Saturday, March 8, 2014

She is the perfect Queen

A middle-class, rajput girl from small-town Mandi (Himachal Pradesh), unconnected to film royalty and full of talent and blessed with her choice of films. Best wishes to Kangana Ranaut and Queen. The reviewers have been uniformly kind and this Vikas Bahl film is well on its way to be a "woman film hit." Bravo.

Ranaut has been charming us with her off-screen behaviour and, her National Award-winning role in Fashion notwithstanding, Queen is the first time she's got a script that really allows her to confirm she's more than a pretty face. There's no high fashion or flattering make-up to flaunt Ranaut's physical beauty in Queen, but this is a role that allows Ranaut to showcase not just her acting talents but also her wit because Ranaut is credited with contributing additional dialogues to the film. Ranaut as Rani is pitch perfect. She brings out the sweetness, the hurt, the belligerence and the head-screwed-tightly-on-her-shoulders sensibility that is the pride of the Indian middle class. The cherry on this acting cake is that this lady's got superb comic timing. Helping Ranaut along is a wonderful supporting cast, particularly Lisa Haydon as the half-Indian Vijaylakshmi and Rajkummar Rao who has the special gift of not acting roles but becoming them, and he does this again as Vijay. Haydon does an impressive job with the French accent. The real star of Queen, however, is writer-director Vikas Bahl. Bahl is able to draw out fantastic, spontaneous performances from all his actors, lead and supporting, Indian and foreign. It's such a refreshing change to see minor roles played by non-Indian actors being done credibly.

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/bollywood/queen-review-kangana-ranaut-is-pitch-perfect-in-a-fabulous-film-1423165.html?utm_source=fpstory_alsosee
The story begins in a middle class Punjabi household in Rajouri Garden in Delhi, where Rani is about to be married off to her boyfriend, Vijay (Rajkummar Rao). Amidst electricity cuts, dance practice, last minute decorations and overworked parents, we see Rani sitting and getting henna put on her hands as her mind races with questions about her future and her “wedding night”. Her London-returned fiancé, however, has completely different plans. Vijay meets Rani at a coffee shop a day before their wedding, to dump her. Grief stricken and depressed, Rani decides to go on the couple’s pre-booked honeymoon to Paris and Amsterdam, alone. (Does she do it because she wants to experience life abroad just as Vijay did? Or is it because she had been saving up for this trip since she was a kid?) Bahl handles Rani’s awkwardness and her eventual transformation beautifully. From a confused and under-confident mouse, Rani slowly turns into someone who learns to look within and not around for answers. In one scene at a dance club, we see her change physically — finally letting go of her fiance’s admonishments about dancing in public, teaching the entire crowd a Bollywood step or two, and literally letting her hair down. Such moments are where Queen really scores. Rani not being able to cross the road in Paris for hours; her wanting to clutch a random stranger’s hand as she roams around the city alone; her drunk conversations with random strangers about how terrible her life is; her joking about how girls aren’t even allowed to burp in India; her silences and gentle nervous twitches as she navigates her way in a new city — all of these make Queen far, far more nuanced than any ‘woman centric’ film that's released of late.

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/bollywood/queen-review-kangana-ranauts-joyride-on-a-ladies-special-1424723.html?utm_source=hp-footer

The story begins in a middle class Punjabi household in Rajouri Garden in Delhi, where Rani is about to be married off to her boyfriend, Vijay (Rajkummar Rao). Amidst electricity cuts, dance practice, last minute decorations and overworked parents, we see Rani sitting and getting henna put on her hands as her mind races with questions about her future and her “wedding night”. Her London-returned fiancé, however, has completely different plans. Vijay meets Rani at a coffee shop a day before their wedding, to dump her. Grief stricken and depressed, Rani decides to go on the couple’s pre-booked honeymoon to Paris and Amsterdam, alone. (Does she do it because she wants to experience life abroad just as Vijay did? Or is it because she had been saving up for this trip since she was a kid?) Bahl handles Rani’s awkwardness and her eventual transformation beautifully. From a confused and under-confident mouse, Rani slowly turns into someone who learns to look within and not around for answers. In one scene at a dance club, we see her change physically — finally letting go of her fiance’s admonishments about dancing in public, teaching the entire crowd a Bollywood step or two, and literally letting her hair down. Such moments are where Queen really scores. Rani not being able to cross the road in Paris for hours; her wanting to clutch a random stranger’s hand as she roams around the city alone; her drunk conversations with random strangers about how terrible her life is; her joking about how girls aren’t even allowed to burp in India; her silences and gentle nervous twitches as she navigates her way in a new city — all of these make Queen far, far more nuanced than any ‘woman centric’ film that's released of late.

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/bollywood/queen-review-kangana-ranauts-joyride-on-a-ladies-special-1424723.html?utm_source=hp-footer
It starts with a loud Punjabi wedding, and you enter the film, mildly diverted by Rani’s loud Punjabi family, doing ‘giddha-shiddha’, ‘mehendi-shendi’, but not before you’ve had time to register that the Rajouri Garden ‘mithai’-shop-owning middle-class-ness of the Mehras is just right. And that Mummyji, Daddyji, the plump ‘chota bhai’, and Dadiji are all pitch perfect.

Rani (Kangana Ranaut) is dumped just a day before her wedding by her fiance Vijay (Rajkumar Rao). Devastated, she decides to flee, because staying home to lick her wounds is not an option. So, she finds herself in Paris, and the journey she embarks on makes ‘Queen’ the kind of coming- of-age, discovery-of-self tale....She does make silly touristy mistakes, nearly gets mugged but doesn’t let it get to her, and discovers she has a spine after all. Lucking into a long-legged hotel maid Vijay Lakshmi (Lisa Haydon) is the first departure from standard Bollywood practice: this other Vijay takes Rani under her wing, drags her into a store with lovely Parisian clothes (these Paris maids are not just drop dead sexy, and enjoy their libido, they can afford all those designer threads?), and generally hand-holds Rani for an enjoyable spell.

(Vikas) Bahl’s second directorial venture is a delight: his first, ‘Chillar Party’, had some spark, but nothing prepared me for this. The story, which could easily have slipped into mush, stays free of drippy sentimentality, barring one or two raised-violin scenes....Kangana Ranaut revels in her solidly-written role, and delivers a first rate, heart-felt performance.

regards