Bollywood has been devoid of original ideas and movie plotlines for quite some time. The advent of OTT platforms and the growing interest of Indians in the novice streaming services brought in some good drama series and movies to our screens, albeit momentarily, but they did. However, it now appears that the streaming services have run out of steam and just like Bollywood, they are churning woke cinema that the public has time and again rejected.
A political drama named Maharani was recently released on Sony Liv, drawing inspiration from real-life characters of jailed RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi. The ten-part TV show is a hagiography of the corrupt leader and completely flips his story on its head.
Huma Qureshi has played the lead role and has been supported by actors like Sohum Shah, Vineet Kumar, Atul Tiwari, Amit Sial etc. The series canvasses the story of Bihar of 1990, where an illiterate woman is suddenly catapulted to the top of the political ladder of the state and handed the reins of the Chief Minister, quite similar to what happened in reality when Lalu crowned Rabri as the CM.
Within the first ten minutes of Maharani’s first episode, the message is imposed on the viewers that the upper caste people are disgusting, lowly, the scourge of the earth creatures who need to be removed from the face of the planet. And who better to take on the legion of upper-caste men than the Naxalites who are portrayed as some kind of cult heroes.
The series portrays Bihar’s Ranveer Sena as the big broody villain. The Ranveer Sena was formed by ordinary Bihari folks of Brahmin, Thakur, Kurmi and Bhumihar castes in 1994, with the sole aim to counter the influence of various left-wing militants and Naxalite groups. Fed up of the monstrosities of the Naxalites, this group is responsible for single-handedly cleansing the state of the influence of Maoists. But obviously, the series dubs them as the cliché antagonist.
And this is where the audience immediately starts to feel disinterested when the real intention behind the plotlines of the series is revealed. No one likes to be preached while watching cinema but it seems to be the usual tropes of the current crop of directors and producers who have to compulsorily add their political inclinations and ideas into a storyline.
The plot of the series is so convoluted that the lead actress Huma Qureshi, for the second time in a week has been forgotten by the creators. In Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, Huma was a small plot device that was conveniently used as a side set-piece but somehow, owing to her lack of acting prowess, was left alone without any explanation by the end of the film. Similarly, in Maharani, several other plotlines branch out and in her own show, Huma Qureshi is reduced to a side actress.
The creators of the series, through their creative and imaginative plot building techniques, have tried to justify the ‘Jungle Raj’ that spread its tentacles from 1990 to 2005 in the state. The unholy nexus of RJD and Naxalites came together to covert Bihar into a hell hole but the series attempts to humanise the latter and unashamedly justifies their actions.
SJWs of the country have always had a soft spot for left-wing extremists aka Naxalites and there is no iota of doubt that some comrade has indeed regurgitated his thoughts into penning the script.
The crime was at its peak in Bihar under the leadership of Rabri Devi, where wanted criminals like Mohammad Shahabuddin roamed free in the name of minority appeasement.
If you really want to watch a haphazard, unconvincing, incoherent, altered history of Bihar glorifying the likes of Lalu Prasad Yadav, then this series hits the nail perfectly. However, if you are looking for sensible and intriguing political drama, Maharani surely shouldn’t even be on your top-1000 list.