Archive for Jeffery Ho

Queen

Posted in Bollywood with tags , , , , , , , on June 3, 2014 by Roshan Mathew

Looks like Tis the season for coming of age movies in my life. First Adele in the devastatingly poignant Blue is the warmest Color, then puppy eyed, hormone crazed Renato in Malena and now Rani in Queen. I was struck by the fact that these three movies, in very different languages ,from very different socio ecomnomic backgrounds , are all united by the same pathos of experiencing all the pain and joy that comes with adulthood. One of the very reasons I love watching foreign language movies is this very fact, that we are all united by our emotions and that pain and happiness transcends language and that we are all united by the human experince. Now, let me get down from my philosophical pedestal and get to the review.

Directed by Vikas Bhal , with a very heartwarming script by Vikas Bhal, Chaitally Parmar and Parveez Shaikh. Rani, (Kangana Ranaut) is a very typical, very over protected Punjabi girl. She helps run her fathers sweets shop, is escorted everywhere by her phyalman(someone who looks like a wrestler) brother and in preparation for her inevitable future as a wife, studies Home Science in college. For all non Indians yes it is a real degree from real colleges even in the 21st century!

Rani is marrying Vijay( Raj Kumar Yadav) with whom she has been in a relationship for the past couple of years.( When I say relationship I am talking about the Indian relationship, which is very chaste and innocent. Most of the time it is not really  love, but the idea of love as they envision it for themselves, which is usually modeled from the omnipresent Bollywood movie stereotypes of lovers) Then out of the blue, Vijay very matter of factly dumps Rani a day before the wedding. A devastated Rani, locks herself in her room, wanting to escape the embarrassment and sympathy of the people around her. She reflects on the start of her relationship and all the plans she had made for the future, including her honeymoon trip to Paris and Amsterdam. She asks her father to let her go for her honeymoon trip by herself. The overprotecting father reluctantlysuccumbs to her desire seeing the pain she is in. The rest of the movie s about Rani’s experiences in Paris and Amsterdam and her journey about understanding herself and realizing her self worth.  She makes some life changing friends in Paris  the exuberant, extroverted Vijayalakshmi played by the gorgeous Lisa Haydon, and  thoughful, loyal Oleksander(Mish Boyko), energetic and lovable Taka(Jeffrey Ho) and friendly Tim and the token handsome Italian Marcello(Canadea Lopez Marco) in Amsterdam.

As Rani travels, the experiences she has along the way makes her reflect on her relationship with Vijay. She sees how he was very controlling and self absorbed. We see her initial feelings of helplessness and accommodation towards Vijay give way to rage at the way she was treated by him. She didn’t even have enough self awareness or even know that she had the right to demand to be treated better, because of her upbringing and this idea of accommodation that is  forced into most Indian women. The problem with this is, how do you understand the line between accommodation and succumbing to mental or physical abuse, when that is what you are taught by your parents and the society around you?  Rani  is able to see beyond the obvious differences in skin color and culture in her new friends and is able  broaden her understanding of people and ultimately herself. What starts off as an escape from her heartbreak ends up being a journey of self discovery and introspection. The most beautiful thing about these discoveries is that she never loses sight of who she is as a person, but comes into a deeper understanding about parts of  herself she didn’t know even existed or were suppressed and gains the courage to be herself as she sees all these new acquaintances embrace her for herself.

The stand out of course is Kangana Ranaut. I knew she was a good actress, but had not gotten a chance to see much of her work. Her Rani is pitch perfect. This character could’ve gone into dumb territory before you got through the first half hour, but it is entirely to Kangana’s credit that her Rani strikes the balance between naive ,overprotected, intelligent and open hearted and not between dumb and dumber. Just like all the friends she makes on her travels, we the audience can’t help but love her. My favorite scenes are her breakup scene with Vijay, the Paris taxi driver dance  and the mugging scene. Lisa Haydon(half Malayalee BTW) as Vijaylakshmi almost walks away with the whole Paris section of the movie. She did a good job as the free-living, partying, single mother who takes Rani under her wing in Paris.  The Amsterdam crew was also perfectly cast. Other than Tim. I don’t see the point of that character being there other than to introduce the right mix of color into the group(He is French African). Raj Kumar Yada( Vijay) was another stand out in the whole movie as the love to hate, a***** who broke our Rani’s heart. Vikas Bhal, the dircetor was very good at capturing the myraid of emotions and changes that Rani goes through. Lot of time spent of character development, which was great. I wish the movie was shorter, especially the Amsterdam section could have been cut short.  Cannot understand why Indian movies have to be so long. Most of the narrative gets at least a bit compromised when you have to fill 3 hours of screen time. Case in point 24 hour news cycle!

In spite of its length you can’t help loving this simple, heartfelt, well acted, well-directed, well written lighthearted coming of age story. Parents of teenagers, this is a wonderful movie to watch with your almost adult. Some themes of sexuality, drug and alcohol use.