While Queen is a simple story about finding oneself, Highway is practically a “let’s do it as it comes” story of finding oneself.
Queen’s story is predictable, but there is an inherent honesty to it. Rani (Kangana), after being ditched by her to-be husband a day before the wedding, goes on her scheduled honeymoon and discovers herself with the help of some friends she makes along the way. While there is nothing too amazing about the story, it’s the simplicity and the little moments created by Vikas Bahl, that make it worthwhile.
Highway is deliberately meandering and complicated. Veera (Alia) is kidnapped by Hooda and they keep going from one place to the other, pointlessly. The protagonist justifies this by repeatedly saying things like “I don’t know why I am laughing. I don’t know why I like this. I don’t know why I didn’t run away. I don’t know why, but I don’t want this journey to end.” Imtiaz takes an Imtihaan of your patience and you start wondering why this film was made.
Queen has a bunch of refreshing songs by Amit Trivedi. Be it the uplifting feel of Kinaare or the thumkedaar London Thumkda, Trivedi is in top form. The songs compliment the film beautifully.
Highway’s music, on the other hand, feels like another A.R.Rehman recycle job. Though Rehman provides a beautiful background score, only Patakha Guddi meets the mark.
Queen is powered by the unpredictable Kangana. Though she struggles in the first couple of scenes (especially the Coffee Shop breakup scene), her performance keeps getting stronger as the movie progresses. Ofcourse, it is not necessarily the order in which they shot, but it just seems that she comes into her own in the foreign sequences. Maybe we get used to her gradually. Be it her well-mannered behavior with everyone or her unabashedly awkward dance in the night club, Kangana is spectacular. Rajkumar Rao is solid in his smallish role, but the others are just about ok. You are actually so enamored by the sweet little film, that you ignore stuff like the terrible acting of Lisa Haydon and company.
Highway has overall a much better ensemble cast. Everyone in this film plays his/her part decently well. The big surprise comes in the form of Alia Bhatt, who displays quiet a wide range of emotions; far from the bimbo she was made out to be in “Student of the Year”. Imtiaz tests her with several long shots that are focused just on her face and Alia comes up trumps most of the times. She seems like a natural, hope she keeps up the good work. Randeep seems to be in familiar zone and displays angst really well. In the absence of a script, Imtiaz depend heavily on Alia and Randeep, and they don’t disappoint.
While Vikas Bahl seems to have quite a competent team at his disposal, Imtiaz seems to have the masters. Queen’s cinematography is good but Highway’s is just spectacular. Anil Mehta captures India in all its glory and captivates you along the way. Even the editing, production value of Highway just feel a bit better. As a finished product Highway is top notch, but as a film Queen wins hands down. The sum of the parts in Queen is much more than the whole.
Highway is Imtiaz’s keeda. It’s that experiment you do as a director when you want to go to international awards. What Imtiaz forgets is most good films have a good script and his film uses the “Stockholm Syndrome” so poorly that it is rather embarrassing. It’s also extremely frustrating to sit through a film that you know is pieced together on the editing table rather than the writer’s desk. While it is essentially an exercise in pointlessness, you do appreciate some of the finer aspects of film-making along the way.
Queen on the other hand is a simple script, made with good intentions and an overall sincere effort. It does not go over-board either in grief or in comedy. There is neither any melodrama when the wedding is called off nor any browbeating when the protagonist gains her confidence. Everything is measured and the after taste is sweet. The dialogues are fun and the movie is peppered with some deliciously good scenes. No matter how hard you try to be objective, you do leave the theater with a grin.
So yeah, if you had to choose between the two, leave the road and go for Royalty.
Highway: 4.5/10 | Queen: 6.5/10