Once in a while a movie comes along like a blast of refreshing air. It’s so progressive, so piercing and so delightful that you gush on about it for hours. Queen is one such movie. Make-up-free, item-song-less and yet so seductive it could make your eyes pop out, Queen is the story of today’s girl. It’s a story of everything it takes for an Indian woman to muster her strength to build a dream and everything it then takes for her to throw it all into the dumpster the day she’s decides to get married. But it is also the story of everything it takes for her to earn it all back and learn to stand on her own two feet, alone. Most importantly, in the male-dominated, masala world of commercial Indian cinema, Queen is the tale of the brutally honest force that throbs in the heart of every woman.
Rani is getting married. She’s very excited about it. Who wouldn’t be? It’s pepping up to be one of those fat Indian Punjabi weddings we hear so much about. With a thousand questions in her head, she’s most excited about her ‘honeymoon’. She’s wanted to go to Paris and stand at the Eiffel Tower, hand-in-hand with her fiance (who would then be her husband) and she’s been saving up for it. And she’s also going to lose her virginity. Her friend teases her about it freely, when they’re alone together. Yes girls do it too.
But then he calls her and says, living abroad has changed him. Marriage is off the table. She begs him to marry her, to stay.
‘Who else will ever marry me?’ she asks but he’s adamant and he doesn’t want a ‘scene’ at the local CCD. He says he’ll call her and sends her away. But he never does.
Jilted, Rani still wants to go on her ‘honeymoon’ to Paris. She is vulnerable, innocent, naive and oblivious but it doesn’t matter. She’s a woman and she has made a decision to do something on her own
Alone in France, without knowing the language and with a broken splattering of English on her tongue, Rani manages to check into the hotel where she was supposed to stay as ‘Mr. and Mrs. Mehra’. And with a bed creaking next door with loud love noises emitting through the adjoining wall, just like that she befriends Vijay Lakshmi- a French waitress who is half Indian, who has sex with whoever she wants to and whenever, who has a son and lives alone, who dances in the streets and kisses strangers, knocks off her bras in the restrooms of pubs and then goes out there to jiggle with her friends and is entirely unabashed about it. For Rani, something like this is a first because even when she takes off her jacket and swings it into the air, she makes sure to stuff it into her over sized bag before deciding to dance.
And through flashbacks, we slowly see how her fiance had been that quintessential dominating man we often encounter- after wooing her with the cheapest, cheesiest lines, he feels like he then possesses her- you don’t need to work, why were you dancing like that in there with so many men watching, don’t you know how embarrassed it makes me.
Away from it all, these flahses come back to haunt her. She tells people, ‘my fiance left me’ but on the inside, she is starting to toughen up. She’s starting to be her own person.
Her journey then takes her to Amsterdam where the only lodgings she gets is in a room with three men. An Indian movie showing a girl sharing a room with three men and no sex? How bad-ass is that! Because these aren’t booty-hogging, lusty sexual predators. They’re just men who paint about world issues on every wall, who sing with their hearts and who put on a funny front despite their personal hardships. In the end they’re just men you can be friends with, because you can be friends and nothing more with men.
Living in the same room, Rani discovers this and more as she shares a bathroom with them- brushing their teeth together every morning in front of the mirror becomes a ritual but there are no leering glances, just plain comradeship. What would her parents say is something she dismisses from her head because she’s a modern woman.
An Italian man who inspires her to cook, a visit to a kinky sex toys store and to Amsterdam’s shadier neighborhood, a run in with a French mugger. This movie has everything that’ll make potbellied fifty-year-olds and good-for-nothing Roadside Romeos cringe at the same time.
But it’s a story about a woman- without stripping or sexy clothes or elegance. Just a story about how she’s normal. In oversized tees, on the streets, in a bar, at a rock concert. Queen is a liberation.
Kangana Ranaut is the lifeline of this film but it has a great supporting cast. A brilliant movie every Indian must see! Because no matter what we say, no matter how far we come- this movie will show you how much we’re still longing for. How much is still left unsaid and undone. And how most of it is just plain old happiness, without the need to make sex symbols out of every woman on every street corner.