Kangna Ranaut is one Bollywood actress who has always been an enigma of sorts for me. While she had shown promise with her initial films like Gangster, Woh Lamhe and Life in A Metro and even won a National Award for Fashion, she was soon getting typecast in the roles that were coming her way. If that wasn’t the case then the films she chose tended to be outrageously bad like Kites, Game, Double Dhamaal, Rascals etc. In fact barring a Tanu Weds Manu I did not personally like her in any of the films she featured in of late for various reasons. Things seemed to slowly change last year with her presence in films like Shootout at Wadala and Krrish 3, and all of a sudden she seemed to be signing up films which were revolving around her like Rajjo (that it ultimately turned to be a dud is an altogether different story), Queen, Revolver Rani etc.
I was very curious about Queen in particular, the title didn’t really suggest anything about the film per se. The director Vikas Bahl is someone I have respect for since his days at UTV Spotboy where he had backed quite a few interesting films. I also found his debut film Chillar Party (which he co-directed with Nitesh Tiwari) to be quite entertaining and thus felt that Queen could be a dark horse of sorts for some strange reason. Maybe it was the mystery surrounding the film initially or probably the good things that I was getting to hear from people working on it, but somehow I was all geared up for the film slowly. The first look posters and the trailer reaffirmed my faith in the film and all that was left was for me to see the film and realize if I was right all along or not.
Queen is all about Rani (Kangna Ranaut) from the start till the very end (check out the end credits btw 🙂 ). Rani is a simple girl from Delhi who is content with her life which revolves around her family (parents, younger brother and grandmother), friends and her fiancé Vijay (Rajkummar Rao). So content is Rani in her own World that she doesn’t even think beyond Rajouri Garden, the area in Delhi that she belongs to. Life is all hunky dory and Rani is pleased and so are her family members and friends, as after all it’s her wedding coming up in a couple of days. With all the wedding arrangements happening, Rani is devastated when Vijay tells her that he cannot marry her now. Apparently he has moved ahead in life and is working in London now while Rani seems to be still the same and hence he doesn’t see any future for them together. After initially shutting herself up and crying her heart out she realizes that Vijay is not going to have a change of mind.
And thus she decides that all she needs now is a change of environment and she decides to go on her honeymoon……alone to Paris and then Amsterdam. What happens to Rani in this process? Does she manage to successfully undertake her honeymoon alone? Whom does she befriend in the process? Do Rani and Vijay get back together eventually? All these and more are what the film is all about. OK I do admit that I’ve certainly not had to go alone on a honeymoon 🙂 but I do know how it is to have your wedding getting called off at the last minute. One has to answer way too many questions from way too many people, some of whom mean nothing to you. Queen is but an inspiration for all the people who probably can identify with such situations, and believe me for this it’s not necessary only if your wedding has got called off. Break-ups, loss of a dear person, married relationship turning sour and more, there are certain situations that we all face at some time or the other. And what Rani i.e Queen does here is not to run away from the situation, but instead she decides to take some time off to be by herself and in the process strengthen herself.
I’ve never been to Paris or Amsterdam (but definitely do plan to visit them in the near future) and I don’t even know if this is a feasible option for everyone, but then if Rani can use her entire savings to fund her trip, so can a lot many more of us I am sure. Queen reminds one of Gauri Shinde’s English Vinglish, in a few ways. While Sridevi as Shashi Godbole is someone we mainly remember for being English challenged,the larger picture was that of her being totally uncomfortable in an alien land and how she slowly but surely comes to terms with life over there , makes new friends and ultimately finds a new meaning to her life. Here again we have Rani facing culture shocks in Paris and Amsterdam, in many ways. For her life so far was simple and convenient back home in Rajouri, but now she sees people like Vijayalakshmi (Lisa Haydon) comfortable with a child without wedlock and living life on her terms. The English Vinglish similarity sets in again in the form of an Italian chef/restaurateur on whom Rani develops a crush on, reminding one of the French chef in English Vinglish (Mehdi Nebbou). But thankfully that’s just a passing moment over here and the film steers clear of any romantic melodrama.
But these similarities are largely coincidental I believe, considering the situations that Rani and Shashi find themselves in respectively in Queen and English Vinglish. The film also doesn’t try to come across as a tourism ad for Paris and Amsterdam (thankfully) and even the Eiffel Tower is shown with a proper reference being made to it in the plot. Also one of the positives about the film is that while Rani slowly but surely becomes a lot more Worldly wise and undergoes a change internally; the whole thing is done subtly. There is nothing artificial about the whole thing; we do not see Rani undergoing any drastic physical transformation that would leave us smirking. People get friendly with Rani for what she is and not because of what she becomes, and that’s something which makes you feel good. The writing is witty all throughout and aids the proceedings completely. An example being the scene when the Italian chef challenges Rani by saying that Italians are the best when it comes to kissing and she retorts by saying Indians are good in kissing too, haven’t we all seen Emraan Hashmi doing it in film after film :).
There are some interesting moments strewn all over the film, like when Vijayalakshmi surprises Rani’s family by appearing in the Skype chat and how each one of them react to her appearance and presence. In fact the entire sequence post the “Hungama Ho Gaya” remix song is very well shot and enacted and shows that Kangna is a natural when it comes to humour, strangely this is a side that’s been rarely noticed in her previous films. Kudos to Vikas Bahl, Parveez Shaikh and Chaitally Parmar who’ve ensured that the writing adds the right colour to the film. In fact Kangna Ranaut’s involvement with the film seems to be extremely high considering that she’s been credited for additional dialogues as well. My only grouse with them lies in the fact that they could have tried to ensure that the second half of the film could have been a lot crisper. If I have any issue in particular with the film it is just this very point that the film meanders a bit post interval. Thankfully this doesn’t dilute the impact of the film overall. There is also a little humour that’s forced in the 2nd half, when Rani is happy in the company of her 3 friends of different Nationalities, thankfully the finale ensures that things are brought to order in time.
Talking of the music, Amit Trivedi is in super form and the songs (including the solo composition by Rupesh Kumar Ram– “Ranja”) are all in sync with the spirit of the film. In fact I would go on to say that the music is the second best thing in the film, no prizes for guessing the first 🙂 . Talking of performances the casting choices have gone pretty well in favour of the film and most of the actors do well. Lisa Haydon is sizzling hot as Vijayalakshmi and it’s a wonder that she hasn’t been seen more often in films. Hope with Queen a lot more people take notice of her and she gets her due. Rajkummar Rao doesn’t really have much to do in the film and it’s nice to see him sportingly play second fiddle to Kangna. I am sure most heroes would have a problem accepting the role of Vijay but this speaks volume again of Rajkummar Rao’s earnestness and the need to be associated with good films.
Ultimately Queen works and works reasonably well thanks to Kangna Ranaut, who’s spirited and in great form as Rani aka Queen. Some films are just meant to be made with/for some individuals and Queen is one such film. Vikas Bahl has done well in getting the leading lady right for the film and the two have gone on to work in tandem to create a film that would make them feel proud of even in the years to come. Queen may not be a great film, but it’s an interesting film for sure and it has its heart in the right place.