Considered the best novel by Cassiano Gabus Mendes (1929-1993), Which King Am I? it premiered at Globo’s seven-hour mark exactly 31 years ago, on February 13, 1989. What few people know is that the story could have been presented in the 1970s or early 1980s, but it was doubly vetoed by the broadcaster.
Pioneer of Brazilian television and author of Globo’s hit novels from the 1970s, Cassiano presented the idea to José Bonifácio de Oliveira Sobrinho, Boni, then all-powerful of the station, and Daniel Filho, who was one of the leaders of the teledramaturgy sector. But nothing done.
“In 1977, Boni suggested that I speak to Cassiano Gabus Mendes so that he could write the next soap opera at eight. When he was consulted, he was categorical: ‘I want to make a funny story about cloak and sword. A satire’. Ten years later, at the end of the Sarney government, Cassiano proposes the same story again, now for seven o’clock. The success of Which King Am I? , Daniel wrote in his book The Electronic Circus.
In his autobiography, O Livro do Boni, the former director of Globo explained the reasons for the refusal. “I didn’t come across for two reasons: Roque Santeiro had been banned and a comedy slashed at 8 pm would be a recklessness”, he justified.
Persistent, Cassiano made another attempt in 1983, when he ended up writing the unsuccessful Champagne for the eight. The project was only resumed in 1988, after the end of the Federal Censorship – even with the end of the Military Dictatorship, in 1985, the agency continued to act.
The last obstacle to be taken down was merchandising. A soap opera that took place between 1786 and 1789, in the transition from the Modern Age, would have no space for the promotion of products, which was already highly profitable for the broadcaster.
But again, the creative Cassiano managed. “I make the good guy dream about the Beetle. He will find the car of the future much better than the carts. And I make the washerwoman dream about Omo to make her job easier and leave everything white”, she said, in the book Biography of Brazilian Television , by Flávio Ricco and José Armando Vannucci.
Satire of the Brazilian reality
Despite the fact that it was set in the 18th century, the plot of the soap opera was extremely current, blending in with the facts of Brazilian politics at the time (in fact, many of the facts discussed still happen today).
While the government fumbled with countless economic plans, for example, in the kingdom of Avilan, where history was taking place, the government launched an economic package along the same lines and disrupted the lives of its subjects.
At the end of the story, Jean-Pierre declares in front of the people of Avilan: “Nobody is going to exploit the work of the poor anymore. Now I want them to shout at me: Long live Brazil.” It was the first and only time that the name of the kingdom was replaced.
The cast was full of stars: Edson Celulari, Giulia Gam, Antônio Abujamra (1932-2015), Tereza Rachel (1934-2016), Daniel Filho, Marieta Severo, Tato Gabus Mendes, Cláudia Abreu, Natália do Valle, Jorge Dória (1920 -2013), Stênio Garcia, among many others, in addition to luxurious special appearances, such as those of Gianfrancesco Guarnieri (1934-2006), Dercy Gonçalves (1907-2008), Chico Anysio (1931-2012) and the player Roberto Dinamite.
Voted the best soap opera of 1989 by APCA (São Paulo Association of Art Critics), Which King Am I? has consolidated itself as one of the greatest successes of the track in the history of the station, being exhibited again just a month after its original ending, from October 1989, in the Aventura Session.
Between 2012 and 2013, the plot was shown by the Viva channel. Soon, it may be reviewed by Globoplay subscribers.