her own honeymoon, then why not find an inter-racial relationship for herself as well?  But this does not happen in the film, and Rani remains happily single in the end.    

Recommended viewing!

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