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Web’s new found love for political figures

These larger than life personalities who are tasked with running the government and the country tend to garner heightened attention and curiosity from viewers, feel makers.
By Juhi Chakraborty
PUBLISHED ON JUN 18, 2021 03:13 PM IST
Actor Huma S Qureshi stars in web series Maharani.

Variety is the spice on the OTT platforms, as you’d find content across all possible genres. The digital space has also been exploring stories based on political figures or inspired by the lives of politicians.

Most recently, shows such as Maharani, inspired by the lives of Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi as his successor, has garnered quite a good response.

Actor Huma S Qureshi, who plays the titular role in the series, tells us, “Maharani is a political show for sure, but also a very hopeful show. It’s not something that leaves you without hope, or grim. It’s almost like a fantasy that everybody harbours that if, ‘I’d be the chief minister or Prime Minister, I’d do this and that’. We say it very loosely that, ‘Tell us, we’ll correct everything’, it’s the common man’s dream.”

Qureshi cites an example of Anil Kapoor-starrer Naya (2001). “It plays into that fantasy, but done in a realistic political setting, and most people connect with that. The end leaves you hopeful,” she adds.

Even Ramya Krishnan-starrer Queen, whichchronicles the life of Shakti Seshadri — a character that bears an uncanny resemblance to late Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa — has been loved by audiences.

A still from Queen.

There are multiple reasons that make political dramas an audience favourite, feels Gautam Talwar, Chief Content Officer of the OTT platform that screens Queen.

“Firstly, these larger than life personalities who’re tasked with running the government and the country, tend to garner heightened attention and curiosity from viewers. Secondly, their personal lives — be it what motivated them to join politics, their childhood, their lives as young adults etc make for compelling storytelling, and the common man loves to know the back story about the leaders of the nation,” he explains.

Telugu web series Chadarangam revolves around the life of Sr NTR. Through this web series, the Manchu family wanted to throw some facts on the happenings that took place in NTR’s life, in his later stage of life. Modi: Journey of a Common Man is another web project based on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s life. There’s also a biopic series planned based on the life of actor-turned-politician, Sumalatha.

A still from Modi: Journey of a Common Man

Talwar also says that as a storyteller, what interests him the most about this genre is the fact that they’re able to recreate certain parts of history with a nuanced POV that makes for an interesting watch.

“What really appeals is the journey of these characters from very humble and modest beginnings, to them achieving the epitome of power in their respective field,” he adds.

Actor Amit Sial, who stars in Maharani, opines that the shows on or inspired by political figures give the audience a deep sense of satisfaction as well as hope, that it’s possible to achieve the impossible.

Talking about the prep that goes behind, he shares, “It’s a well etched out script, so I mostly relied on what was written. Subhash Kapoor (creator of the show) is an ex political journalist, so he has deep knowledge and good understanding of the subject. I think the audiences really like complex, political stories, and politics is the in thing right now. Everybody is very politically charged. Also, the series is about a life, which isn’t seen and not known in depth by normal people, and they just want to see that on screen.”

Actor Rajeev Siddhartha, who stars in Aashram which is reportedly inspired by spiritual guru and religious leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, feels that such stories can be explored in a much bigger way. “Web space allows to add more complexities, more layers and more information about the incident and characters. I feel that even the audiences like that. And in the coming time, we will see more of these stories,” he says.

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