Thursday, May 1, 2014

Queen: Celebrating Silliness

Queen's trailer already reveals that it is a film about a girl going alone on a honeymoon. Implying behind this line is that a marriage has been called off at the last moment - that is beyond acceptable in any society. The trailer promises a journey of liberation and self discovery. Queen delivers more with its awesome dialogues, brilliant performances, Amit Trivedi's catchy music and lots of comic touches.

Queen opens itself on the night of Ladies Sangeet with the catchy song London Thumakda playing on background. The very next day, our couple meets at CCD where the groom (Vijay) tells the bride (Rani) that he is calling off the marriage. To mellow down this horrible tragic incident, Vikas Bahl, Queen's director, shares the present with flashbacks of how Vijay, played by Rajkumar Rao, had wooed Rani, our Queen Kangana Ranaut, during college time. When did they first meet, how he flirted, how they began to like to each other and how there were differences. There are bollywood movies which spend the entire first half in this, not to mention adding a couple of unnecessary songs. Not Queen. It has more ground to cover.

The next day, Kangana Ranaut announces that she wants to go on her honeymoon alone and hence begins the celebration of silliness.  I write silliness not with contempt but as a best response to tragedy.  Silliness is a virtue of being our true self, of living with our mistakes, of being human.  We are forgetting to enjoy silliness, ignoring the charm of being a fool and are loosing ourselves in the process. We remember childhood with a romantic nostalgia because those were the days when we could be silly and yet it was ok to be so. We miss it so dearly now.Queen in its process of self liberation is a story of discovery of joy of silliness.

There are many other reasons why Queen stands out. For one, a substantial plot development happens when the protagonist is drunk in a pub and she is dancing mindlessly against an awesome remix of 'Hungama ho gaya'.  Even after couple of days of listening to this song in a loop, i still have craving for more. After the pub scene, we have both Kangana Ranaut and her friend dancing outside, in front of a middle aged man who appears busy by playing with his phone. Vikas Bahl, does not let go of this scene quickly, the scene plays on to ensure that we notice the contrast.

Then there is a scene where the Dutchmen are given a taste of Gol Gappe. (Reviewer's bias - any movies that promotes Gol Gappe has to be excellent!)  I think as a country, we may be failing to protect our natural resources and our heritage sites, but in terms of food tourism, we are doing exceptionally well. It is interesting to note that movies with woman protagonists always have some connection with food. English-Vinglish is the other one that shared the same connection. May be it is stereotyping it but it has to be commended that atleast we are breaking one stereotype with the help of another. There are several other similarities between English Vinglish and Queen, Amit Trivedi being one of them.

Queen takes a poke at many stereotypes and comes on top for most of them. The subject of sex is discussed in many forms and for the most part it works well but couple of instances it goes overboard. I was in particular annoyed with the scene in sex store where in Rani pretends to be buying sex toys as gifts for relatives thinking them to be something else. The annoyance was not that it was a sex store but it assumes Rani to be so naive; the comedy hurts the sensibilities of a viewer as well in my opinion. Perhaps, here is an instance where they went overboard with multiple sex references.  Then there is also the stereotyping of the father. In the recent neo-modern films, the Nani or Dadi are always the cool characters who just get the new age, but its the parents and in that especially the father is still shown as somebody who has not grown.  Queen shows the same orthodoxy in couple of instances, something which i was hoping that they would tackle more admirably.

At 146 minutes and that too without frivolous songs, Queen is a long film but it does not feel so. As we come close to the end, a question that comes is can Queen end while maintaing the same high bar of cinema that we have seen so far or will it just give in to the traditional way. Will it be a yet another melodramatic ending high on emotional drama.  The answer is a big no. Queen's ending is handled deftly with calm, poise and maturity as it should be. It is a kind of ending that makes the movie a namesake of its title. Queen is another leap in Bollywood movie making genre. Go watch it!

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