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Bohemian Rhapsody Review

Starring: Rami Malek

Director: Bryan Singer

Genre: Drama/ Music

Can be watched on: Hotstar

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

David Bowie said,”Freddie Mercury was a man who could hold the audience in the palm of his hand.” Here’s to the evergreen band and their songs to which generations bang their head to, and stomp their feet- the band of the misfits, for the misfits and by the misfits. Starring Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody is a biopic of Queen’s frontman, a musical maestro- Freddie Mercury. It is the story of four legends and their insane talent and passion for music. A whirligig tour through Mercury’s meteoric rise and tragic end, the first half introduces us to Farrokh Bulsara, a small-town Parsi boy from an orthodox family who struggled to fit in in his family and realised that he never will, because that wasn’t his world. His father always told him that he can’t pretend to be someone he is not. He realised very early in his life that he was always Freddie, just stuck in the body of Farrokh. Nothing exciting really happened in the life of a Graphic Design student who spent most of his spare time heaving suitcases at Heathrow Airport until one day he mesmerised the band members of “Smile” with a few lines of “Doing All Right”. This is the man who responded to his AIDS diagnosis with songs like “Who Wants to Live Forever” and “The Show Must Go On” and was quick to boast that since he was born with four extra incisors which resulted in there being extra space in his mouth, he had a greater range compared to normal singers. That was the day he had finally found his family; his misfits. And then, there was no stopping them from their meteoric rise. He soon proposed to the ‘love of his life’- Mary Austin even though subconsciously, both of them knew that something wasn’t right. An EMI executive said,”Well, that’s the kind of song teenagers can crank up the volume in their car and bang their heads to. Bohemian Rhapsody will never be that song” (Pretty sure several generations proved him wrong). Being a six minute song, a blend of many genres and not having an explanation behind its lyrics, Bohemian Rhapsody didn’t exactly have any of the odds in its favour. Mercury’s eccentric style and charismatic stage presence and the mixing up of opera, progressive rock, heavy metal, disco etc was what made Queen and their songs exceptional. Watching the band progress from one that played in shady basements and college frat parties to owning the crowd in Wembley was a surreal feeling. Ups and downs are inevitable but right from the moment when they broke the window of the producer who trash-talked Bohemian Rhapsody right until the last group hug after Freddie revealed his medical condition, Queen stuck together. Whether it was climbing the blockbuster charts or upto the highest note after infinite takes of “Galileo”, they always did it together. Freddie once said,”Being human is a condition that requires a little anaesthesia.” As their fan base proliferated, so did Freddie’s battles, the one among his own thoughts as well as the one with his bandmates. The cognitive dissonance coupled with all the substance abuse consumed him completely and drove him into the arms of his deceptive gay partner, Jim Hutton. We soon see solo Mercury in Munich, disillusioned by all the success and the cigarette smoke. However convoluted and obscure, said Jim Hutton ”Bohemian Rhapsody was Freddie as he truly was.” A baroque melange of Freddie’s existential crisis and stoic beliefs with some gibberish and vague references to various walks of life, the lyrics of Bohemian Rhapsody were never explained by the band. It was almost like he had expressed all his pain in this song like a riddle. Not only did he use this song to connect with millions but also with himself- his true self. Some people use their art as an outlet but when it came to Freddie, he found truth in his art. The coalescing of multiple genres represented his befuddled state and nebulous feelings towards both genders. It could have been a coming out song where he was confessing to his mother that he just killed a man ie the man he was always trying to be; his former image. Unfortunately, the truth lies in the grave with Freddie and these are just assumptions. A song that has around 150 vocal overdubs, Bohemian Rhapsody itself is a movie with the sudden action, suspense and plot development. It is a cliffhanger, which could have too many interpretations to ever be understood completely all by ourselves. Rami Malek perfectly impersonated the strut, his captivating stage presence, his thumping muscular movements and of course, his infamous overbite. However, he wasn’t able to encapsulate his personality completely when it came to his personal life. Ben Hardy, Brian May and Joseph Mazzello, who played the rest of the band also looked eerily similar to their real life analogues. Whether you’re a diehard Queen fan or just know Freddie Mercury as the Parsi boy who went to boarding school in Panchgini, once the music takes over, you’re definitely gonna have a good time. The end performance at Wembley is what left me teary-eyed, ecstatic and overwhelmed by the amount of hearts this band had won. This movie is not only an ode to Freddie Mercury but also about how all four of them hypnotised an entire sea of humanity and helped them forget about life for a while.

Click here to watch Queen captivate the audience at the Live Aid Concert (1985) and here to watch the trailer of this movie!

-Tanisha Agarwal

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