Queen review: Kangana Ranaut is pitch perfect in a fabulous film
Ranaut as Rani brings out the sweetness, the hurt, the belligerence of her character perfectly.
Rani Mehra of Rajori, Delhi, is a good, Indian girl. The kind that you can rely upon to cook you a delicious meal, who will do her best to not to step out of line, who will take "Mummy-Daddy ki kasam" to establish her honesty. She's the sort of girl you can take home to your Mummy and Daddy, knowing she's the perfect, traditional daughter in-law. But within a few minutes of Queen's opening shot, Rani's long-time sweetheart and prince charming Vijay has turned out to be a villain. He dumps her unceremoniously, leaving Rani with honeymoon reservations and no wedding.
With her adoring family's blessings, Rani packs her suitcase and heads to Paris. There, she proves to be the best ambassador Delhi could ever have had. She's got dance moves that do her Punjabi genes proud. She pulls out a Dilliwali move that completely outwits the Parisian bag snatcher. She makes people fork out Euros for gol gappa. And while making friends on her European sojourn, she finds time to tell her newly-found partying pal to drink a little less and "do" less sex.
The plot of Queen has been easy to figure out every since its delightful trailer came out some time ago — heartbroken girl goes off to Europe, has fun and in the process discovers herself. Unsurprisingly, along the way her obnoxious fiancé realises what he'd let go and starts grovelling.
However, the point of Queen isn't so much about whether or not Rani returns to Vijay or if she finds a new love. Rani is the point of Queen and thanks to Kangana Ranaut's endearing and electric performance in this lead role, the film is a delight.
Ranaut has been charming us with her off-screen behaviour and, her National Award-winning role in Fashion notwithstanding, Queen is the first time she's got a script that really allows her to confirm she's more than a pretty face. There's no high fashion or flattering make-up to flaunt Ranaut's physical beauty in Queen, but this is a role that allows Ranaut to showcase not just her acting talents but also her wit because Ranaut is credited with contributing additional dialogues to the film.
Ranaut as Rani is pitch perfect. She brings out the sweetness, the hurt, the belligerence and the head-screwed-tightly-on-her-shoulders sensibility that is the pride of the Indian middle class. The cherry on this acting cake is that this lady's got superb comic timing.
Helping Ranaut along is a wonderful supporting cast, particularly Lisa Haydon as the half-Indian Vijaylakshmi and Rajkummar Rao who has the special gift of not acting roles but becoming them, and he does this again as Vijay. Haydon does an impressive job with the French accent. The real star of Queen, however, is writer-director Vikas Bahl. Bahl is able to draw out fantastic, spontaneous performances from all his actors, lead and supporting, Indian and foreign. It's such a refreshing change to see minor roles played by non-Indian actors being done credibly.
With Chaitally Parmar and Parveez Sheikh, Bahl has written one of the funniest and heartwarming coming-of-age stories that has come out of Bollywood. It's well-observed, full of optimism and feels so authentic that Rani, her friends and family quickly become your familiars.
Every character, no matter how fleeting their screen time, has been well thought out and given their moment. Adding to the script's strengths is the editing (by Abhijit Kokate and filmmaker Anurag Kashyap), which keeps Queen taut and focussed.
And yet, as fabulous as Queen may be, the film ends on a sweet but slightly dissatisfying note. Rani's journey is beautifully plotted, but the conclusion is weak because it lacks a sense of resolution. The conventions of romantic comedy require a final shot that belongs in a heart-shaped frame, but that is as boring as a conclusion can be. Queen finds a cleverer happy ending on the relationship front. However, the point of Queen isn't Rani's relationship status, but the blossoming of her self.
If only Bahl and his co-writers had ended the film with something as simple as a Facebook update that says Rani's father's sweet shop has opened an al fresco section (watch the film and you'll realise why I'm making this particular suggestion). Or maybe a shot showing Rani signing up for a cluster of courses. But that doesn't happen. At the end of her journey, Rani ends up almost exactly where she started and without any aim or dream. She's a lot more confident, yes, but as she cheerfully strides in a Delhi neighbourhood at the end of Queen, you can't help but wonder if she has any idea where she's headed.
Queen has been produced by Viacom18 which is a part of the Network18 group, that also publishes Firstpost
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