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Gautham Menon On His Bio-pic Webseries Allegedly On Jayalalitha

First things  first. Prolific Tamil director Gautham Menon’s webseries The Queen  on  the iconic Jayalalitha which starts streaming on  14 December,  is taking the  cautious route  by  semi-fictionalizing the story.

Says Gautham with a straight face. “Our protagonist is named Shakthi Sheshadri played by  the wonderful  Ramya Krishnan. Shakthi  is a renowned actress who rises  to  dizziyng heights of fame as  an actress and then a  politician.”

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?All resemblance to any person living  or  dead  is purely coincidental?

Gautham isn’t denying the resemblance  to Jayalalitha. “If you see the resemblance or connect with the  story,  it’s up to you. I’ve only gone with the writing and  it’s about a woman who stood out and paved the way for herself.But we  are not emphasizing  the resemblances  to any  real-life personality. If fans  of  the great  leader  choose to see  her in our webseries  they’re welcome  to do so.  The  Queen, as we call our webseries,  is  a very inspirational story of one woman’s rise to unprecedented  position  of power and fame.There’s nothing controversial here.”

This is Gautham Menon’s first webseries.

He  reiterates, “It’s also the  first time that the project came  to me with  the writing completely in  place.  Reshma Ghatala has  written  the  series. When I read what she had done I was  deeply impressed. The writing is entirely hers. I came into the project to give the writing a  visual manifestation.”

As  for doing a  webseries  for the first time Gautham  laughs, “I had  come  colleagues calling to sympathize  with  me for  doing a webseries.They don’t realize how important this  platform has become. I  am  so glad  so many of the big names  in  Hindi cinema are going on the OTTplatform. In Tamil Nadu it is yet to  become popular. What I love about doing  a web series  is  the freedom that  it affords a filmmaker.  I don’t have to constantly think about  cutting down my  scenes.There’s much more space here to expand  on  the  emotions. A story like this cannot be squeezed  into a feature film.”

This  brings   us  to the  feature film on  Jayalalitha featuring Kangana Ranaut. 

Says  Gautham, “I wish  the  project  all the best.our  biopic  is not about any actual personality . But  like I said,  I wonder how  how they will squeeze in Jayalalitha M’aam’s entire life into  2 and a half hours. I am waiting to see the film. With Vijayendra Prasad writing it,  it’s got to be something special.”

The spoken  language in The Queen would be Tamil and English.  “The  characters  will speak in the language that they’re supposed to. In one major chunk of  the  series Ramya will also speak in Telugu. But there will be English subtitles  throughout , no matter which language  the  characters speak in.”

Gautham says  getting Ramya Krishnan to play  the  lead was providential. “She has had  quite  a journey as  an  actress.And she’s  able to convey all the  nuances layers and dimensions  of a character defies all categorization.” 

Interestingly Ramya has used no  prosthetics for her role as the “fictional historical” version of Jayalalitha.

Says  Gautham, “I didn’t want to get into the trap of making my actress look any  real  person through  prosthetics, weight-gain, etc. I believe  the power of a real-life  character  comes from the actor’s skills , not the external trappings.”

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