Recently, Zoya Akhter said on Koffee with Karan that the critics who review her film only tell the story and do not critique her art. I was left to wonder how does one review cinema without getting into the story. Did Zoya want critics to talk about technicalities of Direction? If she did, then she expects the reviewer to not get paid for his/her work. After all how many of us would want to read that kind of a review.
I look up reviews on News sites and entertainment blogs, usually they voice the general concensus. I do post 5 to 8 lines of review of a movie if it makes me feel either very excited or very disappointed. It is always the extreme cases that require an airing of opinions.
Over the past few weeks everywhere I look audiences are flocking the movie theatre to catch the latest Kangana Ranaut offering called Queen. The same social media space is then litered with glowing recommendation for the movie and for the actor who I like in small doses. I watched the movie a few days ago and I sat down to really try to write a review with or without the story telling. But I am no good at it. Hence, all I can truly write is my impression of the movie.
The movie is based on a very simplistic thumb of rule, if a simple, decent, sweet, subservient girl gets stood up in a relationship, she must take a trip to somewhere exotic, with or without friends and return having been transformed to a confident young woman. In the former case it is an out and out chick flick cum road trip or travel movie, showing you the sights and sound of the new country, friendship, conflict, resolution, evolving of thoughts , opinions and increased self confidence. Queen is of the later kind, where the semi independent girl flies off to a foreign land and finds friendship with oddball characters who are painted brighter than her and either bring vibrancy or sombre tones in her journey. In a foreign land with zero knowledge of the language and two bit English our girl manages to not only travel, make friends, navigate the city, even fend off an obviously hungry and sad homeless man trying to make away with her purse. She learns the ways of the world, drinking, sleeping in dorm rooms on bunk beds with other men in the room, try some hot fashion. In fact in the changing room she manages to take a selfie and shoot it off to the man who dumped her and immediately the harried fellow returns in search of her, all the while mouthing, I am sorry , I love you.
There are other interesting male characters but no romance blossoms because perhaps the story was meant to be about the transformation.Therefore, she can sell golgappas to the unsuspecting tourists and realize she is meant for a career. So, having come from India, where girls are supposedly not allowed to burp, Queen can do as she pleases but still retain her self proclaimed innocence and not to forget virginity. She can send the grovelling guy back to Delhi and wait for her while she catches up on a Rock Show. And after she lands in India she manages to return his engagement ring and walk off into the sunset.
What did not impreess me was the actor playing the lead role looking like washed up rag all through the movie. Simple women don’t look that washed up! In order to bring some degree of reality she could have had a better diction. Kangana needs help with her diction, she may have a lisp and that is off putting in a 2.5 hr movie where she barely mouths her dialogue and you are left wondering why can’t she talk normally and not in bursts. The persona she puts on is not likeable or sweet, she is a silly, idiotic woman who is sulking and petulent for most of the movie only at the end, they try and redeem her- walking away from the just dumped guy grinning foolishly at herself.
I am sorry, neither Queen nor Kangana impress me. It’s a half baked attempt at making a different movie. But this attempt belongs to the early 2000 – 2001. The time when it was still a big deal for women to travel alone, have a good time, dump a weak assed guy and get on with life. Today it is a reality for most people and Kangana just makes me feel very worried about how women are potrayed in our cinema.