Ramya Krishnan on her web series Queen: Character may resemble Jayalalitha; nothing wrong with that as I'm a fan of hers
Ramya Krishnan plays Shakthi Sheshadari in Queen and looks like a spitting image of Jayalalithaa. In an exclusive interview to Firstpost, she opens up about the series.
Two films and one web series are being made on Jayalalithaa, the late iconic, charismatic and controversial politician and chief minister of Tamil Nadu. This weekend the web series Queen premiered on the OTT platform MX Player. It has Ramya Krishnan in the title role, is directed by Gautham Menon and Prasath Murugesan, and screenplay by Reshma Ghatala.
While the producers of the web series claim the show is based on the book 'Queen' written by Anitha Sivakumar, the trailer and posters clearly reveal the similarities with the life and times of Jayalalithaa. A case was filed against Gautham Menon and the producers by J Deepa, late Jayalalithaa’s niece, claiming that they presented the story of the former leader without her permission. However the Madras High Court declined to stay the OTT premiere. The show has been streaming since 14 December.
Ramya Krishnan plays Sakthi Seshadri in Queen and looks like a spitting image of Jayalalithaa. In an exclusive interview to Firstpost, she opens up about the series.
You have been part of south Indian film industry for nearly three decades. How does it feel to switch from films to a different platform?
I’m still doing films in Telugu and Tamil. I feel web series is the next big thing; the OTT platforms are going to be a game changer. When I was at my peak, I willingly did character roles which were more powerful than the heroine. Later I did television serials, which at that time no actress would venture into. As an actress I love to experiment and take up new challenges.
Is Queen a biopic series on Jayalalithaa?
Queen is based on a book written by Anitha Sivakumar, which she says is based on true events. I play Sakthi Seshadri, a fiercely independent woman who triumphed in a man’s world against all odds. I fell in love with the character and her journey when it was narrated to me by our screenplay writer Reshma Ghatala . It’s very inspiring story of a brilliant student who was forced to quit school due to certain circumstances. Later she went on to become a top actress and finally shone like a star in politics, which was clearly a man’s forte .Yes, Sakthi’s characterisation may remind you of Jayalalithaa, nothing wrong in that, I myself am a huge fan of hers. Let me put it this way; there are a lot of similarities between the life of Shakthi and Jayalaithaa, which may be coincidental, but the web series is based on the book Queen.
What attracted you to take up the web series when many frontline actors in south are reluctant to enter the OTT platform?
Like I said before OTT is the most exciting and fastest growing new platform in the world. When I did Padayappa with Rajinikanth, there was a clause that it could be shown on television only three years after its theatrical release, now big Tamil films are premiering on OTT, in less than 50 days after its theatrical release. OTT allows you to experiment with different type of roles without any restriction and I want to be part of it. I took up Queen as the writing, characterisation and thought process of Sakthi is amazing, which cannot be translated if made into a film due to the constraints around the platform.
There has been a lot of criticism about Kangana Raunat’s first look in Thalivi said to be a biopic on Jayalaithaa. But in Queen you seemed to have got the look correct.
I think among the younger lot Kangana is one of the finest actors in the country. I’m sure she is capable of delivering and I love her for being gutsy and forthright. As far as Queen is concerned right from the beginning Gautham and the team was very clear that we will not use prosthetic make-up.
Haven’t you done a similar role as Neelambari in Padayappa? (In the 1999 Rajinikanth mega blockbuster directed by KS Ravikumar, Ramya Krishnan's character was said to be modelled on Jayalalithaa, who at that time had lost the state elections)
Let me put this way; Neelambari and Sakthi are both strong characters who are trying their best to make a mark in a man’s world. And in the film till the end she could not be tamed even by a hero like Superstar Rajinikanth, which I believe was one of the reasons why the character worked big time at the box-office. But the journey of Shakthi in Queen is different; all she wanted was simple things in her life.
You have a knack for getting good roles like Baahubali 1 and 2 and recently Super Deluxe?
I feel actors are like clay, prone to be shaped by the script and the directors. I have been lucky to get such good roles as Sivagami and Leela as commercial cinema itself is changing.
Tell us something about other interesting characters in the series. Will there be more seasons of Queen?
Malayalam actor Indrajith plays GMR, Viji Chandrasekhar is Suryakala and there are many others. As of now I have been signed for the next season also.
One last question: Have you met Jayalalithaa?
No, I have never met Jayalaithaa, though I was a big fan of hers and had great admiration for the way she handled herself and triumphed in a man’s world against all odds.
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