After reading the scriptwriter's microblog and some spoilers, I managed to put together the above relationship diagram for the upcoming Chinese drama, In Love with Power (Beauties without Tears). Set in late Ming Dynasty/early Qing Dynasty, the story centers on the Qing's founding emperor and his wives/concubines. My initial reaction to the complicated web of relationships is "OMG! What the heck is up with all the one-side love relationships?!" LOL. The only mutual love relationship I know for certain is between Hailanzhu and her first love, Zhuolin. Maybe later, Hong Taiji's infatuation with Hailanzhu will grow into mutual love, and perhaps Prince Dorgon will finally get his love reciprocated by Dayu'er?
For anyone who is unfamiliar with the scriptwriter for this series, she is a student of the famous Taiwanese writer Qiong Yao (creator of Huan Zhu Ge Ge) named Shen Zhining. She also co-wrote a recent TVB drama called Curse of the Royal Harem starring Myolie Wu and Jessica Hsuan, and another Yu Zheng's production called Hidden Intentions/Abandoned Secret.
The story/backdrop of Beauties without Tears isn't very original in Chinese television history. I have previously watched two very famous productions focusing on the life of Dayu'er from her husband's reign (Hong Taiji) to her grandson's reign (Kangxi). So, I'm quite familiar with the general outline of this story. The only thing I found refreshing about Beauties Without Tears is the new focus on Hong Taiji's love for Hailanzhu. Supposedly, Hong Taiji will lavish Hailanzhu with unprecedented affection in this version! Past versions have always made Hong Taiji fall deeply in love with Dayu'er, but her true love remained only Prince Dorgon. Hailanzhu, on the other hand, only acted as a character foil to Dayu'er. After reading the scriptwriter's microblog post on "Hong Taiji falling CRAZILY in love with Hailanzhu," I'm very excited by the fact that Hong Taiji doesn't love Dayu'er anymore. It's her turn to love him this time. Payback time! Muahahaha!
In my opinion, I really don't think the historical Hong Taiji loved Dayu'er at the level it was depicted in past Chinese dramas. I speculate she might have been his least favorite out of the 5 Major Consorts in Mukden Palace. Since Hong Taiji died without leaving a will, Dayu'er's son was only able to become successor after Prince Dorgon vouched his political support. Now compared this situation to when Hailanzhu gave birth to a son; Hong Taiji immediately named him successor. Unfortunately, Hailanzhu's son died in infancy.
Though in history, Dayu'er married Hong Taiji when she was 12 years old while her older sister Hailanzhu married him a decade later, Hailanzhu's rank was only second to her aunt, the empress. She completely outranked Dayu'er. Check out the titles, ranks, and designated palace names of his 5 major consorts.
Middle Palace - Qingling Palace of the Empress, personal name Borjigit Jerjer (Zhezhe), posthumously titled Empress Xiaoduanwen. Highest Rank
Eastern Palace - Noble Consort Chen of Guanju Palace, personal name Borjigit Harjol (Hailanzhu), posthumously title Grand Consort Minhuigongheyuan. Second Rank
NOTE: the name of palace "Guanju" that Hong Taiji bestowed upon Hailanzhu has special significance. Guanju is derived from a famous Chinese love poem in the Classic of Poetry (click here to read). The palace name for the other consorts only bore auspicious meanings.
Western Palace - Noble Consort Gui of Linzhi Palace, personal name Borjigit Namuzhong. She was previously married to Hong Taiji's enemy. After her first husband's death, Hong Taiji took her as his concubine. I think it was a common practice for Mongols and Manchus to marry their enemies' wives, since they were seen as military trophies. Third Rank
Ancillary Eastern Palace - Virtuous Consort Shu of Yanqing Palace, posthumously titled Virtuous Consort Kang Hui, personal name Borjigit Batemazhao. She also previously married to Hong Taiji's political enemy. Fourth Rank
Ancillary Western Palace - Consort Zhuang of Yongfu Palace, posthumously titled Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang, personal name Borjigit Bumbutai (Dayu'er). Fifth Rank
Aforementioned, the first drama I watched about the love triangle between Dayu'er, Dorgon, and Hong Taiji also happened to be my first Mandarin drama. This series is called The Era of the Empress Dayu'er produced by Taiwan CTV in 1991. Dayu'er and Prince Dorgon were the OTP while Hong Taiji became the villain who broke them up.
|Prince Gorgon (the now famous Hong Kong director Derek Yee Tung-Sing) and Dayu'er (Pan Yinzi)|
|Hong Taiji (Sean Lau Ching-Wan) and Dayu'er|
The second version I watched is called Secret History of Xiaozhuang starring Steven Ma Jintao, Ning Jing, Liu Dekai and produced by mainland China in 2002. Again, Prince Dorgon and Dayu'er were the main leads with Hong Taiji being the third party who prevented the "star-crossed lovers" from getting their "happily ever after" ending.
Main Theme Song
On a final note for Beauties Without Tears, we should expect the drama to air this summer, at the earliest. Many of the main actors have already wrapped up shooting and the whole filming process should end in the next few days.
|Prince Dorgon (Han Dong) and Hong Taiji (Hawick Lau) on Hawick's last day of shooting|
|Ah Gula (Sun Jian) and Hong Taiji|
In Ah Gula's eyes, Hong Taiji is his Uncle-in-law, Brother-in-law, AND love rival. LOL.
They're currently shooting the child version of Dayu'er and Hailanzhu
|Child version of Dayu'er|
|Child version of Hailanzhu|
Okay, last piece of goodie! Prince Gorgon coming to Dayu'er rescue!
A cozy moment between Hong Taiji and Hailanzhu
Okay...really one last goodie...By chance I found this Chinese song which I thought sorta suited the whole Mongolian theme of Beauties Without Tear. It's sung by a Mongolian singer.