Maharani 2 is what every web sequel must be—better, not just bigger!

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Sohum Shah and Huma qureshi in Sony LIV’s Maharani 2 created by Subhash Kapoor. Photo: Trailer Video Grab 

Viewers are sure getting luckier. After Never Have I Ever 3, we have another series—this time, homespun and in Hindi—which goes leagues over the earlier season. Maharani 2 can be like a textbook on how a season should be taken forward: it is bigger to an extent but much more impactful and inspired in its writing.

And by this, I not only mean the topicality and relevance (the show is based in Bihar’s pre-Jharkhand era with excellently relatable political and social parallels) but also how each character is taken forward. And the fact that the common lead and supporting cast all get deeper into their characters (because of the writing and, of course, the direction) and scores far higher than in the earlier season.

Season 1 ended with Rani Bharti, the CM (Chief Minister) of Bihar, having her ex-CM husband, Bheema Bharti (Sohum Shah) and some others arrested for various corrupt activities. Season 2 begins with Bheema distancing himself from his wife, and also wanting to get back to active politics, while running a proxy government from jail with the support of his corrupt team, making Rani a helpless spectator!

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The time comes when Rani and Bheema split the party supporters and Bheema has to form a new party, and there is the third angle with common opponent Navin Kumar (Amit Sial), who has an ambition to be the CM for 17 years and head another opposition party.

The power system that exists behind-the-scenes adds to the complexities and complications—there is the wily governor (Atul Tiwari), a man who wants a separate Jharkhand state (Robin Das), the slimy Gauri Shankar Pandey (Vineet Kumar) and other associates.

On the other hand, there are fierce loyalists like Rani’s secretary Kaveri Shreedharan (Kani Kusruti) and Bheema’s right-hand, Satyendranath Mishra (Pramod Pathak) whose faith in their bosses remains unwavering. There is also Rani’s intangibly whimsical brother Sanyasi (Kumar Saurabh) who has dreams beyond his qualification, which lead to his undoing.

The interplay between all of the characters is what makes for the exciting developments, twists and shockers, all with real-life parallels that include rape, self-immolation, Commissions for the bringing-up of backward classes, and hence class and religion divides used as per convenience. When the state election does not give a clear verdict in a triangular show, we have the usual attempts to cobble up a majority despite compromises with party stands and manifestos!

Add the resultant murders, manipulated accidents, caste-based politics and communal cards and a smart-ass political strategist (Neha Chuahan) to aid Naveen’s progress, and we have a very fertile political stew that is made further interesting by the murder of Bheema (No, that’s not a spoiler!) and the investigation headed by a maverick officer, Martin Ekka (Dibyendu Bhattacharya, as lovably magnificent as ever). The committee investigates all the possible perpetrators to come out with not just a shocking truth but also a scandalous outcome for their diligent investigation!

The performances, as said before, are uniformly outstanding. Huma Qureshi towers as Rani and must be a key nominee for Best Lead Female Actor in a Web Series this year. She has now got into Rani’s body, soul and mind (!) so deeply yet effortlessly that one has to watch the show to know how magnificent she is.

Sohum Shah is excellent too, and one sequence that stands out, all the more because of its brevity, is Bheema’s final scene with Sanyasi. Amit Sial, underplayed and fabulous, is also a delight. The oh-so-prim-proper-and-confident Neha Chauhan as Kalpana is superb, and full marks to the writers for not bringing in the ‘physical’ element of any sort between Navin and her.

I must also salute the writers for not showing any needless physical intimacy between Bheema and his new objet d’amor, Kirti (Anuja Sathe). ‘Normal’ web series makers would have cashed in on this “situation” and gone the whole hog, as this was a web series bereft of censor interference!

But even more than this, one must congratulate creator and co-writer Subhash Kapoor for conceiving the deadliest climax ever in any political series, with a glimpse of how abominably murky the lust for power can be. The show ends on this ironically poetic note of making even Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar relevant to the series, and we can even forgive the melodramatic side of Rani berating her husband’s murderers. Because this also portends what will happen in the next season, which is undoubtedly going to up the ante even more.

Don’t miss Maharani 2. Binge-watch Season 1, in which the real meat is seen only after the first two tepid episodes, if you want to fully savor this season’s intrinsic merits even more. Because Maharani 2 goes on par with last year’s fabulous Mayanagari—City of Dreams, and makes me wonder why shoddy political ‘waste-ercises’ like Tandav are at all conceived and shown.

Rating: ****1/2

Sony LIV presents Kangra Talkies’ Maharani 2  Created by: Subhash Kapoor Produced by: Naren Kumar & Dimple Kharbanda  Directed by: Ravinder Gautam Written by: Subhash Kapoor, Singh Nandan, Uma Shankar Singh  Music:Mangesh Dhakde  Starring: Huma Qureshi, Sohum Shah, Amit Sial, Kani Kusruti, Neha Chauhan,  Anuja Sathe, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Vineet Kumar, Pramod Pathak,  Mohammad Aashique Hussain, Sushil Pandey, Atul Tiwari, Sukumar Tudu, Robin Das, Danish Iqbal, Kumar Saurabh, Pranay Narayan, Agasthya Shanker & others

 

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