Sunday, June 15, 2014

For a New Generation

QUEEN (2014)

Produced By: Phantom Films and Viacom 18
Director: Vikas Bahl
Starring: Kangana Ranaut, Rajkummar Rao, Lisa Haydon, Mish Boyko, Jeffrey Ho and others
Pros: Fantastic acting, progressive story, good music
Cons: Superficial story, unnecessarily long
Rating: **** of 5 (4 of 5)

There were once movies like Mother India that were all about the 'real' India - the conservative India in villages. Then there were Karan Johar's films that were about Indians who were not really Indian. And in between these two themes you have Queen, a refreshing film that is both feminist and aspirational and truly embraces what this new generation, my generation, stands for. In fact, aside from some avoidable problems, the movie was exceptional in many ways.

The real queen of Queen is Kangana Ranaut, who puts up a stunning performance as Rani, a Rajouri girl who is brought up in a very conservative, Punjabi setting who goes to the least conservative corners of the earth to discover that she really matters to the world in general and to herself in particular. It is this transition from conservative, timid girl to a confident and assertive woman that Kangana pulls of so well. Indeed, for people who know her own personal story, she fits the role perfectly. And that is also the kind of story that this generation thrives on, guaranteeing it monetary success if nothing else. An added strength is the good music from Amit Trivedi, who has given us gems in Udaan and Lootera before and continues his magic here.

Now, the drawback of such a progressive story is obviously that it is rather unbelievable. A single woman sharing a room with three unknown men is going to be in danger in most parts of the world, First or Third World. And the likelihood of conservative parents letting her do that in the first place is next to zero. However, cinema is not necessarily about what is true today but about what could be true tomorrow. In that sense, this is not necessarily a reflection of the present but a window into the future. Of course, this window could have been a little smaller, running in at about 140 minutes with several avoidable parts that added very little to the story.

Overall, this was an excellent movie, not fanatically feminist but certainly a good message for women all over. The ending certainly reinforced that! (OTFS)

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