Is Queen the feminist we have forgotten?


Losing hand
In a drunken reverie Rani(Ranaut) professes how her life mirrors Gupta uncle. That uncle who never let the stench of tobacco near nor laced his lips with alcohol yet somehow succumbed to the misery of cancer. This is her. She has obeyed every rule in the book; never defied her parents; was subservient to her fiance and played a pushover to the world yet life dealt her a losing hand; Love lynched her and destiny ditched her.  Why her? And more importantly what now?

Runaway but not revolting
Rani after being dumped at the altar decides to honeymoon alone. Why does she do it? Earlier on we see how she saves every penny towards her honeymoon fund (which is visiting her most favorite cities Paris and Amsterdam). So when she is robbed of the romance why give up this treasured dream? She quietly confides to her dad that she wants to go but will not if he chooses otherwise. She does not defy yet calmly expresses her decision. For a girl who has hardly stepped out of Rajori she decides to globe-trot, alone. Only she isn’t fully prepared.

Pushing boundaries
In Paris, she hardly leaves her room. Her grandmother chides her “if you just wanted to watch the Telly, why go all the way to a different country” – a nudge here. Her epic encounter with vijaya lakshmi(vijay) shoves her further in exploring the city. She is still terrified of the Eiffel which as lovers they had declared to visit together. But she decides to hang around. She gets drunk, dances in public and almost gets arrested, all of which her fiance and his mummy would have resented. But she is having a ball by flying solo.

In Amsterdam she has yet another territory to invade. Her roommates are all men and she cannot coexist with the (unrelated)opposite sex in the same room. It’s not whether she trusts them but it’s rather that she is not(yet) strong enough to take this step. Eventually she conquers this too. She learns to befriend them, converses freely about her life and yet sticks to her boundaries.

Finally when the fiance comes begging to take him back, she doesn’t give him a speech about how she has changed etc. She reminds him pleasantly that she has other plans and they should meet in Rajori. She is buying time but remembers to pay for herself. I can take care of myself and no I don’t need a knight in a shining armor to stand beside me.  Also she wears a new outfit that she brought for herself in Paris not to swoon him but to state that she knows she is beautiful inside out.

Feminist yet fragile
Rani is elegant, gullible and sheer poetry. Her search to find her strength within the confines of her identity is the cynosure of this well crafted film. We see Rani lip locking with a foreigner but it is brief and does not lead to this-will-never-work-out sob story. Rani is a feminist in the sense that she learns to stand out, speak her mind and yet learns to be respectful. (Even when she meets her ex fiancé’s mother she pays her respects.)

Queen reinforces my belief that feminism is not only about wardrobe choices, physical and sexual freedom but about more significant aspects like attitude and identity. In the end, Rani hugs Vijay and thanks him for giving her a chance to go on this journey but I thank Rani for coming back with her core spirit intact because that is something nobody can deny or steal from you.

Girls Night out

It’s been a while since I updated my blog with my writing.
Here is a long overdue piece I wrote for Womens Web about a Girls Night out trumping over Date night anyday.

The mother, wife, daughter and sister always wins over the one that is a friend. Isn’t it important to make time for the ones that make life fun?

A decade ago, eight girls giggled and clinked their glasses filled with champagne. The drink was not chilled and the glasses were plastic cups. But there has never been a carefree and spirited moment than that. No matter how hard I think, I can’t quite recollect what we were toasting. We still had a couple of more months for graduation and we weren’t the type to toast for academics. I think we were just thrilled to have alcohol amidst us and something as sophisticated as champagne called for a celebration.

Six in person, two in thoughts and while we did not make tall claims about till death do us part, we hoped that our friendship would stand the test of time. Far from family, friends filled the void and when your college is in a desert, friends are all you have. We bunked classes, crammed wondering if we would ever use advanced calculus in real life, sang our hearts out during music nights, assigned codes for crushes and stayed awake just to dig into a plate of maggi.

We weathered the turning thirty storms and found solace in being wiser. Some of us have managed to find our better halves while still envying the vagabond state of our single friends. Some of us embarked on this adventure called motherhood and cheered each other’s sleep deprived state. Some of us are travelling so the rest of us can see the world through their eyes. But all of us are in agreement that friends like these are rare gems. In 10 years our lives are filled with babies, in laws, spouses, boyfriends, travel and work. It is sometimes exactly how we imagined it to be and sometimes not at all what we thought we would end up like. But in all this we have carved time for each other.

Gossiping and bitching is immensely therapeutic. We have learnt not to be judgmental and resort to opinions only on request. Sometimes we simply listen to the other talk. Who does that? When we get married there are friends who are civil to wish you well, then there are friends who warn you about nosy in laws and then there are those girl friends who let you know that the drive diminishes after the first couple of years. You know which ones you have to hold close.
As you turn older the chance to meet new people and form lifelong friendships are rare. It is even tougher to make time for friends who make you laugh on your dark days. Technology has made it easier to bridge the distances without having real conversations. Yet our voices manage to travel the miles and real pictures (not the ones on Facebook) confirm the cropping grey hairs. It is amazing that we still pick up the phone during birthdays and New Year’s wanting to catch up immaterial of the mail chatter.

As women, we often struggle to prioritize our roles. The mother, wife, daughter and sister always wins over the one that is a friend. But it is with friends that you can lay your soul bare. You can trust that they will pick up your pieces as they wage your wars without rhyme or reason. They will share your fun but true ones will divide your grief. Friends are healing and a reality check. A girls night out will fuel your spirit longer than a movie or a date night. This Valentine’s day drop the cliché and make sure you wish a friend, the one that tends to your heart and makes life fun.

Edited Version was published here.