Genre - Drama
Cast - Huma Qureshi, Sohum Shah, Amit Sial, etc.
Director - Karan Sharma
No. of episodes - 10
Watch it on - Sony Liv
Despite the good reviews, I was skeptical about watching Maharani for some time. Reason being, most of the dramas on OTT platforms (most prominent examples being Mirzapur, Sacred Games etc.) are loaded with nudity, violence and bad language. One likes to watch good drama, but not at the cost of getting uncomfortable watching a person's eye popped out of his skull on being shot at. Thankfully, Maharani came out totally clean, atleast on the nudity and extreme violent scenes aspect. Considering the plot, expecting abuse free dialogues would be too much.
The series is based on the political scenarios in Bihar in the late 90s. Being a 90s kid, the series just took me back in time when Rabri Devi became the first Chief Minister of Bihar. Although, the makers have tried to stay clear of any possible controversies by clarifying in the beginning itself that the series is fictional, one can easily draw a lot of parallels between the plot and the actual turn of events back then.
So the story goes like this...Rani (Huma Qureshi), is a simple housewife living in a Bihar village with her three children. While she happens to be the wife of the Chief Minister of Bihar, Bheema Bharti (Sohum Shah), that in no way affects her humility and simplicity. Having no interest in politics, Rani's world revolves around her husband, children, housework and cattle.
Rani's life changes overnight on an uneventful Chhath eve, when her husband Bheema Bharti is shot in his own village by some unidentified men. The same Rani who had vowed never to leave her village, is forced to move to Patna to attend to her husband. Bheema barely survives the assassination attempt and a paralytic attack however, the future of the CM's seat goes in for a limbo. Amidst joyous opposition leaders and jealous party members, ready to grab the post, Bheema plays a master stroke, by announcing his wife, Rani as the next Chief Minister.
As an unaware Rani brings a tray of tea cups to serve to party members, she is shocked by the shower of garlands and congratulatory messages. She is shell shocked to find her on the position she has never understood or liked. For the initial few days as the Chief Minister Rani is shown to be furious and non cooperative as a child who doesn't wish to be sent to school. But when there are attacks on her self esteem and abilities, the queen decides to take charge and famously states in the legislative assembly "The lady who can manage a house, can manage the state." The screenplay, indeed justifies the description as despite being the Chief Minister, Rani is shown to be the loving and caring wife and mother - isn't that the ideal working Indian woman that all husbands and in laws desire?
Struggling to stay afloat in the high tide of political events, the innocent Rani is shown to learn tricks of the trade hard way and often falls prey to conflicts and controversies. As the show progresses, Rani is shaken to discover the muddy reality of the politics that is her husband's first love. But, like the real queen, an honest and sincere Rani is determined to save her state from the corrupted few. In the male dominated political map, she is often compared with Indira Gandhi by her critics and mocked at. Like all women centric political dramas, the protagonist always has to win. Hence, despite all odds, the directors do find some success in throwing some hard to believe events and Rani playing the perfect check mate.
The screenplay is very gripping and focusses on various issues faced by Bihar in the 90s - caste system, Naxal upsurge, position of women and the infamous scams that once ruled the headlines.
Huma Qureshi as Rani does justice to the role in every sense and has worked hard to replicate the typical Bihari accent as well. I actually went back to episode 2 after reaching the 8th or 9th episode, just to notice how effortlessly Huma portrayed the drastic transformation from Rani to CM madam.
While Sohum Shah has the obvious meaty role, it is Amit Sial who leaves the audience impressed with his expressions and dialogues, despite being the lead antagonist. For those who have watched Pramod Pathak as the pervert politician in Mirzapur, his portrayal of the loyal Mishraji is a welcome change. Inammulhaq as Pervez Alam with his cute Bangla accent is the hidden surprise.
Leaving aside some hard to believe scenes, overall the makers of Maharani have proved that a combination of good script and great actors can be the perfect delicacy without the unwanted tampering of nudity and extremely violent scenes.
My Rating - 3.5/5
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