Jodha Akbar: Ekta Kapoor's & Zee TV's historical romance

They have become the in-thing and they seem to be working just like their cousins - mythological series - are. We are referring to historical shows on television. Following closely on the heels of Sony Entertainment‘s Maharana Pratap which was launched on 27 May 2013, is Zee TV which is set to premiere the old time romantic tale of Jodhaa Akbar on 18 June at 8.00 pm. The story was interpreted on the big screen under the crafty hands of helmer Ashutosh Gowariker, and most lovers of cinema are familiar with that.

Rajat Tokas as Akbar and Paridhi Sharma as Jodha strike a pose

But TV czarina Ekta Kapoor says that "the beauty of Indian history remains open to perception and interpretation." And it was this that encouraged her to take up the challenge of producing the show under the banner of Balaji Telefilms. 

The magnum opus historical will capture the intriguing journey of love that, in fact, began with intense hatred.

How Jodha’s love softened the hard edges of Akbar’s personality and made him a kinder, more compassionate soul forms the crux of Zee TV’s Jodha Akbar which is set to replace Rab Se Sona Ishq.

Balaji Telefilms has churned out shows in all genres such as drama, romance, thriller, horror and even kitchen politics. Jodha Akbarmarks Kapoor‘s maiden encounter with history (if you exclude the disaster that was Mahabharat on NDTV Imagine) and she says she is ready to take any sort of criticism that comes her way."It‘s a huge risk I am taking," says Kapoor. "But I love taking on challenges. Balaji is the premier TV production house in the country and this will be shown through Jodha Akbar."

Santram Verma who has previously directed a thriller drama show titled Kaahin Kissii Roz on Star Plus and has also helmed the movieKrishna Cottage (2004) to his credit will be occupying the director’s chair for Jodha Akbar.

Says Verma: "Viewers will get to see a very strong love story for the first time in a historical show. A similar period drama Jhansi Ki Rani on Zee was a huge success and we expect a similar response for Jodha Akbar as it has a very innovative storyline that will touch the hearts of many."

The brains behind the creative‘s - Sujata Rao

Scriptwriter Rajesh Joshi is penning the epic series, following eight months of research, courtesy Bodhisattva, who is the man behind scores of historicals and mythologicals. Prakash Kapadia, who has written for films likeDevdas (2002), Black (2005) andSaawariya (2007), is writing the dialogues.

Sujata Rao, a master of her art, and of known for her work for Jhansi Ki Rani and Veer Shivaj has been hired to creatively direct Jodha Akbar.

Says Rao: "We are going to be a lot more different and innovative when it comes to creativity of the show. We are penetrating equally into the characters, scenes and inter-personal relationships be in terms of father who is a king and his daughter. How they behave behind the doors, how the father talks to his daughter not being a king, these things are not going to be typical. We have gone into the depth of the history. am sure the show is going to be unique in its own way. With the help of Bodhisattva, we have managed to make a good historical set for Jodha Akbar."

Ekta Kapoor talks about her comeback on Zee with Jodha Akbar

Says Kapoor: "Zee is my lucky mascot. I started my career withHum Paanch on Zee. I followed withKasamh Se a huge success. The story of Jodha and Akbar is an intriguing chapter from India’s history. It speaks of love in the time of hate. It is relevant and relatable to present times as well. In India, history books are more incident-based. But we are looking at human stories, characterisations that focus on inter-personal relationships, politics, how they think and communicate.”

Nearly 11 episodes have been filmed in scenic locations of Jaipur at Sawai Madhopur‘s Nahargarh Haveli (the schedules ran for almost a week) followed by another stint at Kolhapur and finally at the grand ND Studios in, Karjat.

Heavy investments have been put into the sets, with lots of detailing to rightly depict Akbar’s grand ‘Diwaan-e-khaas‘, ‘Diwaan-e-aam palace‘s and ‘Jodha Mahal‘.

Kapoor further reveals that history gives a roadmap, incidents, experiences, various dates, and a broad structure of what happened in the past. To add on further, Ekta says, the creative team has been her strength for it is they who are adding colors to the characters and relationships.

The cast of Jodha Akbar is all set to ‘recreate‘ history

Prithviraj Chauhan fame Rajat Tokas will be playing Akbar, while Ruk Jaana Nahin second lead fame Paridhi Sharma being his Jodha. Ekta travelled across the country and attended every audition personally to hand-pick the right actors for the roles of Jodha and Akbar.

In the young and handsome Tokas, Ekta has found the ideal blend of boyish innocence and rugged manliness required for Akabr, says she. She adds: "He is quite mature as an actor. He is an expert in martial arts and horse riding, so he was the perfect choice for her."

Ekta went through as many as 7,000 auditions during the course of a nationwide hunt before she gave her final nod to the beautiful Paridhi. Other in the ensemble o the show include prominent actors such as Ashwini Kalsekar playing Mahamanga, a pivotal mother figure in Akbar’s life who saved him from the clutches of death on many an occasion. Chetan Hansraj has been chosen to portray Adham Khan, the mighty son of Mahamanga who has an eye on the Mughal throne.

Zeel Head Content - Ajay Bhalwankar

Zeel head content Ajay Bhalwankar states: “Our experience with Jhansi ki Rani gives us the conviction that viewers in India are curious to know more about prominent historical figures. It was a story that was received extremely well because it was told interestingly. The key objective is to highlight to our audiences the power of love and its significant role in making someone a better human being. And on top of that we have a wonderful team consisting between 800 – 1000 who have been working thick and thin for the show. So it will work very well with the audiences at large.”

He further reveals to that the show is going to be the most expensive ever produced for Indian television right from the sets at different locations, costumes, jewellery, weapons and so on.

Zee TV is leaving no stone unturned in terms of marketing and digital activities. The channel plans to create a virtual historical monument on Facebook giving online users a chance to immortalise their love by inscribing their and their lover’s names on the monument.

Moreover, Zee intends to create Pinterest boards, familiarising viewers with the architecture, monuments, artefacts, clothes and jewellery from the Mughal era. To top it all, it will also organise edutainment excursions for school children where they will watch the shoot of the show and be taken on a guided tour of the Jodha Akbar sets that resemble Jodha and Akbar palaces, showcasing replicas of the same.

The channel has tied up with the local Delhi authorities and plans to make the toll booth on the DND Flyover toll-free on 18 June in remembrance of the fact that Emperor Akbar had waived off a pilgrimage tax for all countrymen in his time. Plans are to have stalls serving sherbet outside prominent dargahs in Uttar Pradesh as a goodwill gesture on the launch day.

Jodha Akbar is going to come up against other long-running fiction series like Balika Vadhu on Colors (2.8 TVR) and newers ones such as Anamika on Sony (0.8 TVR) and the upcoming show Meri Bhabhislated to debut on 17 June on Star Plus.

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