Queen The Film

[Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Lisa Hayden, Rajkumar Rao; Music: Amit Trivedi; Direction: Vikas Bahl]

About fifteen years ago, when I moved to Hyderabad, I was shopping for grocery for the first time in my life. I called a wife of one of my friends and asked her for English word for ‘hing’. In the film Queen, stuck in a food carnival in Amsterdam, Rani Mehra does the same thing. She calls her mum in the middle of the night who, after consulting many of her own friends, concludes that the English word for ‘hing’ is actually, hing.

Queen is, of course, much more than these small, but crackling, scenes. It is an experience of empowerment and enlightenment. It is such a sensitive and sympathetic work that terming it as feminist would be an insult. Make no mistake, it is unabashedly feminist. No woman in Queen is apologetic of what she does, whether she is an ardent housewife looking forward to her afternoon tea or whether she is a sex worker in Amsterdam. No one is judgemental about any woman, not even Rani, a middle-class Home Science graduate from Delhi’s Rajouri Garden. When her fiancé calls off the wedding just a day earlier, Rani is distraught, but is determined to go on her honeymoon, alone. After all, you don’t waste your tickets, especially if they are booked to Paris and Amsterdam.

Her experiences in these two cities form the bulk of the movie, and expectedly, that’s where the ‘rajri’ girl’s transformation and enlightenment happen. But they happen mainly because Rani herself is not judgemental. She looks at ‘Vijee’, her promiscuous neighbour in Paris or the Pakistani sex worker in Amsterdam with love and care. ‘Are you in Facebook? I’ll send you friend request,’ says the Amsterdam sex worker. Of course, Rani accepts the request. Would a Rajouri Garden girl have run away at the first instance of realising that she had entered a prostitution museum?

These moral judgements are not central to the film’s theme. And, mind you, these ideas occur only at the post-cinema analysis, Whilst watching the film, you are with Rani through and through. It doesn’t make you weep at her plight in both these cities. Yes, she struggles in these cities, from ordering the right food to even crossing the road properly, and, till the end, doesn’t have a clue, but you don’t stop chuckling and, often, laughing out loud. And when the first key moment of liberation comes, when Rani breaks out into a spontaneous ‘mehndi’ dance in the middle of a Paris night club, you can’t help joining the audience’s spontaneous applause. Kangana Ranaut, who is terrific as Rani, has you rooting for her from the word go. Throughout the film, she is made to look as unglamourous as required, and yet you just can’t take your eyes off her. Within ten minutes into the film you have invested so much emotion on her that you feel for her and urge her to make right choices. And when she does, you scream ‘Bravo Rani’. It is a movie where you forget everything else and become a protagonist. You cry for her, laugh for her, get embarrassed with her and, finally, get liberated with her. Queen is one of the movies that make you believe in the magic of movies, again.