A ride in Gautham Menon’s Queen’sland

A bold Shakti Sheshadri is not a normal girl next door or the average school student. She stays away from spotlight and loves going to school, even in times of turmoil.
While fans were visibly disappointed over Gautham Vasudev Menon’s Ennai Nokki Paayum Thotta, we were in for a surprise when we binge-watched Queen, based on the life of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa although the director has categorically denied. The first season of the series, as a whole, makes a fascinating watch although it falls back in pace.

The 11 episodes explore how ‘Shakti’ transformed from a bright student to an unwilling actor to a firebrand politician. It also looks close at how her relationship with GMR (played by Indrajith Sukumaran) distorted and how she earned his trust back.

Set in an interview format, Shakti (played by Ramya Krishnan in older age) speaks to a television journalist (played by Lillete Dubey) chronicling her life.

“You can even escape your enemy but not your childhood” is one powerful dialogue that precisely tells how a girl who has faced adversities all through her life rose to power and ruled a State.

The first episode begins with the school days of Shakti (played by Anikha Surendran). The story subtly tells us how much she yearned for parental love which she did not receive. Call it as the reason or otherwise, Shakti loved spending time at school. Her single mother Ranganayaki (played by Sonia Agarwal in one phase), struggles to make ends meet and indulges in doing odd small-time roles in movies. The absence of her mother at home, not showering love and disinterested attitude towards her education, disheartens Shakti.

One instance is where the young girl, having scored the State rank and headmistress Sister Flavia hands gives a recommendation letter for Shakti’s higher studies. She awaits for her mother’s arrival to break the news. An exhausted Shakti goes to sleep after a few hours. Ranganayaki comes home late and takes a look at the papers that she held close to her chest. Shakti’s emotions speak for what she yearns. She breaks down when her mother informs that she needs to quit studying and begin her career in acting to make ends meet. A reluctant and resistant Shakti thus made her entry into the tinsel town.

The young girl sails through tumultous seas all through her life. At the cinema industry, being a learned woman, her presence was unwelcomed. Shakti stood out from the herd, showing her intelligence. As a teenager, Shakti (played by Anjana Jayaprakash) meets GMR and acts in 27 films. By then, she earned a name for herself. The duo have mutual understanding for each other. The relationship later turns cold and Shakti decides to part ways. Her fame as an actor comes down gradually over time. Shakti then comes in contact with GMR, who had become the Chief Minister by then, and joins the party and becomes a fiery politician.

For her age, Anikha sets the bar high. The maturity and passion she shows by adapting to the character is something I personally did not see it coming from a lass. The transition, in terms of change of role, did not affect the flow, Anjana is worth a mention here. The music, composed by Dabruka Siva, adds up to the richness of the script. It is aptly complemented by the screenplay.

Bhavani Prabhakar