At one point in the film, in a drunken stupor, Kangna Ranaut captures the life of the average Indian girl – Tum jiska bhi naam lo, maine sabki baat maani hai. To me that was the defining moment of the film. Indian girls are taught to be ‘good’ rather than ‘authentic’. Lisa Haydon’s Vijaylakshmi, tries to bring Kangna out of her inhibitions. But where Queen becomes superlative is that it neither judges Vijaylakshmi (unlike Deepika’s character being judged in Cocktail) nor does it judge Kangna’s Rani for being what college bullies term as being ‘behenji’. Its a rare script where the heroine comes into her own but doesn’t necessarily become the opposite of what she was to prove her worth. Even at the end of the Queen, Kangna’s character remains the girl from Rajouri, albeit with better confidence.
A lot has been written about Kangna’s performance and she has done full justice to a strong author backed role. Perhaps she personally related to Rani, as she has been criticised by Bollywood and some viewers for her small town looks and her style of talking. Succeeding for Kangna also must have been similar to Rani’s self discovery.
What is also remarkable about Queen, is that for the first time you have a heroine’s family, that is understably upset about their daughter’s marriage being cancelled at the last minute, but doesn’t go into theatrics or forcing her to forget the guy or marry someone else soon. At no point do we see the family telling her that her life is ruined. They are just quietly supportive, so much so that her father is surprised but doesn’t ask her anything about the sex toy shop bills. One of the endearing portrayals of family interactions for me, was how whenever Kangna would want to hang up the phone or disconnect Skype, her mother would talk atleast 5 more minutes and she would have to cut her mother off mid-way. That so reminded me of how all our mothers are. We love them, but sometimes we have to cut the call and though they feel hurt about it, they love us too.
The writing also follows cinematic grammar. For me, the greatest evidence of that was when Kangna sees the Eiffel tower and memories of her ex fiance (Rajkumar Rao, in an advanced version of his role from Love, Sex aur Dhokha) flood her. For the next 5 minutes wherever she goes she ends up seeing the Eiffel tower, its like she can’t escape it. That to me was a brilliant cinematic way of showing how when we most want to suppress unpleasant thoughts, especially those of personal loss, they keep showing up. The mind keeps bringing up the same images and thoughts.
Rajkumar Rao’s role is very brilliantly written. He is just a garden variety Indian MCP, wanting to emotionally and physically control his fiance. The kind who puts up shaadi.com profiles of ‘wanted traditional yet modern girl’ (really what’s up with that?). So he when he returns from phoren, he wants a better status wali wife so plain Jane Rani won’t do and yet he can’t take even the better status wife if she has a mind of her own. Very telling are the flashbacks that explore what might seem to many Indian families normal expectations of a fiance but are really steeped in patriarchy. The need for control is strongly established when he disregards the pain she may have gone through on being dumped suddenly and insists she feel guilty that he had been looking for her for 5 days. The portrayal of nosy ‘log’ is also very real with how more than Kangna’s parents, her overseas relatives who’ve never seen her for years, seem to be more concerned about her barbaad life. Isn’t that true even in real life?
As a small town girl myself, Queen felt very personal to me. Kangna’s journey in the film was so close to my own reality. I had warned my friends before watching the movie, that I might relate too strongly to the movie and might get emotional. But to my surprise the movie makes a point without tying the viewers into emotions. Its just reality with a sense of humour. As four of us girls walked out of the theater after the movie, we saw all the ladies discussing it animatedly and in good cheer, but the men in the audience were walking out with sombre expressions. Were they wondering if their significant others also would secretly want to post ‘Kutta’ on a facebook wall? 😛
Go watch the movie if you haven’t already. Its rare such a real and fun movie comes out of Bollywood.