Rani Mahal: Indian version of Game of Thrones? Here's what to expect

There will probably be long speeches about the power of motherly love, the importance of family, and how one should always listen to one's parents.

 |  3-minute read |   27-03-2015
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Warring families, a heartless world, sex, lies and intrigue - it's a killer combination, and when you introduce dragons and the occasional smoke baby into the mix, you can understand why the world has gone crazy over Game of Thrones. And evidently Indian TV producers aren't far behind.

The news that Sony is making a series called Rani Mahal, based on the many-times-nominated show, has inspired a lot of hilarity on social media. They've only compounded this by going ahead and casting Sakshi Tanwar in the role that will supposedly resemble that of Daenerys Targaryen, fan favourite and deliverer of epic lines. Oh, and she also happens to be the "mother" of three dragons.

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At least we know Tanwar will get that "mothering" aspect right. She has proven herself a formidable familial force in Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki after all. Clarke's Dany is going to look like a bumbling young thing next to this experienced, been-there-done-that desh ki bahu (or is that Smriti Irani? I get them mixed up). Tanwar's Parvati has held a crumbling family together in a big, big house - taming three dragons is going to be no problem for her.

I can see Rani Mahal's costumes being as splendid and rich, if not more so, than its American counterpart's. And imagine the potential this storyline offers for prolonged zoom-ins, dramatic music and shocked glances? There will probably be long speeches about the power of motherly love (whoever they cast as Catelyn Stark is going to have a field day!), the importance of family and how one should always listen to one's parents. Sansa is going to be touted as the best example of why girls should not be friends with boys and Robb will prove that love marriages - especially those with people not from your community - will get you nowhere.

It's a little alarming how easy it is to draw good old, mainstream, conservative morals from a show that's not exactly conservative in itself. And speaking of that, Game of Thrones has come under a fair bit of fire for "gratuitous nudity" and undue stress on sexual acts - both consensual and non. Will Rani Mahal follow in its footsteps and grace Indian screens with incest, alternative-lifestyle supporting princes and love children galore? Will it blaze a trail that will allow channels like Star World and Zee Café to unmute themselves, and let characters say "sex" and "breasts" and "intercourse" on screen?

If you pull the sex out of Game of Thrones, you might get a riveting enough storyline of violence and gore, carefully framed plotlines and an age-old power struggle. But since so much of the characters' motivations and problems are related to their sexual histories - Jon, Cersei, Tyrion being just a few examples - Rani Mahal, if it chooses to bleach them, will be hard pressed to come up with more sanitary material. But no one ever accused Indians of not being inventive. If we could come up with the zero (and, on last count, a hundred other things), there's no reason why our scriptwriters can't create a virginal Cersei Lannister.

I don't know about you, but I'm definitely going to watch this show.

Writer

Achala Upendran Achala Upendran @achalaupendran

Editor, reader, Sindarin Elf. Reviews books for @NewIndianXpress. Blogger for @momentumbooks.

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