I always know what I feel.
I was excited when I first saw the teaser of ‘Queen’. I even texted Vikas Bahl, the director, Just saw the trailer. (Hard to miss, everyone’s going gaga over it). I wish I could write this good someday.”
I was disappointed when the release date of the movie was pushed.
Yes, I always know what I feel.
Until, I saw Queen.
I enjoyed it & I got bored. I found it refreshing & I found it cliched. I thought it took the cause of gender equity forward and then I thought it subtly reinforced gender stereotypes.
So, whenever my friends spoke about it, I just kept quiet. All of them loved it & I can see why. Three of them hated it & I got their point too.
It was when I watched this week’s episode of ‘Girls’, I found the word that I was looking for- Dissatisfied.
‘Dissatisfaction’ that’s the feeling the movie left me with.
The movie had a brilliant concept: an HMT girl going for her honeymoon alone.
The dialogues made me question my talent as a writer. “Mera sense of humor bahut achcha hai, aapko dheere dheere pata chalega”- I’ve said this so many times when someone won’t laugh at my joke. I’ve heard my friends using it. Yet, it never occurred to me to incorporate it in my work!
The nuances that the movie captured: Younger brother accompanying sister to all the dates, happens all the time. When in shaadi Kangana is dancing & Vijay walks out on her- faced that too. In fact, this scene was so organic that people had to check on me as I was sobbing real hard.
How exceptionally good & uniquely expressive Kangana & Lisa Haydon were!!!
Still I was dissatisfied & it was because of the story. If I were to write this movie, following are the things that I would’ve done differently:
1. I wouldn’t have made Vijay comeback to Rani
Can the self worth of a woman only be determined in terms of her desirability by the man? Does a girl really need to stomp over a boy’s heart to feel good about herself?
I don’t think so.
The opposite of love isn’t hatred or revenge, it is indifference. So clearly, there was no need for Vijay to comeback in the story. More redundant was Rani meeting him. The movie establishes that she had become indifferent to him. The cleavage selfie that she sends from the dressing room was clearly an accident. She even made that face. In the Youth Hostel of Amsterdam, she leaves her wedding card on the wall. So the whole comeback & the meeting looked forced. Unlike English Vinglish where the end speech (I don’t agree with the end there also) at least the speech came out lucidly. Also, as a friend of mine pointed out, “The way she ran later was so ‘Udaan’, even the music was so ‘Udaan’.”
2. The Mother-in-law scene, I would’ve kept it in the beginning. Near ‘London Thumkda’
The scene in the end, when Rani comes & returns the ring to Vijay & runs into her mother-in-law first, came as indulgence in the end. It made the story verbose, it was just not required. At the same time, it is the indulgence even I would deliberately lapse into; because when the Mother-in-law sits talks about the freedom & amazing post marriage life is bang on. Isn’t that what every Indian Mother-in-law wants a daughter-in-law for: Timepass? “Our husbands will go to work & we’ll have whole day to sit & chat. Shop & watch movies. Join my kitty.” Such an immanent scene! Such a misplaced scene. In the end, it comes across as dragging & ornamental. I would’ve placed it around ‘London Thumakda’, this would’ve made it fundamental.
When Rani is busy in her self talk, her mother-in-law breaks in & shares her plans. At that time, Rani would agree to it & look forward to it, only to realize later that how tunnel visioned she was!
3. More of self-talk
The whole opening sequence, “Mummy ne toh kaha tha change karengi, par abhi bhi salwar suit mein hain.” The ‘facebook mein picture karni hai” to “maine toh sonal ki shaadi mein kitna dance kiya tha”, gave such a realistic feel to the movie in a very refreshing way. I would’ve kept more of that. That’s a part of who Rani is- someone with a stream of self talk.
4. Less of Pre-Honeymoon scenes
Remember, how in my ‘Highway‘ post I wrote that for slow people like me, maybe Imtiaz should’ve invested more time in the part before Alia gets kidnapped; here I wish for the opposite. The whole heart break part was so elaborate & at the same time her parents agreeing to let her embark on this journey was so abrupt. The kind of over protective background that she’s shown to have how come her parents allowed her. I am come from a decent protective family and my mother throws a fit, when I go to Mc Leodganj alone.
I would’ve really cut short the pre honeymoon part & added a 30 seconder scene explaining why her parents let her go alone.
5. Easy on flashbacks
This movie taught me ‘how to use flashbacks seamlessly in a script’ just that I feel it was overdone. I would’ve gone easy with the flashbacks.
6. Connected Paris with Amsterdam
What happened in Paris, stayed in Paris. There was no connection whatsoever with the Amsterdam part. The whole Lisa Haydon’s hooker friend part was a very predictable, boring & lame attempt to connect. I can’t say that it succeeded. Paris & Amsterdam were two different & stand out alone stories, they needed a bridge. I would’ve tried to build it.
7. Made Vijay ‘likable’
From his introductory shot, Vijay is made unattractive. I want this relationship fail from the beginning not because of Rani’s self esteem issues or for her personal growth but simply because Vijay is a mouse- no face not personality! Giving a likable groom to Rani would’ve enabled me to understand her romantic inclination & empathize with her agony. She may be from a conservative family but she’s not conservative- When Lisa Haydon tells her about being a single mother, all Rani says is, “figure achcha maintain kiya hai”. She studies in a Delhi college and she’s pretty and she must surely have men wooing her. Then why, she picks someone like Vijay, who proposes to her in such a nondescript manner while having pani-puri?
I would have made Vijay lovable then Rani’s plight becomes relatable. So, when decides to move on, it’s all about personal growth and not about good riddance.
8. Rani comes across as a tourist & not as a traveler
Travel is the most important aspect of this movie. Firstly, I would’ve clearly spelled out, Rani intent for the travel- discovering herself, accepting herself & loving herself so that she’s no longer dependent on someone else for her happiness; so that she can differentiate between the need for love & being needy for love. Now that I have an objective & that I’ve chalked down the objective, the travel becomes a means to fulfill it.
I would’ve shown Rani trying to find out about Paris & Amsterdam, how one gets around in it and what things cost. She sticks to her plan of Paris & Amsterdam, I would’ve shown her exploring new places. She would’ve definitely seen Paris beyond the tourist brochure sights – the Seine, Montmartre, The Eifel Tower, the Champs-Élysées. I would’ve shown her like a sponge, soaking in everything. In the parties that she attended with Lisa Haydon, I would’ve introduced her to interesting people- locals & the back packers.
9. Wouldn’t have shown the Amsterdam boys as asexual beings
Rani also makes three guy friends in the hostel & they’re the most asexual beings I’ve ever seen. I am a girl who loves to backpack alone. I make friends from different nationalities in such trips but I have never met such asexual men. I wouldn’t have shown a romantic link up between her and the guys but clearly not formed such a chaste community. I feel that’s a dishonest portrayal of the situation.
10. Rani wouldn’t have been so dumb
The trip to sex shop is hilarious. But, Rani’s naivety is a lie. Do we really need to dumb down our protagonist to make her likable? One can easily distinguish a sex shop from a normal gift shop. The lingerie & the whips & handcuffs on the display window are a clear give away. Still, hypothetically let’s assume that Rani doesn’t get the BDSM stuff, she even can’t tell a penis shaped vibrator when she’s holding one, but how can she not see the boobie cap for what it is?! Even a five year old isn’t that daft.
Just because she’s not a ‘convent’ girl, it doesn’t mean she’s ignorant. I know small girls, they know about such stuff more than I do. And God! When the talk about it in Hindi & in their typical unabashed fashion they are damn funny- like laugh till your stomach hurts funny.
So, I would’ve written the way it would have actually happened when a girl like Rani enters such a shop. It wouldn’t have taken the comic element away. Perhaps, it would’ve added something to the plot.
11. A kiss between Lisa & Kangana
Lisa Haydon’s had such an overt sexuality. Her chemistry with Kangana was like fireworks. There were several ‘perfect moments’ & yet no drunken, I am wasted kiss initiated by Lisa!!! I can say with an authority that for a girl who has never kissed anyone, it is easier to kiss her best friend in a drunken moment than an experienced Italian Chef under the pressure of getting it right.
You know, it was already established that Rani was a virgin. When she was crying about Viay having sex before ‘Hungama Ho Gaya’ song, some uncle of her having cancer despite being a non-smoker, later she dry humps a cabbie & Lisa drags her off, that’s where I would’ve slipped the kiss.
One of my friends was going through a similar phase. On one girls night out she just refused to head home unless she (at least) loses her kiss-virginity. I would’ve simply recreated that night.
Having said all this, Kudos to Vikas Bahl for making such a lovely yet risky movie.
Despite the fear of stone pelting on me, I would’ve gone easy on songs too. I would’ve just kept ‘London Thumkda’ (guilty pleasure) & ‘Humgama Ho Gaya’ (so apt!) rest I would’ve just discarded.