Tuesday, March 25, 2014

QUEEN – The sheer charm of simplicity



When she tells her parents that she wants to go on her honeymoon  even though the wedding  has been called off, you completely understand her. Your heart goes out to her as she pleads with her fiancé to marry her while  he looks around in the coffee shop embarrassed and whispers to her " Don't make a scene, people are looking at us"  !   

After millions of movies about perfect looking, sexy girls we finally have a story about your average Indian middle class girl!  “Queen” tells us the story of   Rani,  an innocent and docile  girl from Delhi.  A student of home science, her aim like that of most Indian girls is to have an “arranged” marriage to a boy that her parents select for her. 

However life has different plans for her.  A young man falls in love with her when he meets her at her father’s sweet shop. A match that both sets of parents approve as they are family friends. He woos her, chasing her through college in typical filmi style with heart shaped balloons and sidling up to her in her college library. 

The family is all set for the wedding. Rani is very excited. She has saved money for her honeymoon. A girl who has never stepped outside of Delhi, she wants to go to Paris and Amsterdam  for her honeymoon! But just two days before the wedding, her fiancé  tells her that he is not interested in marrying her. After going to London on a job assignment he seemed to have suddenly realized that Rani does not meet his social status. She is stunned! The family is worried about how this rejection is going to affect her as she locks herself in her room refusing to come out.  

When she does come out she seems composed except that  her family is surprised when she says  that  husband or no husband,  she  wants to go on her honeymoon. She persists with this demand and finally they relent. She boards  Air France and embarks on a journey to Paris dressed in Indian street clothing and carrying unbranded luggage. 

The rest of the movie is about her journey in self discovery as she checks into a hotel in Paris, makes friends with a girl  working there, who takes her around Paris! She gets drunk, throws up, is picked up by the police for going around without  a passport, deals with a mugger all by herself  and finally bids a tearful goodbye to her Parisian friend as she boards a train to Amsterdam. 

Amsterdam brings its own set of adventures as she realizes that the  hostel  in which  her French friend had booked her in is a mixed one. She has to share a room with three men!!  After attempting to spend the night sleeping in the corridor she gives in and moves into the room occupying the top most bunk. She is as fascinated by the Russian, Japanese and the French men who share the room with her as they are with her.  Slowly the reserves melt and they become good friends.  She learns to understand them – communicating in broken English just like them!  It seems like her holiday is finally becoming a fun filled experience – that is until her fiancé starts messaging her saying he misses her. He  follows her from London and tracks her down to Amsterdam. 

And what happens after that?  Well.. I would suggest you watch the movie! 

After an overdose of the glamour that dominates the Bollywood scene these days  it was a pleasure to watch a film about real people. Each and every character in the movie is believable.  From  Rani’s grandmother who tells her to stop moping in a hotel room in Paris and explore the city ( “ Did you have to go to Paris to watch TV? Go out who knows you might meet someone interesting”) to her father and little brother who suddenly get interested in her scantily dressed French friend who shows up on skype standing behind Rani ( “ You can call me Ashwin” tells her father “ Didi where is your friend today” asks the  brother)  to her mother who is woken up by an excited Rani (who has got an offer to cook) in the middle of the night to be asked  “ What is hing called in English?” The mother replies sleepily “ Don’t know. Did you not read it on the box” ) 

Kangana Ranaout is very convincing as Rani. She has a fresh faced innocent look about her. Her innocence is natural. It is coupled with a  curiosity that is very real.  Her shyness when she admits to her Japanese friend that she has  a crush on the Italian cook who has given her a cooking assignment  is very natural. And when the Italian man wants to kiss her she asks him “  Lip to lip?” .  The way she purses up her lips behind his back as she prepares for the kiss is very funny and cute.  It brought to my mind all the talk that we girls used to indulge in when we read those Mills and Boon novels wondering what it would be like to be kissed.( Ofcourse, most  girls in India today of Rani’s age probably do not wonder about it anymore- but then she was a girl from a conservative background so it went with her character! )

The audience involvement in the movie was complete! I have never seen something like this earlier. We had people laughing loudly  at the funny parts and in the scene where she returns her engagement ring to her fiancé, the entire audience gave Rani a standing ovation. 

When I saw this movie I realized what is missing in the glitzy glamorous movies of today – that sense of reality! What was special about the movie was the way reality was packaged- in a  simple but entertaining way complete with  the usual set of songs and dances! The success of this movie is indication enough that people are getting tiered of beautiful people living in perfect homes , wearing branded clothes and romancing in the most beautiful locations.  
  
Mr. Karan Johar  are you listening … ?

5 comments:

Divya said...

I absolutely loved the movie and loved reading what you wrote about it :-)

SG said...

Thanks for the excellent review. I think I have mentioned in my previous comments that I have not watched any Hindi movie in my lifetime so far. The story of this movie and the way you narrated makes me want to see this movie. May be I will watch.

This movie struck a chord in me. The marriage was cancelled and the bride still wanted to go for her honeymoon. Lot of people will say this will never happen in real life. But truth is stranger than fiction. I know an incident that happened in California about 15 years ago. A TamBram (American born) girl got married to a TamBram (American born) guy. Something happened during the marriage and there was sambandhi sandai (quarrel between both sides). The bride’s dad is a well to do person and he had arranged for a reception in a 5 star hotel at a cost of $135,000. The groom’s parents refused to attend and also refused to send the newly married couple for the reception.

Everyone (on the groom side) was expecting the wedding reception will be cancelled and it is going to be big avamaanam (shame) for the bride’s dad and mom. You know what the bride’s parents did? They said: Heck with it. WE will celebrate our daughter’s wedding if she is physically present here or not. And the reception (cocktails, dinner, dance till 3 am) went very well. He announced the groom’s dad had a heart attack and admitted in the hospital and that is why they all (including his daughter) could not attend.

The next day, after hearing the reception was not cancelled, and it went very well, the entire groom side had a heart attack.

Meera Sundararajan said...

@ SG I strongly suggest you watch this movie. I am sure you can get a DVD with English subtitles.

@ Divya. Thanks

Cloud Nine said...

So much of hype about the movie. Will watch it for sure. From what you have written, Meera...i think Bollywood is finally growing up!

Leela Pal Chaudhuri said...

I loved it!

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