Bombarded with the same male-centric roles, I have almost given up hope regarding Indian cinema and its selective portrayal of only a section of the society that it attempts to understand. It is not only unfair, but also alienating, since there is no representation of women in cinema. In case there is, there is a certain characteristic to it that makes it “feminine”, and a story of a woman’s struggle and her proving her worthiness by cleaning herself of societal angst. Which is fine, but like the coming of age for movies like “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” or the sexual freedom of “Vicky Donor”, certain movies just seem odd with female leads in them. Queen defies this.
Vikas Bahl wrote the script of Queen inspired from women that he knew in Delhi, women whose lives were planned out for them by their parents, and who resigned themselves to these lives. But that doesn’t seem to be what Rani, the protagonist of the film, is made of. She did fall in love with the man she is about to marry, she is not forced into marrying a stranger. It is a choice she makes herself, and when he breaks off this marriage, she is supposed to be held accountable. This is where my love for the movie begins to rise. The film does not portray Rani to be a weak woman who has no say in where her life is headed. She has made a mistake; she is not perfect. Indian audiences need to be able to get used to women who are prone to mistakes, and who make wrong decisions in their lives. Women who take decisions from their own faculty of reason, and not the helpless agreement of her parents. Rani fails in her ability to choose, and the subtle message that came across to me was the fragility of the character of the lead; and so much unlike the usual plot-device women that I am used to seeing on the screen. She needs to be held accountable for choosing a man that was clearly wrong for her, who she chose to marry in spite of his many unacceptable flaws, as we eventually find out.
Rani leaves the comfort of her home, to pursue her dream of visiting Paris on her honeymoon, another decision that she makes just because she wants to. There is no rationale behind this, she takes this decision off her own accord, and it will be a decision she will be held accountable for. The rest is a part of the movie that I am not going to spoil for people who haven’t watched it; but I will advice them to.
The music is wonderful; Amit Trivedi uses the various points of the movie to very elaborate song sequences, and yet at points where you realise the seriousness of the script, it devolves into a very minimalist vocal performance. I have to once again concur to the fact that Amit Trivedi is definitely the next major song-writer for our times, and he has yet a long way to perform. Other than this, the acting is decent, although I do think the accolades that Ranaut has received are slightly overrated; she has done a good job portraying a character that due to her acting abilities, does not seem an unusual choice. The rest of the cast is also above average, with Lisa Haydon’s performance quite weak at certain moments. For me, the best acting performance was given by Rajkummar Rao, quite simply because I truly hated him after watching the movie. He has also proved himself to be a decent actor in the movie “Kai Po Che”. I would personally love to see more of his movies, albeit in a different kind of role.
When this movie was being discussed, I was sure I wanted to review it. This was because it is the kind of movie that I would like to see more of in the coming years. Yes, it was not perfect. It was a funny, dramatic film, but in a way that had some element of ridiculous fantasy involved. But it is definitely a turner in terms of how female characters are viewed. Whether it is Rani and her subtle acceptance of her mistakes, her desire to do what she wanted without regards to the consequence, her travelling with a majority of men and not having romantic feelings of any of them (while also proving herself to be a wonderful friend) or her sexual brazenness at kissing a complete stranger without any idea for future commitments, is something that Indian audiences will come to appreciate after some time. And that is a time that I am looking forward to with great patience.