Movie Review: Queen
Star Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Rajkummar Rao; Lisa Haydon
Director: Vikas Bahl
‘Queen’ is a significant Bollywood marker, a film that is intensely local and gloriously global, with a terrific lead performance by Kangana Ranaut, in a story that bubbles over with real feeling and meaning.
Rani (Kangana Ranaut) is dumped just a day before her wedding by her fiance Vijay (Rajkumar Rao). Devastated, she decides to flee, because staying home to lick her wounds is not an option. So, she finds herself in Paris, and the journey she embarks on makes ‘Queen’ the kind of coming- of-age, discovery-of-self tale that Bollywood usually doesn’t touch with a bargepole. Because women-centric films don’t do well, do they? This is where Phantom Productions, which has made this ( their first was ‘Lootera’), has stepped in.
Big Punjabi weddings and Bollywood have had a long relationship, but where ‘Queen‘, both the girl and the film, start coming into their own, is when Rani is left to fend for herself, first in Paris, and then Amsterdam. A lone Indian girl, a ‘behenji’ with a ‘desi ghee tadka’, would usually fumble her way across crowded streets and annoyed pedestrians and find herself in a handsome stranger’s arms, sing a few songs, do a few ‘nakhras’ and gratefully accept ‘mandap’ and ‘mangalsutra’.
Kangana Ranaut revels in her solidly-written role, and delivers a first rate, heart-felt performance. There are only a couple of slips (in one, she pronounces the word ‘fiance’ perfectly, all rounded vowels: given her Rajouriness, this should have been a straight opening of mouth). I was also quite taken aback by the speed with which she junks her ‘chatak’ Lajpat Nagar ‘kurti’ look and adopts pastel, understated dresses. But no matter, I found myself watching Kangana Ranaut much more than her clothes. Her mobile face has sensibly been kept free from pancake, and more than anything else, Ranaut comes off believable: she does hurt like no other Bollywood heroine currently can.
Lisa Haydon nearly walks off with the film in her small role. She doesn’t place a single foot wrong as she strides long and smooth next to the diminutive Kangana. She left me asking for more. And the bunch of ‘foreigners’ that Rani raps with in Amsterdam are all well drawn, and what is even better, nicely rounded. The one part I didn’t feel as convinced about was Rao’s: he is made to whine and mumble altogether too much, as he makes his way through the film in uneasy fits and starts.
But that’s all right because this film isn’t about him. It’s about, hallelujah, her. It’s probably quite deliberate that Lisa Haydon’s name is also Vijay. And Ranaut is Rani, Queen of Hearts.