Although Queen did not open well, it picked up and did a business of Rs.18 crore by the end of the first week.
The reviews of the film have been really overwhelming, and frankly I am not counting the monies. But it is doing well as the the word-of-mouth is really good. Queen is not a niche film, and is doing equally well in single screens. It’s funny, relatable and has reached out to a wide audience.
Kangana Ranaut’s character, Rani, is quite delightful, perfectly capturing the nuances of a Delhi girl. How did you get that right?
I am from Delhi. Having observed my sisters and friends, I know life for girls is planned out for them by their families. They lose their own perspective on life and they are okay with that. They are happy to be told what to do. And where Kangana was concerned she was not doing anything funny. As a writer, I had to just step back and think how a girl, whose world has come to an end, would react and behave in the situation she was in. There were a lot of inputs from Kangana too. In the scene with the French chef, it was she who suggested about the lip-to-lip kiss. Likewise the scene where she tells a stranger to click her picture in Amsterdam was suggested by her. In fact, I gave her full freedom. She knew how to maintain the fine line of her character, which otherwise would have become a caricature and fallen flat. The film could not not have been made in 45 days without her complete involvement.
The detailing was also perfect – right from Kangana’s mehndi fading gradually as the days pass, to the way she saves her bag from the roadside robber.
Getting the mehndi colour right was a real monkey business, because the film was not shot linear. We first shot in Paris and then Amsterdam, then Delhi and with some interior shots in between. I was particular about the detailing of the colour not going wrong, it was top my mind. I remember a part of it becoming dark in Paris. There’s a saying that if mehndi turns dark, the bride will be doted upon by the mother-in-law. But Rani didn’t have a mother-in-law in the picture, so I made to make sure the shade was light.
The bag snatching scene was also very genuine. I told the junior actor that he had to snatch the bag from her with all his might, and instructed Kangana that she had to hold on to it with all her might like she would in real life. They got it right even though he had to drag her on the road!
Lisa Haydon was quite impressive and spontaneous in her role of the free-spirited French Indian woman, Vijaylaksmi. So were the non-Indian actors. The film seem to get the casting right.
When I met Lisa and auditioned her, I found her to be just like the free-spirited Vijay; I wanted her to retain her natural charm and vivaciousness, and be herself. So I asked her to use her own clothes, accessories etc. in the film because giving her a costume would make her feel that she has to act. I must mention that she worked really hard, rehearsing her French every day for an entire month.
The casting of Boyko Mish (Olik) and Jeffery Ho (Taka) was also interesting. We went to London for the auditions, where I met them for a day. After that I saw the actors on the day of the shoot. Between that time I would skype and brief them their parts. In fact, I spotted Joseph Guitobh (Tim) singing on the street and asked him if he would like to be part of a Bollywood film. Joseph didn’t know a word of English, and I showed it in the scene where he shows his gang the four rock show tickets saying one-one-one-one, instead of one-two-three-four!
Do you think that the climax could have shown Rani coming into her own by showing her to be more ‘evolved’ so as to say? And what’s next?
I wouldn’t have liked to change the climax. She doesn’t make any statement, or talk about her future plans. Just happily walking away by herself was, I felt, a good way to end the film. My next film is with Shahid Kapoor, which talks about destination weddings. It should take off in the middle of this year, till then I am just chilling!