Disclaimer: If you haven’t watched Queen, please go ahead and read the review. There are no spoilers. I’m not Rajeev I’ll Screw Your Film For You Masand.
In the very first shot of Queen, we see yellow and orange garlands hanging from walls, women singing and dancing, children running around, and people in such glittery attire that they could light up the Mohali Cricket Stadium.
I had seen this is in every Yashraj film I had watched since I was a sperm.
It’s nice if you begin with no expectations at all and things start looking up from there. Of late, one aspect of Hindi films that has irked me is the whole ‘establishing the premise’ that films indulge in. I mean, we are shown trailers, and we are not anteaters, and we have decided to watch the film – why not get on with it already?
Queen thankfully avoids that, taking little time to establish. Even then, it is thankfully in flashback scenes peppered through the film, providing layer after layer to peel off.
All through its length, the film is walking a tightrope.
The film is saddled with situations we have seen over the last few years. The Indian abroad facing a cultural clash has been done in countless films. The lack of English has been done in English Vinglish. And the Coming of Age has been done by Ranbir Kapoor in every film since he was a sperm.
And yet, Queen hops along merrily, reminding you of the kid on a rainy day, jumping over puddles on the road, while the grown-ups next to him hold their clothes and flock to the footpath.
I have never been a fan of Kangana Ranaut. Probably because nearly all the films I have seen her in, has her play a psychotic, disturbed character. In Woh Lamhe, Fashion, Raaz 3, Tanu Weds Manu, Gangster – she was always the shrieking, screaming, disturbed girl. Half way through Queen, I wouldn’t have been surprised if she looked up at the skies, slit her wrists, tore her shirt and ran through the streets of Paris.
Thankfully, nothing of the sort happens here. Her character shapes out beautifully, making you realise that there couldn’t have been a more apt name for her. Certainly no Anjali or Simran would do.
Kangana Ranaut has already received rave reviews for her performance, with Raja Sen proclaiming her to be the future. With a carefully etched out character, Kangana Ranaut (to use a Masand cliché) sinks her teeth into the role, making it her own.
When she cries, she goes all out. When she dances, there is no grace. There are enough unflattering, no-make up shots of her to ensure a few of those awards pop up at her house.
But the performer of the film for me was Rajkummar Rao. In a short span of two years, the guy has built up a sizeable amount of good work – and not a single role has a shred of the other. Something that’s credible in an industry where people debut with films like Moron Of The Year.
Playing a wannabe, aspirational guy who’s too consumed by himself to even appear caricaturish, Rajkummar Yadav is spot on every time he comes on screen. It’s yet another effective performance by the man, who’ll probably only be recognised by the industry when (like Naseeruddin Shah), he is 50 and has done an embarrassing item number called ‘Soye Soye’.
It’s rather sad.
Queen’s greatest achievement is that manages to hold its footing on such a dangerously slippery track. That the heroine doesn’t walk into a salon in the middle of a song and come out looking like a runway model.
That you don’t feel a large tin drum on your shoulders when you walk out the film.