I wonder how many men cringed in their seats while watching 'Queen'. I did. In the character of Vijay, the film holds up a mirror to the average male. Vijay is selfish and is insensitive and patronising towards Rani through out the film. To call the brilliant and brave performance of Rajkummar Rao (I thought I recognised this face from some other movie and it took me a considerable amount of time to realise that he is one of the heroes of the wonderful 'Kai Po Che') as one dimensional is - according to me - being indifferent to the ills of a male-centric society. For far too long the Indian male has been fed with a romanticised version on-screen in the form of Raj and Rahul while he is in reality Vijay. We were satisfied with tucking our shirts half way in; it is now time for some soul searching. To paraphrase a favorite film critic, there is a little bit of Vijay in each and every one of us. Vijay is the bachelor version of Frank Wheeler. As I walked out of the movie hall I was filled with self-loathing.
A lesser movie would have ended with a long monologue by Rani to Vijay. 'Queen' is not that movie and it doesn’t let-off the guy with a lecture on what an Olympic-class jerk he has been. Rani is not here to teach him a lesson. In fact, I even do not accept that the film is about Rani's-coming-of-age. She has gone through an experience that left her immensely sad and 'Queen' is the story of Rani's pursuit of happiness. By going on the holiday to Paris and Amsterdam, she is shaking off her sorrow. It is left to Vijay to reflect and deliberate and attempt to become a better man - if he wishes to. That doesn’t mean she has forgiven him either - as the end credits roll, I thought I saw the word 'kuttaa' against the guy's photo in her Facebook updates.
Subtlety is the hallmark of Queen – both the film and the eponymous protagonist. Consider the scene where you see a character rotating the Italian flag to resemble the Indian tricolour. The scene was crying to end with the wheel and spokes penciled into the center of the flag as our heroine celebrates her victory and the Indian flag proudly flutters in the wind. That kind of melodrama is not what this movie is going for. As I mentioned previously, the ending could have given a monologue to Kangana Ranaut. And these are just a couple of examples I have presented here. 'Queen' respects the intelligence of the audience far too much than any regular Indian film does.
I cannot remember another film that mounts as good a montage of a drunken rant as does this film. In that single scene alone, Kangana Ranaut - playing to the gallery and visibly having fun - displays a range of emotions which leaves the audiences jumping out of their seats and clapping enthusiastically. 'Queen' is one of the best movies in the recent times.
4 out of 5 Stars
PS: When you are in Paris, you cannot escape the sight of the Eiffel Tower.
PPS: There is a scene in the movie where the heroine says 'It is not about the Rock Show; it is about being with my friends.' or a translation to that effect. The scene in its own way reaffirms the fact that freedom is an illusion.