In 2014, the tide turned in Bollywood, so to speak. Instead of the helpless "rescued by a male saviour" heroines, Bollywood made a sincere effort to tell a story that celebrated women unabashedly, unapologetically.
For the first time, a Hindi movie completely knocked our socks off. Before Queen, a lot of what I watched in the last decade were stories about men. So naturally, I hadn't experienced what it would feel like to see my gender flouting conventional norms on the big screen, until this movie came.
Kangana Ranaut-starrer Queen celebrates female friendship and desire, and puts a woman's self-containment above finding a man. The premise is simple: After Rani gets dumped by her fiance Vijay (Rajkummar Rao) a day before their wedding, she decides to leave for her honeymoon to Paris by herself. With no previous outdoors experience, heartbroken Rani sets out alone on a life-changing, empowering journey as she tries to figure out what to do with her nebulous existence.
Though-out the film, Kangana feels so natural and real to me, like people, not some cliched female character. There's something about the way she engages in quick-witted conversation, runs nervously, sometimes happily, through the streets of Paris and Amsterdam at random, and is constantly thinking she is undesirable.
She puts up with strange but not unfriendly people around her in one apartment after another, and even as their ideas don't match, she never judges or outrightly dismisses them. And, when she finally discovers that there's nothing wrong with her, and was nothing wrong in the first place, she magically transforms a character bound for a caricature state of mind into a strong, free-spirited woman.
The film does a lot from detailing loneliness and dependence to humanising the western or as Rani calls, the "hippie", ideas and beliefs. But most of its greatness comes from the intricacies portrayed in the relationship between Kangana's Rani and Lisa Haydon's Vijay Lakshmi, who the former befriends during her time in Paris.
In Bollywood, where we are used to watching romance between a couple (man and woman), Queen shows us some other kind of love, i.e. self-love, which is not only liberating but completely fulfilling. And, I think no scene better sums up this than the film's climax, where Rani hands Vijay her engagement ring and after saying "thank you", walks away with a confident smile on her face as Amit Trivedi's composition Kinare plays in the background.