Show Title: Chandra Nandini
Channel: STAR Plus
Timings: Monday to Friday 8:30pm
Balaji Telefilm’s latest show Chandra Nandini is based on Indian King Chandragupta Maurya and his relationship with his wife Nandini. The show will be capturing the love-hate relationship of Chandragupta and Nandini whose marriage was an outcome of a political alliance. Sounds interesting! Let’s have a look at the first episode and see if it managed to be as interesting as it looks.
Chandra Nandini (2016)
The show starts with a voiceover by ‘Mother India’ describing the nation and praising the great warriors who have laid down their lives for their motherland. She says that though history has acknowledged the contribution of several warriors and kings it hardly mentions the contribution of the brave women of this country. She tells that Queen Nandini was one of the many brave women who has played an important role in Indian history. Nandini was the woman who taught King Chandragupta Maurya, one of the most celebrated kings in India, the meaning of true love. She was his lover, his devoted wife who was always by his side. Mother India then says that the story of Chandragupta Maurya starts with his mother Rani (Queen) Mura. Rani Mura and her husband Maharaja (King) Suryagupta are in their bedroom when she tries to swat a mosquito on the king’s arm. He holds her hand before she can do so. She tells him that she cannot see something sucking the blood out of him. To which he says that she feels so because she wants to be the only person sucking his blood. She feels offended by his comment and sulks over it. Later she comes out wearing a pink outfit when the king had asked her to wear the golden one. She says that the golden outfit is too tight for her and so she had to wear the pink one. Noticing that the Maharani is still miffed with him, Maharaja lovingly holds his Maharani in his arms and tells her that he loves her a lot and that he can never live away from her. She too admits of loving him a lot and being unable to bear the thought of seeing him with another woman.
Maharaja Suryagupta is in his assembly when he receives a gift from his friend, the King of Magadha congratulating him over the queen’s pregnancy. He has also sent King Suryagupta and his wife an invitation to visit his kingdom of Magadha which Suryagupta happily accepts. Suryagupta goes to his palace to tell his wife about the invitation when he sees her drinking water from a big bowl placed on a table in the balcony. She tells him that the water she is drinking isn’t any normal water and that it held the reflection of the moon. She says that any pregnant woman who drinks water with the moon’s reflection in it will have a child as bright as the moon and that she is hopeful that the water will work for her son Chandra. Suryagupta laughs over the fact that the queen has already decided the name of their child and tells her that the moon rises only after the sun has set (in a way implying his death). She rebukes him for saying such absurd stuff and that she can never imagine her life without him. She makes him promise to never say such things again, and he obeys his queen.
Next, we see the ruler of Magadha Maharaja Shishunaga and his wife Maharani Avantika practising archery. The king tells his queen that when something important is at stake, every person learns to hit the bull’s eye and as an example, he offers to be the holder of her target. He places a melon on his head as asks her to hit it with her arrow. Avantika is frightened that she might miss and harm the king, but he is insistent and tells her to go for the shot. She pulls the bowstring and releases the arrow but closes her eyes as she is too scared to see where it hit. The melon atop the king’s head bursts, spilling red water over the king’s face and shoulders. The king laughs and congratulates his queen for her good aim but she chastises him for putting her in such a dilemma. She tells him that next time she will place a lime on his head and will ensure that she misses the target. Just as the couple is bickering Maharaja Suryagupta and his wife Maharani Mura enter the room and are happy to see the lovable couple fight. Maharaja Shishunaga and his wife warmly welcome their guests and Maharani Avantika suggests Maharani Mura to relax following a long journey by taking a warm bath.
As Maharani Mura is being undressed for the bath, we see a man peeking through the balcony. The man tells his accomplice that he has never seen a woman as beautiful as Maharani Mura, at which his friend reprimands him for eyeing a pregnant woman.
King Shishunaga has gathered his people outside his palace to give a speech explaining that they are the sons of Mother India and that no foreigner can ever place a foot on their land. He tells them that they may welcome guests with joint hands but they also know to break the enemy’s spine and that they will stay united against any attack on their motherland. As Maharani Mura hears him speak her dupatta slips off her shoulder and falls below the balcony. We see that the pervert Nand who was peeking at her taking bath before happens to catch her dupatta and then takes it up to her. She sees him coming towards her with her dupatta and goes to retrieve it from him when he deliberately brushes his hand over her arm and leaves with a sly smile on his face. Maharani Mura feels disgusted at his audacity and complains to Maharani Avantika who immediately takes Maharani Mura to Nand and punishes him for his misconduct. She sentences him to death but the merciful Maharani Mura stops her from being so harsh so Avantika then sentences him to life imprisonment.
We then see a battalion of foreign invaders trying to cross the borders of India but a man stops them saying that Bharat is his motherland and that he will never allow any foreigner to enter the country. The foreign leader tells him to do his work as he has already paid him for doing so, at which the man hurls a bag of coins at his face and tells him that no amount of money can make him betray his country. The foreigner retreats saying that one day there will be a greedy leader in India who will sell the country for money.
Maharani Mura looks restless and tells Maharaja Suryagupta that she is still feeling uneasy after what happened and wishes to leave right away when she spots Nand sneaking in the palace. Maharaja Suryagupta follows the Nand with his sword and sees him enter Maharani Avantika’s room. In the room, he sees Maharani Avantika happily lying in Nand’s lap. He hears her say that she wanted to kill Nand for eyeing another woman in her presence. However, Nand clarifies that he was actually looking at Maharani Avantika and that Maharani Mura misunderstood him. Maharani Avantika then tells him that she was almost about to kill her stupid husband Maharaja Shishunaga in the morning but refrained from doing so as she wants to keep his trust intact. She takes a dig at her husband saying that he is too stupid to take pride in his nine sons thinking they are his offspring when in reality they are all Nand’s sons. Maharaja Suryagupta is stunned at this revelation and rushes to inform his friend about his wife’s betrayal. Just as he turns to make his way to Maharaja Shishunaga he happens to knock down a vase which alerts Maharani Avantika and Nand. Maharani Avantika panics and asks Nand to stop Maharaja Suryagupta from reaching her husband.
Episode 2’s precap shows that Maharani Mura is in labour all alone lying in a field begging the Lord to help deliver her baby safely when a few peacocks arrive near her and shield her with their trains (feathers) from an army of men on horses.
First Episode First Impression
The main highlight of Chandra Nandini is its lead actors Rajat Tokas and Shweta Basu Prasad. Rajat is a pro at historical dramas and is back after a hiatus. He seems to have beefed up for this role and there is absolutely no doubt that this hunk will carry off the role with ease. Same goes for National Award recipient Shweta Basu Prasad. We have seen her perform before and are aware of her acting prowess, which is why we can assume that her performance on the show shall be seamless. Individually, these two actors may be good but what remains to be seen is whether they do justice to the characters they are playing while complementing each other as a couple. Rajat has always shared great chemistry with all of his heroines. This time, however, his relationship with his leading lady is that of love and hate. So, will he be able to create magic on-screen with Shweta? Well, for that you will have to wait for a few episodes.
Since the show has started right from the birth of Chandragupta Maurya it will take a few more episodes to have Rajat and Shweta on screen. It is good that the show makers will capture Chandragupta’s childhood, which shall probably explain more about his relationship with Nandini. However, what I noticed about several historical dramas on Indian television is that the producers of the show tend to stretch the childhood story as long as the TRP’s are coming in and will take a leap only when the TRP’s dip. I hope this doesn’t happen with this show and that it moves at a good pace without having us wait too long to see Rajat on screen.
What looked nice?
The story is the USP of the show. We have read about Chandragupta Maurya in our history classes but little is known about his wife Nandini. In fact, I never even knew of her existence till this show came up. So, the fact that this show will focus on Chandragupta’s relationship with his wife Nandini is what can intrigue the audiences.
What did not look nice?
The hideous makeup and over the top (OTT) accessories. This is one of the reasons why I despise historical television dramas. Maharani Mura was shown sleeping with a maatha patti (head chain) and a heavy nose ring and earrings. Ugh!! Are you serious? I was actually squirming in my seat each time Maharani’s earring and nose ring dangled. Yikes! I pity the actresses who have to be heavily bejewelled for almost 10 hours every day of the shoot. Shooting such historical shows in such elaborate costumes is such a tough job especially for the female actresses. Hats off to them!
I had read somewhere that Chandra Nandini is a big budget show but when I saw the computer graphics I was wondering if all the budget was used only for the OTT jewellery.
Papiya Sengupta who plays Maharani Mura did a fine job in the first episode and so did Mansi Sharma who plays Maharani Avantika. The setup looks OK if only the producers could spare some budget for the special effects on the show it would look more appealing to the viewers.
The show looks like any other historical drama on television. If you are a Rajat Tokas fan then I am sure you will watch this show. Other than that if you are interested in history especially in knowing about King Chandragupta Maurya and his wife then you can go for this one. The rest of us can continue our search for an awesome Hindi serial.