“Rani” (Kangana Ranaut, “Queen”) a traditional, submissive Indian girl is dumped by her fiancé, “Vijay” ( Rajkummar Rao) a feckless cad, resembling a chipmunk, two days before the wedding; sheltered, naive, she nonetheless decides to go on her honeymoon to Paris and Amsterdam, alone. What transpires is a joyous journey of self-discovery; shedding archaic taboos; accepting and understanding cultural differences; stripping away layers of society’s dictates and adopting “to thine own self be true” as her mantra. Kangana Ranaut is a marvel in the role; subtlety prevails as she is freed from the pain and stigma of dismissal; gradually she overcomes her fears and ventures into the alluring attractions of Paris and Amsterdam.
Director Vikas Bahl was prescient in casting of Ranaut as Rani; she does not fall into the category of the classic Bollywood beauty (Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif, Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan) ); instead she is more accessible, easier for women to relate to, identify with; her loveliness evolves as she imbibes in a life of independence; dancing with the spirited, frenetic abandonment of a Sufi; fending off a mugger; she dazzles with her development.
In Paris, Rani meets a remarkable forward –thinking, single mother, “Vikaylakshmi” ( magnificent Lisa Haydon, with legs as long as the day and a face reminiscent of Angelina Jolie ); fracturing her glum facade, introducing her to the seamy and beautiful venues of Paris; their friendship anchors the film; “Queen” sputters when Rani departs the city of enlightenment.
Rani has three male roommates in an Amsterdam youth hostel: French, Japanese, Russian; momentarily sinks to formulaic stereotyping but redeems itself humorously as their relationship deepens.
“Queen” is abundantly refreshing; skirts “Bollywood’s” saccharine clichés and serves up a delectable, realistic and immensely satiating concoction.
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!