A DARING BUT SOMEWHAT INCOMPLETE RETELLING OF QUEEN ANNE BOLEYN’S STORY - The Daily Guardian
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A DARING BUT SOMEWHAT INCOMPLETE RETELLING OF QUEEN ANNE BOLEYN’S STORY

Murtaza Ali Khan

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Almost 500 years after her death, Anne Boleyn remains a highly divisive figure in history. Some see her as a power-hungry woman who seduced King Henry VIII, forcing the ‘pious’ king to annul his first marriage to Katherine of Aragon. Others see her as a humanitarian and a reformer who was devoted to protecting the rights of the weak and the poor. Anne was the Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of King Henry VIII. In order to secure the passage of his marriage with her, Henry had to break with the Roman Catholic Church in 1533. In other words, the Pope and general councils of the church no longer enjoyed the final authority in doctrinal and legal disputes which now rested with the monarch. But, only 3 years later, the same Henry, who took on the papacy and triggered the English Reformation in order to marry Anne, puts her on a trial for treason, which leads to her beheading. A three-part British miniseries titled ‘Anne Boleyn’ which is currently streaming on SonyLIV revisits the age-old tale of Anne’s fall from grace, giving it some interesting twists and turns.

Now, the miniseries has been completely written off by the critics. But the criticism actually has little to do with the show’s merit. One of the major reasons why ‘Anne Boleyn’ has been panned by the critics has to do with the casting of Jodie Turner-Smith in the titular role. How can a Black actress portray the white Tudor queen? This underlying argument seems to have occluded their judgment. So, here’s my counter-argument: If the American actress Linda Hunt can go on to win an Academy Award essaying the part of a Chinese-Australian man in Peter Weir’s The Year of Living Dangerously (1982) then why can’t a Black actress play the part of Queen Anne Boleyn?

The fact of the matter is that the story of Anne Boleyn has been done to death. Some titles that come to mind are Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), Wolf Hall (TV Miniseries 2015), and The Tudors (TV Series 2007-2010). More often than not, Anne is portrayed as a scheming temptress or a manipulative woman desperate to climb the social ladder. So when the writer-director duo of Eve Hedderwick Turner and Lynsey Miller dare to break the stereotypes by casting a gifted performer like Jodie Turner-Smith in the role of a strong queen like Anne Boleyn, I just don’t understand why it’s not getting celebrated? It’s a case of identity-conscious casting that theatre productions use all the time for historical plays. So it’s actually a positive sign to see that film and television are finally catching up with theatre in a bid to open up literary texts to fresh interpretations.

Consider the 2018 BBC series Les Misérables which stars a David Oyelowo in the role of a police chief named Javert. For the uninitiated, Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables on which the series is based is set in 19th century France. Now, anyone can pose the all important question to the makers: How can a Black man be a police chief in the 19th century France? Clearly, BBC wanted its series to follow a rather non-literal approach. Similarly, the makers of ‘Anne Boleyn’ want it to rise above the shadows of history. Mark Stanley, who essays the part of Henry VIII in the miniseries, sums it up perfectly: “Jodie has a lot in common with Anne Boleyn. She’s a strong, opinionated, scarily intelligent person. She was also bringing up a young child at the time that we were on set, and she’s quite awe-inspiring really… It was all about this being the right person for the job, rather than what we as a society might perceive as the ‘right look’ for the job. Anne Boleyn was beautiful, witty, vibrant, intelligent and Jodie is all of those things. She brought our Anne to life in a way another actress couldn’t.” The casting is also in sync with the feelings of otherness and disparity that Anne would have felt in the Tudor court.

Now, Jodie’s Queen Anne is no pushover; she is brave and tenacious but is not without flaws. Her passions often run wild and she can be most peremptory when she wants. But no one can question her intelligence as well as devotion for King Henry. She most certainly is smarter than any man around her and has a strong vision for her country and its people. The hitherto hated figure of Anne Boleyn became venerated as a martyr and the face of the English Reformation after her daughter with Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, was crowned as the Queen of England in 1558. It would have been ideal had ‘Anne Boleyn’ not ended with the queen’s execution and also covered events leading to Elizabeth’s coronation which paved the way for Anne’s rise as a revered historical figure as that would have provided a perfect closure to her tale. But, in its present form, the story, despite its daring, feels rather incomplete.

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CELEBRITIES JET OFF TO JAIPUR FOR KATRINA, VICKY’S WEDDING

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JAIPUR: It’s time for the wedding of the year! Bollywood stars Katrina Kaif and Vicky Kaushal will tie the knot on December 9 at Six Senses Fort Barwara, Rajasthan, and guests have already started arriving for the big fat wedding.

Radhika Madan, was spotted at the Jaipur Airport on Tuesday. Katrina Kaif’s ‘Baar Baar Dekho’ director Nitya Mehra and Vicky Kaushal’s close friend and actor Malavika Mohanan were also seen at the airport. Other celebrities who have arrived on Tuesday include Vijay Krishna Acharya and ‘Bunty Aur Babli 2’ actor Sharvari. Neha Dhupia and Angad Bedi were also spotted at the Mumbai aiport.

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SARA TURNS EMOTIONAL AS ‘KEDARNATH’ COMPLETES 3 YEARS

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Taking to Instagram, she penned a heartfelt post. “3 years ago my biggest dream came true. I became an actor, and my first, and most special film released. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to explain how much Kedarnath means to me- the place, the film, the memories, all of it,” she wrote.

The film’s third anniversary has also made Sara emotional as it brought back her memories with late actor Sushant Singh Rajput, who had essayed the role of her love interest. “But today I’m really missing my Mansoor. It’s only because of Sushant’s unwavering support, selfless help, constant guidance and compassionate advice that Mukku was able to reach your hearts. From Kedarnath to Andromeda. Miss you forever Sushant,” she added.

Sara also thanked director of the film Abhishek Kapoor for giving her the opportunity to act in ‘Kedarnath’.

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CHHORI: NUSHRRATT REVEALS HER PROCESS OF APPROACHING A CHARACTER

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MUMBAI: Chhorii star Nushrratt Bharuccha, has been garnering praises for her performance in the film, from all across. The actress went out of her comfort zone with the film and stunned us with her new avatar as an actress.

Speaking about her process of approaching the character, “With each movie, I always try and discover a new approach or method to do the character, to know the character or to turn into the character. This is because, I never went to an acting school, or took any other form of formal training, — I have always learned on the job and found my own way to do a character.”

Speaking about her character Sakshi, Nushrratt says, “Sakshi was a very layered character. She was vulnerable, soft, impressionable, forgiving and yet strong and fearless. A survivor. A fighter. Getting her emotional quotient right as a fiercely protective mother was also very important.” “I’m eternally grateful to Vishal sir for seeing Sakshi in me, and entrusting me with the character.” Says a grateful Nushrratt. Unanimously lauded as her career’s finest performance, Chhorii ushers in a new era for the actress as audiences were introduced to Nushrratt 2.0. There’s much more in store from the actress as she turns the page with content-driven films like ‘Janhit Mein Jaari’, which she headlines, ‘Ram Setu’, ‘Hurdang’ and several exciting developments in the pipeline.

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MUMBAI: 2022 is going to be a special year for Rani Mukerji’s fans as the actor’s most awaited film ‘Mrs Chatterjee VS Norway’ will release on May 20 next year.

Directed by Ashima Chibber, ‘Mrs Chatterjee VS Norway’ revolves around a journey of a mother’s battle against an entire country. It is produced by Monisha Advani, Madhu Bhojwani and Nikkhil Advani’s Emmay Entertainment and Zee Studios On Tuesday, the social media team of Emmay Entertainment took to the production banner’s Instagram account and shared the release update with netizens.

“With the odds against her, this mother must fight it all and more to be strong for her children! Inspired by a true story, #MrsChatterjeeVsNorway starring #RaniMukerji releases in theatres on – Friday, May 20th 2022,” the post read. ‘Mrs Chatterjee VS Norway’ was shot extensively in Estonia and in some parts of India. 

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WASHINGTON: Hollywood star Chris Hemsworth has teased his return as mercenary Tyler Rake in the upcoming installment of ‘Extraction’.

As per The Hollywood Reporter, Hemsworth shared a short video via the Russo Brothers Instagram account, with a caption declaring that the action sequel is “coming in hot…or actually, freezing cold.” In a snowy location, Hemsworth appeared, slightly bloodied, on a train with stuntman-turned-director Sam Hargrave, who helmed the 2020 hit. “First day shooting on Extraction 2,” Hemsworth said in the video, adding that they are in Prague. “Two things are different from the last film. One: very very cold. Two: I’m alive. How? You’ll have to find out. Watch the movie. Stay tuned,” he added. ‘Extraction’ told the story of Rake, an Australian black market mercenary who is enlisted to rescue the kidnapped son of an international crime lord. Upon its release, the film was viewed on Netflix by an estimated 90 million households. The upcoming sequel has been penned by ‘Avengers: Endgame’ filmmaker Joe Russo.

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