Queen (2014) – There and Back Again

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Enter Rani, the innocent, industrious, sweet, and naïve girl from Rajouri who resolves to go to her honeymoon all alone after the dejection of rejection by her fiancé Vijay (Rajkumar Rao) just three days prior to her marriage. Enduring this adventure on her own, for this extremely lovable girl after her abrupt break up, Queen tells us the journey of Rani from Rajouri to Paris, Amsterdam, and back to Rajouri again, and the revelations of reality that she meets during her sojourns in Europe away from home sweet home, India.

Kangana Ranaut assumes the role of Rani, and from the beginning until the end, the movie is all Rani with Kangana nowhere to be seen. Scripted and filmed completely from Rani’s point of view, the central character of Rani completes a prolific character arc in the course of the movie, which is viscerally a tale of self-discovery and realization of a typified Delhi girl. Her multicultural experiences in Paris and Amsterdam transform this dependent girl, Rani, into an enlightened being—innocent and joyous, yet by the end of the movie—liberated and of age moving ahead with a jubilant arrival at true consciousness of living and the epiphanies of life. Kangana delivers the performance of her lifetime here—a total knockout act of art, where she disappears and only Rani appears; the summit any actor could achieve. The humane makeover from a simple girl trapped in a complex, heart-crushing predicament until she realizes the open world out there, where you only have to keep your eyes open and allow destiny to work; Kangana staggers in this evolution of Rani. Consequently, she delivers what has to be one of the strongest performances, male or female, of past couple of years from Bollywood.

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As a motion picture, Queen encompasses a variety of positive elements eventually emerging as a wholesome movie—the peak mainstream cinema could reach. A story covering the growth of a polarizing character who appears to be a social recluse, whilst a completely vivacious individual amidst her circle, Queen presents Rani as a flower that is too restrained in alien circumstances, but in it lives a resolve of a meteorite waiting to burst into life around those who cherish her. Precisely such circumstances work in her favor when she meets Vijay Laxmi (Lisa Hayden), a free spirited server in a Parisian Hotel, forming a close bond that changes her life and brings forth a new Rani daring to fly like a bird. Along her path, she stumbles across another life-changing scenario when she meets the trio of diverse people that redesign her inner glory, and aid her to blossom like a flower in the charms of spring. Thereafter, there was no looking back for Rani—once a bird learns to fly, all they do is fly… The best part of Rani’s character growth is how she evolves higher than degenerating. Her morals, ethics, and stances remain intact until the end, but she grows as an individual and becomes complete—her horizons expans teaching her the ultimate lesson of living and relating… The story, primarily, focuses on the highest common factor, not the lowest common multiple, which—from a social standpoint—is one of the flattering aspects of the movie.

In his second directorial venture after Chillar Party, Vikas Bahl stumps the audience with a dramatic and powerful execution of a soft and melodic theme of Queen. The movie being slightly longer for today’s standards, around two and half hours, Vikas Bahl co-writes a pleasing fictional bio-dramatic comedy. The director along with cowriters Chaitally Parmar and Parveez Sheikh present a story that never feels long or far-stretched despite its length. Each sequence augments the drama taking the character to a fine finale, whilst evoking the audience to root for Rani until the grand culmination in the climax. The way Bahl handles this coming of age, self-realization story and transplants the soul of the story into celluloid; the movie shapes up as a soulful philosophical drama that is touching, soothing, and terrifically entertaining—not one moment going to waste, and every scene carrying the story to a grand resolution.

In all the grandness in presentation and the distinctness of the story and characters, it would be incorrect to call Queen a flawless movie, obviously. The main trite is the predictability of the plot, and the initial portions featuring Rani. One would be hard-pressed to find somebody as naïve as that in Delhi today, as Indian as one could be. The much worn out Indianized format of garnering appreciation abroad through Indian food, products, people, sentiments, et cetera at times create an implausible atmosphere in an otherwise plausible and realistic movie that Queen is. Nonetheless, the trifling cheesy moments notwithstanding, Queen is a jaunty trip—not just for the Queen, or Rani, but for every individual who watches this magnificent display of cinema that manages to intersect, to form a composite of heart and head, of warmth and intellect.

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With tidbits—from the original score, the timing of songs, the theme music, and the performances all hitting the right chords, Queen is a movie par excellence. The performances, in general, rule the roost, as they say, but the standout, theatrical dynamite comes from the lead of the movie, Kangana Ranaut—who else? The bubbling Delhi girl who is spotless in attributes, bombastic in herself, and adorably cute, Kangana is Rani and in essence, she makes the movie; without her, the movie wouldn’t have even existed! Having said it all, at the underlying base, Queen leaves one simple note of friendship and joy—life as happiness unto itself. Much adulation to director Vikas Bahl for handling the movie with élan, and presenting a rich story that is earnest, fulfilling, and makes you smile as you walk down the theatre when it’s all said and done. Perhaps also, taking along with you the rich experience of watching the simplicity of a Queen in a movie rightfully named Queen—a Rani among modern day characters, but just the girl next-door in reality—aha!

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