Actress: Kangana Ranaut, Lisa Haydon
Release Date: 7th March, 2014
Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Raj Kumar Yadav, Lisa Haydon
Director: Vikas Bahl
Writer/s: Vikas Bahl, Parvez Sheikh
Plot: Queen is an unusual story of a Delhi girl, Rani, who is all set to be married, but somehow ends up going for her honeymoon to Amsterdam and Paris all by herself.
The girl who’s never left her house alone now goes to Paris and Amsterdam on her own. What follows is a fun, quirky journey of Rani who discovers herself, while exploring the unknown.
Ramya Krishnan starrer Queen begins with a disclaimer that the series is a fictional account and any resemblance is coincidental. In this case, the comparisons and references make no sense, but can they be completely ignored? Be the judge. Directed by Goutham Menon and Prasath Murugesan, Queen is a fascinating story about one of the most powerful ladies but a victim of its slow pace and scattered screenplay.
What Is Queen About?
A sort of coming of age drama, Queen, based on Anita Sivakumaran’s book by the same name is a fictional (according to the makers) account of a rage called Shakti Sheshadri. The series travels from the time Shakti was 15 till she got into her late 30’s telling us the milestones events that shaped the rage that she is.
It gets into her life and shows how a brilliant state topper was forced to act in the films, how she became a superstar and what led to her becoming one of the most powerful lady politician this country had ever seen. Deja vu?
The series begins with a successful politician and CM of Tamil Nadu Shakti Sheshadri sitting in an interview with a leading talk show host played by Lillete Dubey and talking about her life candidly. Well, if you make a quick YouTube search for Jayalalithaa’s interview by Simi Garewal, you might stumble upon this scene and much more that this series talks about, I am just saying. The makers take this documented account carefully and twist it in a way that it works in the favour of the series. The episode of the chat show forms the base where Shakti tells her story.
The best thing to happen to this show is actress Ramya Krishnan, the actress enters the script like it’s her territory and claims it like a boss. The balanced emotions and eyes that speak volumes are enough to tell you the calibre that she endorses.
Special mention to Anika Surendran and Anjana Jayaprakash who play the teenage and young Shakti respectively. The actresses have understood the power that Shakti stands for and they deliver that.
Though the writing is lazy (about that later), the sequence when Shakti (Anjana) falls for a Telugu film director Chaitanya Reddy (Vamsi Krishna) is the best out of all. Yes, the romance is clichéd but the actors pull it off in an impressive manner.
The show also renders into the times when Shakti meets her first love GMR (we need a quick search here too) and shows how problematic yet important their relationship was and it was brave of the makers.
Though I have my complaints with the camera department, background score by Darbuka Siva is commendable.
What Doesn’t Work:
Let’s talk about the lazy writing now. We know the series is inspired by a real-life story and almost every character that enters the narrative is somewhere identifiable. Writer Reshma Gathala takes this liberty and don’t define the characters apart from Shakti much. They assume that the viewer knows who it is. Did they forget it is a ‘fictional’ account?
That brings in the spotlight the scattered and lose screenplay and dialogues. While the screenplay is confused about what it wants to focus on, the dialogues seem to be written by an intern with 2 months experience in rush to get the work done. They are not impactful or complimenting the powerful emotions that Ramya evokes with her acting.
Queen also lacks in good camera work. While we are watching cinematography marvels like Super Deluxe and Kumbalangi Nights coming out of South diaspora, the cinematography in Queen seems to be a film school project.
Also, Ramya enters the narrative as a full-fledge character very late. Till this point, the audience might lose their attention.
The story is fascinating, inspiring, moving, but the representation of it is not. Though the series has actors that define the talent with their amazing acting skills but the surrounding doesn’t support them like it should.
Watch if you are a Ramya or a Jayalalithaa fan. Watch her sing Aja Saman Madhur Chandni Me Hum (which the original Jayalalithaa also sung on Garewal’s show) and fall in love with the magnum character this stalwart lady was.
Rating: 2 stars
Rating: 4/5 Stars (Four stars)
Star cast: Kangana Ranaut, Rajkummar Rao, Lisa Haydon
Director: Vikas Bahl
What’s Good: The story remains simple and serene and yet transforms into something so cataclysmic with few words and zero melodrama.
What’s Bad: Zero screenplay. The film is beaded up of its moments and thus in its slack spells, it droops really dull.
Loo break: Hold on. This is worth giving the loo a miss.
Watch or Not?: Have you ever watched a film that has you smile all through its run time, even when a silent tear drops down your face? Queen does that for me. Vikas Bahl eloquently traps the gradual transformation of Rani’s middle class terminology into a self assured laconic ‘thank you’. It could have been very forgettable and limp but Kangana’s poise pulls through the film marvellously. Queen is a winner and does it all in a regal style almost to give most film lovers a cinematic orgasm of sorts. Savor this one!
Rani (Kangana Ranaut) is a young Delhi girl who is the brink of getting married in 3 days. The movie opens with her mehendi ceremony following which her London returned fiance Vijay (Rajkumar Rao) calls off the wedding. Initially dumbfounded and heartbroken, Rani goes on her pre-booked honeymoon to Paris and Amsterdam, all by herself. Initially out of place and puzzled, Rani begins a journey towards self discovery and eventual self confidence that years of being under restrained atmosphere had eroded. Her wild escapades to happy memories to newer learnings, join in Rani’s journey towards finding absolute, undiluted and independent happiness.
Queen Review: Script Analysis
There isn’t much of a script in terms of storyline. If Mahesh Bhatt’s Arth wasn’t as hittingly structured, it would have been Queen. By that I don’t mean to downplay either, but merely cite differences in terms of storytelling. While Bhatt had involved himself in a social commentary.of the chauvinistic realm of thinking, Bahl maintains his focus at the self evolution of a person who has a beaten self confidence, abandoned a day before the wedding by his long time fiance. She has ingrained in her the standard middle class sensibilities that she has been socialized to believe are the norm unquestioningly. She is no rebel and has no qualms about not being one. And yet when she suffers from a seething heartbreak, she goes alone on her pre-booked honeymoon. It might sound implausible to most, but perhaps that’s what Bahl is intending to convey. Our Indian mindset is instrumental in making us fall in the idea of love more than the object of affection. And it is a perennial problem that Queen subtly brings out. Rani is so much in love with the idea of her honeymoon that she embarks on it alone even when the girl can barely cross a road alone.
The story opens with a wedding ceremony and an adorable bride you’ll take an instant liking to. There is an immense delight factor in how the script is written. It is relatively plain and without the superfluous airs (read melodrama) you would expect. Just as you begin to pity her, the story ups itself for the better losing itself in the bylanes of Paris and Amsterdam , with Kangana’s rolling eyes doing more of the talking than her. The girl’s childlike innocence is hard to miss as there is more of care than judgement in the way she advises her new found friend about not indulging in casual sex or as she compliments a stripper on how well she dances. Even the silent dinner she eats all by herself, with the eye popping out, off the fish, is metaphorical in its tone.
But the entrancing moments are when Kangana vents herself out after bearing through a hard night, under the spell of alcohol. The intoxication makes her bold and she manages to exhibit more hues of her real self than her silently restrained atmosphere back home had allowed her in her entire life. It is from that wild beginning that Rani begins her journey towards self analysis and eventual learning. I am glad the writers did not dilute the story with a sappy and predictable romance angle and kept it sweet in just the correct measure.
And ofcourse, when it comes to how the story ends, I don’t think there could have been a more befitting climax written for a film of this expression. Rani attains an eventual carte blanch of sorts and yet is it less emphatic and more reinvigorating to see the final canter.
Queen Review: Star Performances
Kangana Ranaut delivers a performance that marks her lightyears ahead of any of her contemporaries. She conveys most through her pitch-perfect body language. The surprises and the shocks, the ecstasy and the confidence is all brought out by her non verbal mannerisms. It boasts of quite a caliber when an actor says more by her silence than by her dialogues. And even in her dialogues she gets the right tonality for it all. ‘Queen‘ might be the birth of a legend and thank God for that!
Lisa Hayden is breathtakingly gorgeous and just as good an actor expressing with a natural flair all that she has been entrusted with.
The other actors are all superbly cast and they all play a significant role in making the film’s intensity as well as the look and feel elevate.
Queen Review: Direction, Editing and Screenplay
Words will fall short if you have to praise Vikas Bahl’s work here. If Kangana was exemplary, a large part of the success of it can be attributed to Bahl. He had done the detailing of the film with a hawk like precision. I won’t be surprised if the director had already painted in his head the image of how he will pursue every scene and every slide in the film. The technical work is rehearsed and Kangana gets her gusty impromptu nature to keep it all refreshing. The film’s pace is slow and yet not dull. And despite following a non linear track of storytelling, basing the film solely on its vivacious moments, Bahl risks not following the easier route out here and yet makes this work magically. In many aspects Queen is a director’s product.
The one memorable scene that I will quote for a long time now is when Kangana’s roomates play her mehendi’s ‘London Thumakda‘ video and her face drops down. Her friends understand her pain and yet when she looks up an energetic Taka is trying to cheer her up. Taka is a survivor of the Tsunami that wiped out his entire life. In that one moment, Kangana’s look changed perhaps with the feeling that her pain is nothing compared to his.
For multiple such scenes, the film is brilliant. Amit Trivedi’s unmatchable music is as much a part of the story as Kangana highlighting her moods rightly. Though I wish the editing was tauter but the film still scores by achieving all it had intended to and perhaps much more.
Queen Review: The Last Word
‘Queen‘ is easily one of the most accomplished films made in a long time. The skillful direction of Vikas and Kangana’s easy virtuoso makes this one an indulgent affair. For the constant smile that it left on my face, the hiccups were all forgettable. I am going with 4/5 and recommend you don’t it for the world. Scores above Bravura!
Queen releases on 7th March, 2014.
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