Saturday, March 08, 2014


Springtime in Paris

Vikas Bahl’s Queen is a very enjoyable chick flick and that’s a compliment. Because women are likely to come out of the film still rooting for the lead character, and perhaps, feeling good about themselves.

The ordinary Delhi girl with a commonplace name like Rani transforms herself into Queen, by just being herself—the good Indian who obeys her parents and never does anything wrong. She is slightly dazed when a smart engineer woos and decides to marry her. But Vijay (Rajkummar Rao), callously dumps her a day before the wedding, because he thinks his London trip has made him superior to her.

For a girl from Rajouri this can be a severe trauma, but after Rani has wept her eyes out, she decides to go on her honeymoon alone. She has never gone anywhere without her kid brother as chaperone, so she and her parents are understandably nervous, but it’s her grandmother who gives her courage.

In Paris—and this is a script convenience—she meets the half Indian, “hippie type”  Vijaylaxmi (a luminous Lisa Haydon), who takes Rani under her wing and shows her a good time.  Rani retains her innocence even when she is going through a life-changing experience, and video chats with her family “ten times a day.” (She is connected on the net, yet calls up her mother late at night to ask the English word for hing. She could have looked it up... but it makes an amusing scene.)

Then she goes on to Amsterdam, where, much to her shock she is expected to share a room with three men—one Russian, one Japanese and one black.  Now the film takes on an English Vinglish feel, and starts to get too cloying as Rani turns the three into family and has a crush on a dishy Italian chef, who is floored by her gol gappa making skills.

What’s utterly charming about the film is that apart from one mugging incident, Rani floats through a remarkably safe and kind world; even in the notorious red light district of Amsterdam she meets a hard-working Urdu-speaking hooker. She has a romance with herself, and you hope when she returns to Delhi—changed but still the same—she will be able to resist the ‘desperate housewife’ fate of her friends. This one really needs a sequel!

Kangana Ranaut (also credited with additional dialogue) acts with a fresh-faced sweetness that is almost like a debut. For an actress in MCP-ish Bollywood to get a part in which she is not propped up by a hero is a small miracle—for Rani, the film deserves to be a hit.


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