Web series by SonyLiv
Directed by Karan Sharma
Produced by Naren Kumar
Starring: Huma Qureshi, Amit Sial, Sohum Shah and Inaamulhaq
Star Rating: 3
Huma Qureshi certainly has come a long way from the airhead in Gangs of Wasseypur to a powerful CM in SonyLiv’s latest political drama Maharani.
Huma is rightly cast as the lead – Maharani. She delivers a strong performance that is every bit earthy, sincere and full of intensity.
This web series is set in Bihar of the 1990s, with politics as it’s main theme. While some say the series is loosely based on Indian politician and former Bihar state chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav’s wife Rabri Devi as there are similarities to when Lalu Prasad Yadav had to quit, due to his name coming up in the fodder scam, the makers insist the entire series is purely fictional.
The good thing about this series, is that you don’t have to know Indian politics to enjoy this, which is great for UK audiences and if you’re like me who enjoys seeing how women are taking on powerful roles in films, then this is another plus point to watch the series.
The show starts with Bheema Bharti (Sohum Shah) having recently won the state elections and is chosen for the position of chief minister (CM), much to the disappointment of former friend and now rival Navin Kumar (Amit Sial). His dutiful wife, Rani Bharti (Huma Qureshi), lives in the village with their three young kids, raising them, as well as handling all the domestic chores like managing the kitchen, bathing and milking their cows, selling the milk in the local haat, making dung cakes, etc.
Rani’s world turns upside down when there’s an assassination attempt on Bheema which leaves him critically injured and unfit to lead the party. While his own party leaders are scheming to use this as an opportunity to get rid of him as the CM, Bheema shocks the state by appointing his illiterate wife Rani Bharti, as his successor. This throws a wrench in the political machinery and sets up the main narrative.
Although the domestic Rani Bharti initially is reluctant to lead the state as CM, she eventually shows how you don’t need an education to be CM and this makes the series interesting as while Rani is learning the ropes of politics, so are we and it’s a great journey to watch.
Thanks to Bheema’s right hand man, Mishra (Pramod Pathak) and Officer on Special Duty, Kaveri (Kani Kusruti) Rani makes strides in the political world, which had expected her to be a CM ‘on paper’ make chai at home and leave the politics to the men.
But Rani proves her worth and leads from the front as Maharani. The character of Rani is perfectly portrayed by Huma Qureshi like hand to glove she eases into the skin of her character.
The series has some exceptional performances from the rest of the cats too, notably Sohum, Amit, Pramod and Inaamulhaq, who plays the finance secretary Parvez Alam. The screenplay very cleverly depicts Parvez’s bengalines and even while the language changes when Parvez is at home, you don’t need subtitles to follow what’s happening. It’s great to see that the makers haven’t forced his religious identity but the national identity.
If you are one for dialogues and action then Maharani has plentiful of decent scenes. However, where it fails is as it concludes, without giving too much away, there is much to be debated caste, corruption and crime. Which of these is the worse of the evils?
A decent watch, out now on SonyLiv