By RAHUL RAUT
London Mayor Sadiq Khan who is on his official visit to India as part of the ongoing U.K.-India Year of Culture has announced the biggest ever TV co-production between London and India. He revealed that ‘The Far Pavilions’, one of the best-known novels about the British Raj, will be recreated for Television at the budget of £113 ($150 million) as an epic co-production between India and the UK.
‘The Far Pavilions’ will be remade as 30 one-hour drama series and will feature top Indian acting talents. The high-end drama will also include a creative crew of both Indian and British technicians. The project will mostly be shot in India with post-production being handled in London. Beautiful Bay Productions which is led by Indian-based Michael Ward and British-based Colin Burrows, will produce this show.
‘The Far Pavilions’ was written in 1978 by British author MM Kaye. Set during the British Raj, the epic novel tells the story of an English man brought up as a Hindu who falls in love with an Indian princess. According to Wikipedia, the novel, rooted deeply in the romantic epics of the 19th century, has been hailed as a masterpiece of storytelling. It is based partly on biographical writings of the author’s grandfather as well as her knowledge of and childhood experiences in India.
‘The Far Pavilions’ was previously made as a five-hour three-part television miniseries by HBO in 1984. It was directed by Peter Duffell and starred Ben Cross, Amy Irving, Omar Sharif and Christopher Lee. The novel was also adapted to a stage musical, with music composed by Philip Henderson, which premiered at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London’s West End in April 2005.
London has been a popular destination for Indian films for over 30 years and with this latest collaboration, London Mayer Sadiq Khan hopes to make the longstanding cultural ties between the two film capitals more strong. “U.K. and India’s film and TV industries have a long, proud tradition of working together,” he said. “Whether it’s Bollywood hits such as Judwaa 2 and Mubarakan being filmed on the streets of London, or blockbusters like Slumdog Millionaire and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel—British movies filmed on location in India—the creative bond between India and the U.K. is as strong as ever, and one I have been promoting during my Mayoralty.”
“I’m delighted to announce this landmark collaboration on The Far Pavilions. It represents the best of British and Indian talent and sends a clear message to the rest of the world that London is open to partnerships, to collaboration, to creativity and for business.”
Producer Michael Ward said: “Having based myself in Mumbai for most of the last decade, I’m excited to spearhead the Indian end of this international collaboration. It’s the perfect time to take my stage adaptation of Mollie Kaye’s masterpiece much further and deeper into its Indian cultural landscape, and to invite the best of Indian and British talents to contribute towards turning it into a high-end television series authentically written and cast for a global audience.”
Adrian Wootton, chair of Film London and the British Film Commission, added: “From this high-end adaptation of The Far Pavilions to our own microbudget feature The Hungry, the exchange of talent, skills and business between the Indian and U.K. screen industries has enormous potential. This adaptation promises to be a sumptuous spectacle in its own right, but it’s also indicative of how our above- and below-the-line talent can come together to create a production that harnesses everything from Indian locations to London’s world-famous post-production expertise.”