I have never been a fan of Kangana Ranaut: be it her movies or her portrayal of deranged characters, her accent, her interviews or the publicity surrounding her personal life. And then I watched Queen. I have been a bit skeptical of all the women-centric movies releasing on the occasion of Women’s Day, and while Gulab Gang was a big disappointment, I didn’t exactly have high hopes from Queen either. But I was pleasantly surprised: surprised by the script, surprised by the very non-Bollywood climax and most of all, surprised by Kangana Ranaut!
The last few years have been refreshing for Bollywood which saw quite a few mainstream films which were completely dominated by the female lead: No One Killed Jessica, The Dirty Picture, Kahaani, English Vinglish, to name a few. While Vidya Balan has been the poster girl for the new-age, unconventional heroine, it’s good to see that even younger actresses who were so far restricted to playing arm candy to forty-plus actors are now stepping up to the challenge of carrying the entire movie on their petite shoulders.
Having said that, Queen is NOT about the smart, sassy, confident and independent urban Indian woman, but very much about the conventional, conservative and small-town Indian girl most of us can identify with. There is a Rani in each of us: scared, diffident, over-protected and sheltered through most of our lives. We have all been brought up on the strong middle class values of honesty, sincerity, and respect for elders, along with a generous dose of bad humour in the form of Santa-Banta jokes. And we have all been conditioned to a particular social structure in which we live with our loving family, complete our education and then move on to the domestic bliss of marriage, husband and babies. We don’t question it and some of us even like it.
Now before the feminists gag me and flog me to death, let me hasten to add that many of us choose to compete in the labour market, many of us hold on to our jobs and many of us derive as much satisfaction from our careers as we do from our personal lives. But Queen is not about them.
It’s more about girls like me: girls who are defined by their relationships, their families and the people around them. It’s about women who plan their lives around the people they love, without caring too much about their own, women who would do everything to make their relationships work and women who put their husbands/boyfriends ahead of themselves, their careers or their own lives.
But then things don’t work out, hearts are broken and circumstances force them to take control of their own lives, be a little more selfish and live for themselves. Freedom is thrust upon them, even if they are not actively seeking it and the world automatically opens up to them, even if they are really looking for closure.
And surprisingly, they end up making a success of it: personally, professionally and socially.
And then they have enough courtesy to take a quick trip to the past, thank the person who really did them a huge favour by breaking their heart and embark upon a new journey.
A new journey, where she is the Dancing Queen and where she doesn’t need a Prince Charming to lead…