Note: This is from the movie Queen.
Bangles when they tinker sound sweet and subtle. Even with a slight change of position of their owners hand they whisper their presence. For some it signals the ladies commitment to virtuosity, for others there is a romance and invitation in those tinkering tunes. During childhood I remember an aunty breaking her bangles on the deathbed of her husband just like in the old movies. There was a message attached to it. There is also a message attached when bangles are shown to men like it happened in Lucknow where women showed bangles to the Chief Minister in protest of increasing incidences of rapes in the state. Whatever the situation, their glittering presence adds to the beauty of the hands that adorn them.
Kangna Ranaut in Queen gives a performance quite similar to the properties of her first name. She does not restrict herself to the limited range of feminine constructs which we get to see in mainstream Bollywood movies. She is not throwing paint on the whitewashed walls or her boyfriend’s face, nor pillion riding on her lover’s bike. Neither is she spraying water on him with a pipe or savouring an ice-cream together as if it was the last one of their life. Not that these images that we get to watch in mainstream Bollywood movies are not effective, it’s just that for the younger generation who are also taking lessons, they raise the bar
“Kahan milti hain aisi ladkiyan jo pipe ke paani se bhigone se pat jati hain? Mushkil hai bhai”
Rani is a girl whom we have met before, who looks real and displays a range of emotions in the movie which are worth recollecting. In fact I found a lot of expressions in the movie worth remembering.
The one that strikes immediately at the start of the movie is with her mother in slow motion as the song ‘London Thumakda’ progresses. Her mother is smiling only slightly but her face beams of the joy she feels for her daughter getting married. Rani while talking to herself about Vijay, Sonal and Chintu, the decoration of her father’s mithai shop and her first night gives an expression of someone deeply immersed in her thoughts but also aware of the surroundings like an iceberg 90% below the surface.
I am sure that acting innocence on screen would be a really difficult task for actors as compared to showing off their legs or muscles or even crying which can be artificially achieved. Innocence cannot be practiced in a gym or bought in a fancy market or achieved through VFX. It must come from the actor’s feelings and experience and infact their real life activities would curb their innocence if anything. A young actress can easily fall into a comic trap because one the ladies are really touchy about innocence and second the men are very itchy. Ladies immediate reaction would be to find loopholes as it concerns something directly in their inner territory of emotions whereas men would immediately remember the bitter experiences of the faults or misgivings they had committed for someone that innocent. Hence to pass off innocence through the audience supervision is a herculean task and I feel that Kangna does that very well.
That troublesome tone and pleading expression when she asks “Kya hua nervous ho gaye aap?” in the restaurant or the irked expression when Vijay gives her the invitation for Samosa while she is baking cake were new to me on screen. Also the extra innocent tipped directions to her college during their first meeting would have immediately aroused a reaction of ‘is umr mein itni bholi ban rahi hai” But it didn’t and infact I heard the audience indulgently laughing at it in the theatre.
The real treasure is when she goes to Europe. It’s like a regression equation which has few dependent variables in Rajouri but suddenly finds newer and better ones in Europe. The irked expression is there while explaining the address unsuccessfully to the taxi driver. But a new one erupts when the hotel manager confirms the reservation in the name of Mr. and Mrs Dhingra. And the new one has fluttering of her eyes. Rani says a lot in the movie through her eyes. Like the understated surprise when she encounters Vijaylakshmi for the first time in her balcony in not so traditional attire is conveyed through the surprise in her eyes.
The daru scene is like a gift of hues. Black when she cries about her loss and the vacuum created in her life, Red when she instructs Vijaylakshmi ‘sudhar jao varna aisa phasoge’, Silver when she informs that Vijay was called conductor and Rani behenji by their mutual friends, White as she prides on the fact that ‘meine aajtak sabki baat maani hai’, Grey when Gupta Uncle has cancer even though he has never smoked or drunk in his life and she shies ‘Is se achcha to pee hi lete.”
Rani’s dance on the Bollywood number is starkly different from everybody else on screen. Her facial expression and throw of hands makes one feel that she is facing an invisible wrestler as an opponent. Later she stalks the man near the cab, an indication of fearlessness she has achieved after drinking. Immediately after that while she stands out of the car, her face signifies eternal peace. In that natural state a slightly bovine tone comes up “Tum log Dakar peete ho.”
There are times in the movie when she says a word or line to herself as if reminding her memory to take a note. Like ‘lip to lip kiss’ when Vijay Lakshmi is with her boyfriend, ‘sab dar gaye’ as the four room partners sit on the upper bed scared of the lizard, ‘maazak’ as she realises that Vijaylakshmi is lying to her about her papa’s arrival in Paris. There are others as well and they sounded cute.
There are so many scenes to write about. But just mentioning them here would make me a freerider. Still I take that pleasure and go on. The childish question on ‘Chinese Khana’ when Vijay says he will take her to Eiffel tower, the self-congratulatory ‘mera sense of humour bada achcha hai’, the self-assurance with which she answers the questions posed by her friends in the sex shop, the chuckle as she confesses her crush for the restaurant owner and Salman Khan. Rani in Amsterdam is not the same as in Rajouri or Paris. There is a gradual removal of gloom and submissiveness on her face and in the end the confidence and glow as she hands over the ring to Vijay is pretty evident.
She is many women in a woman, something which sounds illogical but is true for most of the women I guess. Kangna Ranaut has brought this variety on screen in an original fashion. No copied Hollywood style or deliberate and unsuitable exaggeration of expressions as far as my understanding goes. My friends of Delhi swear to the fact that she plays a proper Delhi girl. There is a charm in watching originality on screen . And from my limited experience of films, I think Kangna gives a charming original performance. Maybe it would be apt to replace Santa Banta with Rani in her lines “Santa Banta bahut famous hain. Santa Banta Indian hi hain.”