Daily Recco, February 24: Queen web series is not about J Jayalalithaa
On the late Chief Minister’s 73rd birth anniversary, watch Queen, which has 'nothing to do with her'.
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Women leaders evoke strong reactions across the world. The story of one such bunch of strong reactions is MX Player’s Queen. The story is reportedly not based on the life of one of India’s strongest women politicians, J Jayalalithaa, whose birth anniversary it is today. The poignant web series tracks the story of a young girl from Chennai who rises to dizzying heights of movie stardom and then to using the lines of power as skipping ropes at the peak of politics.
Queen uses two storytelling mechanisms to tell the story of the girl who is ‘not Jayalalithaa’. It mimics an interview that the politician gave years ago on the show Rendezvous with Simi Garewal (the journalist played by Lilette Dubey) in one stream and the story of a schoolgirl in the other stream. What emerges is a touching picture of a person who evokes reactions that range from outright worship to searing hatred.
The web series tracks the story of Shakti Seshadri, an A-student in an elite school in Chennai, who is forced to start acting in movies to help bail her family out of the financial doldrums. The heady world of the politically charged Tamil film industry is a key component of this narrative, but it has been portrayed on screen many times before. A bright student, a reluctant (yet one of the most successful) actor and a passionate politician (Tamil Nadu's youngest Chief Minister). What makes Queen stand out, however, is the fact that it lines out the emotional and personal struggles of the protagonist. That is not very common in the portrayal of Indian politicians, male or female.
The young Shakti is brilliantly essayed by Anikha Surendran, vicenarian Shakthi by Anjana Jayaprakash, while the older Shakti is played by Tamil cinema’s resident swag queen, Ramya Krishnan of the Baahubali fame. Shakti's mentor, co-actor in most of her hits films and her first love interest is actor-turned-politician GMR — GM Ravichandran (essayed by Indrajith Sukumaran). Also making an appearance in the web series is Gautam Vasudev Menon, who also co-directed the show.
The makers of the show have gone out of the way to assure everyone that the story is not a biopic of Jayalalithaa, whose AIADMK is set to face its first Assembly election since her death. Gautam Menon was among those the AIADMK government conferred the Kalaimamani State Award last week. We are not sure we entirely understand their sense of humour in all of this.
Leaving the late Chief Minister aside on her 73rd birth anniversary, you would not regret watching Queen. It has nothing to do with Jayalalithaa, apparently.