Takhta 3 Ratu – Drama series review

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

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I’ve been waiting for this kind of drama ages ago. We had so many stories in the period of Malacca sultanate but our film industry failed to take advantage of our history. Takhta 3 Ratu or in english it would be ‘the throne of 3 queens’ take us back on the sultan Mansur Shah period where he ruled Malacca in a glorious manner. According to history, Sultan Mansur Shah’s strength lies on diplomatic relation with many powerful countries at that time like Majapahit and China. In order to achieve their alliance, well, he married their princesses. This story is not entirely based on historical text. There are some things that Erma Fatima changed to match the story well. Why i decided to review this drama, i still couldnt figure out the reasons other than it was historical fiction and the main characters is 3 woman from different backgroud with similar mind set, to make sure their son take over the throne. Dont get me wrong, History text stated that Sultan Mansur Shah is always being fair to all his wives (yeah, Polygamous marriage has been practiced by royal families for so long). While we are allowed to believe otherwise, it would be nice to have someone to take a deeper look at his wives’s relationship and translate it into drama.

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The first 2 episodes, the story revolves between Sultan Mansur Shah and Raden Galuh Chenderai ; how Sultan Mansur Courting Raden to be his wife right after his queen died. Raden disagree to the whole marriage as she doesnt really know the sultan. His father, the Majapahit king already agrees to the marriage as it would do good to their county to add malacca as their ally. Sultan knew he should try to woo Raden herself. He relentlessly pursuing Galuh by imposing himself as shipping captain who just passing by Majapahit. They exchanges letters a few times until they first laid eyes on each other in the wedding ceremony. Raden knew that he would be a good husband and a great king to her. Who knew such happiness would be just in a short amount of time?

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The third episode when Malacca is under attack from few countries. The threat is getting bigger. Sultan Mansur Shah worried over his kingdom. He then heading to China to strengthen their diplomatic relation on Tun Perak’s suggestion. Raden knew that Sultan Mansur Shah left to take another wife when she overheard palace servants has been ordered to bring the best spices to China. As ridiculous as it sounds, Sultan Mansur Shah in this Drama knows how to cook and charmed all his wives, including Raden and Hang lipo via his culinary skills. Raden tried to stop Sultan Mansur Shah from going to Malacca but it was too late. She was stopped by Hang Tuah. Hang Tuah felt symphatetic towards Raden but His loyalty towards Sultan is his top priority. This, most of us knew, that Hang Tuah placed his loyalty towards Malacca and Sultan above everything. He even killed his best friend, Jebat for Sultan.

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Raden mended her feeling by confiding it to Hang Tuah. Hang Tuah and Raden become close friend when Raden learned Silat from him.However,Their feeling and attraction grew stronger each day. Hang Tuah put his own feeling hidden and rejected Raden nicely. After few months, Sultan returned from China with Hang Lipo. Tuah has been ordered to shift Raden to another palace. Raden felt sad and disappointed but she obeyed. On the other hands, Hang lipo felt suffocated and couldnt find anything that she would like in Malacca. She felt frustrated and Sultan Mansur Shah couldnt find any time to entertain her. Raden took her chance by being a good wife and serve his husband right. However, Sultan Mansur Shah returned to Hang lipo’s side when she managed to get herself pregnant. It was unfortunate to Raden as she couldnt get herself pregnant even married to Sultan for years.

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Raden knew she had to do something. She visited Hang Lipo and tried to appear nice as she can be. Sultan Mansur glad to know about it and wanted his wives to treat each other nicely. Little did he know that it was all an act between his 2 wives. They envied amd couldnt stand each other. Raden hated Hang lipo for bearing son first and Hang lipo hated Raden because she is always the Sultan Favorite. The facade of visiting and spying between each other is normal. They will do anything to let Sultan favor them a little bit than others. Hang Lipo gave birth to son and Raden felt insecure for not being the first one to give Sultan Mansur Shah, an heir though at that time, she’s already pregnant.

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The following episode focuses on how Malacca again is under threat from other prominent states like Inderapura and Siam. Sultan Mansur Shah send Hang Tuah to investigate the issue. Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat went to Inderapura and met Lelawangsa, Inderapura’s princess on the way there. Hang Tuah seize the moment and kidnapped Lelawangsa right away. Sultan Mansur Shah fell sick and the tension arises at the palace. Hang Lipo went to Sultan’s side right away and pretend to care for him as Raden wont be able to do so. Raden is weak at that time prior to her condition after being in labor. Hang Lipo went on badmouthing and accuse others infront of Sultan Mansur Shah after his health has been restored. Sultan Mansur Shah believed her and put Raden in Jail. Puteri Lela Wangsa on the other hands stuck in the situation between wrath of 2 queens after arrived there with Hang Tuah. I wouldnt spoil the ending to you. You guys should watch it in order to know whether Puteri Lela Wangsa end up marrying Sultan Mansur Shah or ran away with Hang Tuah. I bet most of you already know how the ending would be.

Raden Galuh Chenderai portayed by Feby Febiola

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This girl could act. I mean for local standard, her performance is outstanding. I like her character more than others. Yes, she is wicked but she is not 100% evil. What she did in the palace is for her own survival. She never know that Hang lipo will turn more evil than her.

Hang Lipo portrayed by Soo Wincci

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She supposed to be evil. I felt she fell a little short in her character. She just a mean bitch you may have met in High School. Her command in Classic Malay is okay. She can act but not in this role. I guess not everyone could play a convincing evil role.

Sultan Mansur Shah portrayed by Azri Iskandar

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Come on, need i say more? He has a pure talent in acting compared to those group of actors who just depends on good looks. He managed to be a sweet talking husband, sometimes being an unfair assholes to his wives and a sultan who is easily swayed by rumors and false news. I like him when he successfully portrayed this role and i dislike him because this role is just everything that i hate in man ; unfaithful, unfair and pessimist.

Hang Tuan portrayed by Awie

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After the epic tale of Puteri Gunung Ledang of Tiara Jacqueline, i felt no one could bring Hang Tuah alive other than M. Nasir. However, Awie live up to the expectation and didnt disappoint me in the role. I dont know how others felt about it but to me, he nailed it. You can felt the agony in him of loyalty to the Sultan and wanting to follow his own heart. Just watch Awie past films esp. In the 90s, though some of it is very cringing but dude, he performed in each role.

Hang Jebat portrayed by Beto Khusyairi

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I felt he was too intense and emotional in portraying Hang Jebat. In my understanding, Jebat is somehow more rational compared to Tuah. I dont know whether Erma Fatima wanted to Beto to portray Jebat like that or Beto wanted to bring his own depiction in the role. Jebat in this drama always questioning everything, accusing or throwing accusation before investigate it and always being cynical to others including Tuah. If thats how beto really wanted to put his own twist in Jebat character, i guess he did it. Its just me that hate those twist.

Tun Perak portrayed by Datuk Rahim Razali

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Any local film maker knows that having Datuk Rahim Razali in the historical film is an added advantage. He will be perfect for any given roles ; be it advisor, treasurer or warrior. He delivered well in his potrayal as Tun Perak. As a man full of wisdom, he remain composed whenever Sultan Mansur Shah being reckless and lacking in making his own judgment. Aside from his fake wig, i dont have any problem with his role.

Puteri Lela Wangsa portrayed by Erra Fazira

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Puteri Lela wangsa, in my opinion, is the character though short in appearance but making such a big impact to the Drama. Lela wangsa before being kidnapped by Hang Tuah is childish. She has been promised to Siamese Prince and They have been engaged ever since. She is playful and a spoilt princess. After being kidnapped by Hang Tuah, she fell in love with Him during the journey to Malacca. Again, both of them try to hide their feeling. She’s becoming more mature and confronted Hang Tuah about her feeling (whether Hang Tuah did accept it or reject it, i will not spoilt it.) Go watch it, guys.

DESPERATE LOVE / Qīngchéng jué liàn / 倾城绝恋 – The Blurred Lines Between Love, Imprisonment and Marriage

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*WARNING: SINCE THE DRAMA REVOLVES MAINLY ABOUT THE HELPLESS SITUATIONS THE FEMALE CHARACTERS WERE TRAPPED IN DURING THE ERA OF HISTORICAL CHINA, MOST OF THE CONTENT HERE  WILL REPRESENT A FREEDOM-LOVER’S POINT OF VIEW.*

RATING – 3/5 (Good Durian… Thought it’s philosophically bad, it’s still good…)

There is so many things I want to write about this drama. Generally, it is a good melodramatic drama. Wait, change that to super over-dramatic because I think there’s always someone evil creating new evil conflicts in each episodes. But then, rather than the evil characters themselves, the reason why I love and hate this drama at the same time are the misgivings I have about it. The drama touches on a wide variety of women issues such as freedom, marriage and societal expectations on virtue and purity that I think make the drama worth discussing here.

Standing up to its title, Desperate Love, this story REALLY is about a love so desperate between Princess Mei Li and Prince Jing Xuan, or whom Mei Li affectionately addressed as Jing Xuan Gege.

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Princess Mei Li

Our pre-evolution Mei Li is a bright and innocent princess of a Mongolian state, holding the title of a Gong Ju or a State Princess. Because of her outgoing and protocol-free personality, she was often ostracized by the members of the Imperial Harem. Gong Ju also signifies her to be of a lower rank than the Imperial Princess or Gege. Now I know the difference between Gong Ju and Gege! Nonetheless, she was the favourite of the Empress Dowager, who soon persuaded to bestow Mei Li the title of a Gege as well.

The title of Gege should have settled all of her problems with regards to her status. However, the sudden passing of her father made her an orphan, thus without any family and money to boast her reputation. Her only saving grace was the Empress Dowager’s love and attention towards her, which provided her with some importance in the eyes of other people. Other than that, due to all the problems she created due to her personality, she was not really favoured as anyone’s daughter-in-law and it can be said that all potential mother-in-laws with eligible bachelor sons avoided her like a disease.

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Princess Mei Li and Prince Jing Xuan

Our pre-evolution Jing Xuan gege(which is also used to call someone an older brother) is the Emperor’s cousin and an important general in the empire. He was a super masculine man with a cold exterior, a manly man to the core. Which pretty much sums up everything about him. Mei Li loved and cherished him, and also looked up to him. Our Princess Mei Li and her Jing Xuan gege fell in love quite instantly, having a sweet romantic relationship.

Unfortunately, their relationship did not end well, particularly due to the fact that Jing Xuan gege had already been betrothed to another noble lady, Su Ying. Since betrothal was a serious family business back in the day, Jing Xuan somehow did not have a choice but to marry her. After a great deal of misunderstanding and conflicts, Jing Xuan and Mei Li eventually broke up.

Mei Li, after an accident where she unintentionally killed her foster sister, transformed from a bright girl to a depressed super sad melancholic woman. She was traumatized by the event, always blaming herself and somehow ended up punishing herself very severely. At first, I thought the grief would not last forever, but damn, it did. From that point onwards, our Mei Li gege turned to a weak and weaker person, becoming more and more helpless in controlling her destiny. She LITERALLY surrendered herself to fate, deeming herself unworthy of happiness.

Sometimes, I just want to shake her shoulders and shout “Live your life, woman!!”

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Yong He, who was not even half as intense as our Jing Xuan gege….

Although Mei Li was heartbroken, she got over Jing Xuan gege after a while due to her best friend, Yong He, who had always been in love with her. She, too, was falling in love with him as well. Their relationship differed greatly from Mei Li’s previous experience. Unlike the macho dominant Jing Xuan, Yong He was a laid-back humble guy, who treated Mei Li as an equal. His love, therefore, seemed more sincere.

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And thus, our Jing Xuan gege turned super obsessive and desperate…

Unfortunately, our Jing Xuan gege refused to let Mei Li go. He turned into an obsessive bastard and started bothering Mei Li, forcing her to return to him. Even though Mei Li had stated very clearly that she was in love with Yong He, Jing Xuan refused to believe it. The three of them reached a point of no return when Jing Xuan literally BLACKMAILED Mei Li to marry her, forcing her to leave Yong He.

It was interesting to note that Jing Xuan tried his best to break his engagement with his betrothed, Su Ying. However, since the betrothal was granted by an Imperial decree, he could not get out of it because it would signify that the Emperor’s words carried lesser value. He accepted the fact that he had to take Su Ying as his first wife and Mei Li, the love of his life, had to accept the rank of a second wife. However, he decided that he would hold the wedding ceremony with Mei Li first, as he wanted to spend his first wedding night with her.

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Literally… the Blackmail Wedding of Mei Li and Jing Xuan

It was sweet in a very disturbing manner. I felt bad.

However, Jing Xuan really earned my hatred when he discovered that Mei Li did not bleed after their first night. From then on, he deemed Mei Li as an impure woman and was convinced that she had slept with Yong He before marrying him. Which really angers me. I mean – what the fuck were you thinking, Jing Xuan?!!! Who the fuck told you to force a woman to marry you? She CLEARLY refused you but you were so persistent anyway. Now, when she failed to exceed your expectations, you got mad??? Are you fucking serious? Can I just slap you in the face? Or anywhere that hurts? You said you loved Mei Li. You NEVER said you loved the virgin her!

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But then, he was a man from the 18th or 19th century. What to do… Virginity of their brides meant the world to them. Haish….

Mei Li’s life turned from bad to worse after she married Jing Xuan. Stuck in a marriage where her husband had always the suspicion of her impurity, she gave birth to a premature child, whom Jing Xuan was convinced was not his but Yong He. Furthermore, Mei Li had to endure endless abuses from her mother-in-law and Su Ying, the first wife who was so bitter and jealous towards her as Jing Xuan clearly favoured Mei Li. See, polygamy never works people. Sharing a husband is not a fun thing!20130216133041d6b10

However, from a tormented husband, Jing Xuan evolved to a loving husband and father. Even though he thought Mei Li’s son was not his, he treated him like his own son (but Mei Li’s son was actually REALLY Jing Xuan’s). He cared for Mei Li more than his own life and over the years, they really had a beautiful loving marriage together, marred only by the stupidity and anger of his mother and his first wife.

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The Happy Family

As usual, our Mei Li was helpless. I am not sure what was wrong with her but there was definitely something wrong. When Jing Xuan was away or outstation, her mother-in-law and the first wife would beat her, scold her and treated her like garbage. What angers me is that she NEVER fought back. She did not stand up for herself. She did not say no. She did not try to find justice. Somehow, just because she was the second wife and held the most junior position of a lady in the house, she thought she deserved the abuses as well. Only when her child was treated badly that she begged her husband to interfere. 

What the fuckery is this? For God’s sake, Mei Li, you were a fucking IMPERIAL PRINCESS!! A GEGE!!! GEGE, MIND YOU!!!!! THE EMPEROR PROMOTED YOU!!! THE EMPRESS DOWAGER WAS YOUR GRANDMOTHER!!!!!!!!! WHY THE FUCK DID YOU ACCEPT THE ABUSES SO WILLINGLY??? WHERE THE FUCK WERE YOUR SENSE OF SELF??!!!!!

So, how does the drama end? Are you guys wondering will Mei Li ever stand up for herself? Well, worry no more… Because guess what – she killed herself. In the end, she committed suicide when Jing Xuan was out of the city. Why? Because the rumours of her being an impure wife was widespread. The mother-in-law was going to kick her out of the house. For Mei Li, suicide was the only way to retain her honour. She killed herself to prove others wrong (for the love of God, I still don’t see the connection between virginity and suicide. No, sex and death don’t go together!!).

Jing Xuan blamed his mother and his first wife for Mei Li’s suicide and instructed that if he dies, he wanted to be buried next to Mei Li and his first wife’s burial plot shall be 300 miles away from them. It was a huge insult to the first wife, as the gravestone is considered the eternal home after death in Chinese culture. After a few years, Jing Xuan died a hero during a war and was re-united with Mei Li in the next life.

THE END.

Now…. aside from the great dramatic feelings I gained from this drama, allow me to clarify this – I find no valuable lesson at ALL. I mean… what great lessons for improvement can one take from this drama? How can one be inspired? Indeed…. how can one possibly do that when the main characters are either weak, irrational or completely dependent the notion of love? Like… can’t you guys move on??!!! Not just Mei Li but everyone. The drama really lives up to its title, Desperate Love, as everybody seemed so desperate to love or be loved.

Mei Li was essentially a prisoner in this story. A prisoner of imperial culture, of obsessive lovers, of discrimination due to her Mongolian roots and second-wife status, of the marriage trap, of impurity rumours… so many things chaining her, at times I felt like jumping into my laptop screen and saving her. How can a heroine have ZERO individual improvements in a plot? How can the writer be so evil and heartless? How can you represent a heroine like this… or even the hero…. Where are the evolution from bad to good to better? Why did everything turn from bad to worse to very detestable?

Still, I really enjoyed the drama. Because it had all the dramatic elements that make a series so addictive. It could have been so much more, though. Mei Li in the beginning had so many potentials – outspoken, able and free. She could have been lifted up so high. But all I could see was her fall, which ended in her death.

Damn it, drama, why do I hate to love you so?