She is a simple, innocent bride-to-be, dressed in a loose, beige hand knit cardigan and churidar kurta, getting her mehendi done. Her thoughts during her mehendi ceremony are also simple……”Mummy ne saree nahin pehni…yeh Chintu kahaan hai,phone pe meri photo lena chahiye,Facebook ke liye…parson meri first night hai…dar lag raha hai…”She is, of course, a virgin.
Her fiancé has been calling her urgently to meet her at a coffee shop. She walks up to his table, coy and demure and dainty and starts talking, her words as rapid and simple as her thoughts….’aap wait nahin kar sakte ..”He cuts her abruptly and tells her he can’t marry her. She looks blank and dumbfounded. Then there is disbelief. Then, denial. As the truth hits home, tears start welling up, her voice starts trembling. Over the years, he has moved on from being a small town man to a man of the world, ever since he has been to London. ”Hamara status match nahin hota…. we will be friends ya…”he says casually. She runs out, weeping and lost. Runs back again, lost for words. All she can think of is how it may give her father a heart attack. That he should speak to her parents. Back home, she locks herself in her room for a night.
In the morning she announces she wants to go on her honeymoon alone. After all, her tickets are booked for Paris.
In his second film after Chillar Party, the director, Vikas Bahl has his story and script, so well centered around the protagonist, Rani ,that right from scene one, he has the audience rooting for her, engaging with her, crying with her, laughing with her at her silly Santa Banta jokes and even applauding her when she does the heroic thing at the right moment.
In some ways, reminiscent of English Vinglish and a helpless Sridevi in Paris, Queen takes Rani on a trip to Paris and Amsterdam, forces her to live by herself and come on her own. Like she says at one point in a drunken state (the best drunken performance on screen for a long time) to her new,hot and bold friend, Vijaylaxmi,”sab kuch akele kar rahi hoon, akee gunde se fight kar rahi hoon, akele Eiffel tower dekh rah hoon…” She has just saved herself from being mugged in a dark alley, by holding on to her bag, struggling against a big guy, rolling over with her bag, straddling it with her thighs but simply not letting go. The heroic deed, done most unheroically, has the audience clapping. Especially when she tells her Vijaylaxmi,”ab woh kabhi Dilliwaalon se panga nahin lega.”The lines may play to the gallery but they work like a charm.
Kangana has many, many clap worthy moments throughout. Watch how she stands in drunken pride as she says,”maine kabhi koi galat kaam nahin kiya,” or when she innocently says,”main Vijay se zyada good looking hoon…itna life kharab ho gaya..”Soon she moves from self-pity to determination. In a beautifully shot close up, we see the look of wild defiance in her yes as opens up her simple braid and lets loose on the dance floor.
Another scene stealing moment comes when the camera is placed strategically in front of her and a “cute’ French restaurant owner challenges her if Indians kiss better than the French, Her facial acrobatics are hilarious as she mentally braces herself for her first kiss.
From time to time you are reminded she is a virgin having the best time on her ‘honeymoon’. The way she thinks aloud, ’meri bag mein condom hai’ (because Vijaylaxmi has put some in her bag), the way she picks up sex toys at a shop as gifts for her family without realising what they are, the way she jumps up in fright in her hotel room on her first night there, at the sounds of loud lovemaking from the next room, the way she wears her bra underneath the covers in the presence of a man; would otherwise have appeared like going overboard if not for Kangana’s smooth and easy performance.
Rajkummar Rao makes an impact despite very little screen time. Lisa Haydon as the hot Vijay Laxmi suits the part.
Every bit of fabulous performance from all comes from the writing alone. Kangana, incidentally is credited for additional dialogue.
Queen marks a significant turning point in women centric films in its honest and entertaining treatment.
It is all about how Rani is Kangana sans makeup and Kangana is Rani.
If Shahrukh is King Khan, Kangana is Queen Ranaut.
More power to ‘her’ cinema.