Cast: Ramya Krishnan (Adult Shakthi Sheshadri), Anikha Surendran (Young Shakthi Sheshadri), Lillete Dubey
Director: Gautham V Menon
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
(The review is only based on the first two episodes of the series)
How often is it the case that people who lose it all in their childhood gain redemption and power after years of striving hard for everything they didn’t have back then and which they hankered for? Quite often. But to make that happen, one needs to have the utmost amount of dedication and passion, and that’s what separates the character of Shakthi Sheshadri in MX Player’s Queen. The character of Shakhthi Sheshadri is based largely on the inspirational, impelling and propelling journey of Jayalalitha. So how does the adaptation eventually stand out? Let’s read.
Set in the time of the 1960’s, the opening sequence shows a 15-year old young and eloquent Shakhti Sheshadri, serving her duty with perfection as the ‘Head Girl’ of the school. She is extremely passionate and fervent towards her education and studies, as she happens to be an aspiring lawyer who wants to set new standards in the world of law. However, everything isn’t served to her with a silver spoon as she has her own financial struggles and hardships to deal with at home. Her mother is a widow and a struggling actress who has a new battle to deal with everyday to earn some pennies for the house. That’s the reason, despite her winning the ‘Best Outgoing Student Award’ from her Convent School courtesy her prolonged discipline and state rank, she is forced to quit her education and venture into the world of films, all thanks to the photos clicked by her best friend Pinky’s father at their house ‘puja’. Although hesitant and reluctant as seen from Shakthi’s reaction, like locking herself in her room, to going through altercations and verbal fists with her mother, Shakhti eventually gets into the world of films, realizing the fact that she needs to start working to be the breadwinner of the house.
IWMBuzz Verdict: Both Ramya Krishnan and Anikha Surendran have justified their character shades of Shakhti Sheshadri, and the pain and agony is definitely visible in their performance if you look through their eyes. The way the director fluctuates the narrative and the screenplay by co-relating the modern-day Shakthi Sheshadri narrating her life-tale in an interview with Lillete Dubey, to simultaneously showing the hardship, destitution and penury of Shakthi’s adolescence, is quite jaw-dropping as a whole. As far as the aesthetics go, the director and the art direction probably needed to pay more attention to certain celebratory scenes, as definitely some of the props and items used in the frame don’t belong to the era of the 60’s. Rather, they look as good as 2019. From the costumes to the decoration to the props, a lot could have been done to continue the narrative flow so that it doesn’t divert your attention from the fact that you are watching a heart-wrenching tale of the 1960’s. The lighting and the way the culture of South India is shown, right from the way the women drape their sarees to showing big photo frames of Southern Gods, as typically found in South-Indian families, is something appreciable. It keeps you connected to the reality. The cinematography is impressive and the way certain OTS shots, pans and tilts are done, it gets you more deeply involved in the narrative. For example, the particular shot where Shakthi has to take the trouble of climbing up the wall to enter Pinky’s house, that entire shot has been given a bird’s view perspective and that definitely adds layers to the frame. Overall, the first two episodes will keep you hooked for many more. And although initially it starts a little slow, it gradually picks up pace and that’s more than enough to make you watch all 11 episodes. A tale of loss, redemption, love, success and failure all compiled in one, Queen should definitely be in your ‘To-Do’ list this weekend.