Queen – A Review

Vikas Bahl directs Kangana Ranaut in Queen a flipped on its head Euro-trip movie which puts the female lead in all the same positions that were exclusively male bastions. Happy women’s day indeed.

Queen starts off with an upbeat “London Thumakda” by Amit Trivedi shot to show a Delhi household in the middle of wedding preparations. Right from the get go you know that this is going to be a fun ride. Everything feels real, organic almost in the same way as band baaja barat did, but more so. This is not a YRF-Johar wedding household this is very Delhi and very real and very relatable.  What follows is the main premise of the movie and it would be a crime to leak it because it ends up being a very fun turn of events – well not so much for Rani.  Well that is until she decides to go on her honeymoon by herself to fulfill her lifelong dream of seeing Paris.

Kangana plays Rani the eponymous Queen who goes from being a naïve home-science girl from Rajauli, Delhi to being the globetrotting backpacking Chick in the due course of the movie. Kangana lives and breathes Rani so much so that it is impossible to imagine this role to be played by anyone else. She is restrained while still being uninhibited and in that one scene where she gets drunk and goes off on a rant – in my books it ranks right up there with Mr. Bachchan’ drunken rant about liver problems. Yep she is THAT good. Not for once you would believe her to be putting on an act – Bahl and Kangana have both put in a lot of thought in terms of the smallest idiosyncrasies that define the quintessential first time “abroad” travelling naïve Indian girl. Take the insistence on hanging onto her purse for dear life whether it is while getting mugged or while doing a faux-strip tease where she stuffs her sweater in the purse. This is Kangana at her absolute best and honestly I would argue that it ranks right up there with one of the best female performances of the year when the year concludes.

Kangana is supported by an assortment of characters who she crosses paths with on her Euro trip – there is Lisa Haydon who plays Vijaya Lakshmi the Indian-French-Spanish hybrid who eases Rani into the Parisian way of life. Then there are the Troika of hostel mates Oleksander – the Russian artist, Taka the Japanese tourist and Tim the French Musician who help Rani forge the unlikeliest of Bromance while in Amsterdam. Rajkumar Rao plays Vijay – Kangana’s fiancé and is quite effective yet again. He is an actor who has a knack of picking superb roles without giving a second thought to the length of the role and always comes off as earnest.

Bahl packs a solid punch in the first half where the laughs come easy and you fall in love with Rani. The second half is where a little more thought would have made this movie perfect. The sub-plot with Rukhsar the red-light district exotic dancer was almost entirely unnecessary. Also in final adventure that Bahl puts Rani on I feel he tries to be too ambitious and it chips away a little bit the honesty with which he has built the whole thing up. But it is a minor complaint when compared to the enormously entertaining and entirely believable journey that Bahl takes Rani on. Also I would like to believe the “Alice in Wonderland” Sweatshirt that Bahl put Rani in wasnt a mere co-incidence and that is the level of detail that makes this a movie worth revisiting so that you can pour over the details and soak in its richness.

Watch this movie for the fantastic Kangana Ranaut. Watch this as it takes Euro Road Trip, Drunken street antics, and platonic bromance from the tightly held grasps of the male leads of Bollywood and puts in the closely guarded purse of Rani from Rajauli Delhi!


Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

The last time I was this happy was a week ago and then I went in an saw Delhi Belly which was foul, unfunny and a complete bore. Today was an extra special day and I went in for Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara – dreading the outcome because the promos had been far from flattering – cheap product placement ( Mishu Mishu Yahoo video chat – Skype’s better and then the darr ke aage jeet hai Sprite placement uggh!). Read on..

Abhay Deol , Farhan Akhtar and Hritik Roshan are three childhood friends who’ve made a pact to select a adventure sport each that the other two also have to compulsorily participate in. This is in the backdrop of Abhay’s Kabir proposing to the very fetching Kalki Koelchin. After Hritik’s stock broker from the 90’s act of buy buy sell sell and a lot pouting and slouching the three end up in Spain each carrying a lot of baggage – not the sort which the airline make you pay a thousand bucks a kilo.

All the three Adventure-sports sequence are thrilling and the camera work is probably some of the best in recent use in Indian movies. However I never was and never will be a fan of the bourne-ish hand-held camera work it just is dizzying and there are enough sequence where the cinematographer seems to have forgotten the basic of frame making ( you do not shoot a moving object by zooming in and moving in a different plane – the effect is nausea-inducing). But that misstep aside the movie is highly stylized which captures the majestic views of Spain in their full Mediterranean glory.

The songs which didn’t sound very catchy or memorable as standalone music videos work fantastically in the context of the movie – none of them jarring or out of place. The scenes with the various latin dances from flamenco to Paso to Tango work well with the setting. This is a lesson a certain Bhansali could learn – you don’t need lavish sets to set the mood right each time .

Of the three leads Abhay is slightly awkward especially when the deol genes kick in during the dancing sequences. Hritik is pretentious with his London buoy uptight avatar. Farhan is a revelation with his natural charm and goofy demeanor. Kalki is good as the annoying girlfriend and Katrina is a goddess who can make the flimsiest of peasant dresses look like the robes that a renaissance artist would’ve carved out of a block of marble for while working on the statues of the Athenian deities. And any movie becomes a hundred times more awesome that has the name Naseerudin shah associated with itself Deepti Naval is a bonus.

My favorite scene from the movie is the scene where Farhan after his big revelation sits atop a gorge with the sunrise magic unfolding in the background. Reminded me of “into the wild” in a very very good way. It’s the same solemn tranquil feeling that I felt then and that I felt today watching that particularly beautiful scene unfold. The lack of traditional bollywood histrionics of the big aha moments and the change of hearts is a refreshing change.

The comparisons to Dil Chahata Hai are obvious and not completely out of place. This is a bromance with a kick of adrenaline. This maynot achieve the cult status that DCH did but it might get very close and proves that talent really is a genetic thing atleast the Akhtar household proves so. Zoya’s Sophomore attempt is a solid one and one that manages to fill the cinema halls at 10:15 PM on a Tuesday night in Pune (now that is saying quite something) so it is doing something right.

Just a bit of trivia – if anyone is wondering why they thanked Hermes in the beginning of the movie? Well bag-vati is a Birkin Bag – the most recognizable and sought after bag in the world –a Bag which has a 4-6 year long waiting list. It’s handmade by the good folks at Hermes Fashion house in Paris.

Ignore the sometimes preachy sermons about seizing the day and enjoy the beautiful vistas of Spain, the obvious chemistry amongst its leads – some seriously laugh out loud moments and a refreshingly entertaining fair. Oh and a scene I am not going to forget in a long long time KATRINA-SPAIN-TOMATINA FESTIVAL.

This article is a reproduction from my facebook account.