Zee TV slots pre-Independence period drama at 9.30 pm

NEW DELHI: Zee TV is all set to replace its existing 9.30 pm prime time show Qubool Hai with its new magnum opus Ek Tha Raja Ek Thi Rani, which will showcase the lifestyle of royalty in pre-independent India against backdrop of history. Debuting on 27 July, the show will air from Monday to Friday at 9.30 pm.

With this, Qubool Hai will move to 7:30 pm slot, further fortifying the early primetime band.

Zee TV generally spends four to five per cent of the budget of any series on marketing and advertising the show and will do the same this time round too.

Speaking to Zee TV business head Pradeep Hejmadi said that while the amount of money being spent on Ek Tha Raja Ek Thi Rani will be more or less the same as in previous programmes, it may be lower percentage-wise as the budget of the show is much higher.

The show is being presented by Kelloggs and is being promoted across all television channels including the Zee network, and in other forms including newspaper advertisements and hoardings.

What's more, with an aim to pull in a new set of audience comprising mainly the youth, which is interested in history, Zee is also looking at marketing the show aggressively on the digital medium.

Talking about the show, Hejmadi said, “Even when it comes to genres such as history and mythology, a most fascinating period that remains unexplored by Indian television is the pre-Independence era. This vibrant period of India’s history that saw a great upheaval also saw intense drama unfold in the lives of the royalty of the princely states. Behind empty walls of grandeur and fake displays of splendour was hidden the truth of erosion of wealth, insecurities, succumbing to British dominion, depression and bankruptcy. Ek Tha Raja Ek Thi Rani is a story of love set against this most interesting canvas. It aims to give viewers an up close and personal view of the lifestyles and some of the most closely guarded secrets of the rich and royal of the 1940s. It is a work of fiction that draws inspiration from the lives of the royalty of that period.”

Referring to why the series had history as a backdrop and not as the main peg, Hejmadi said, "Today’s generation is aware of history in terms of the Quit India movement etc. but not so aware of the way the royalty of the time lived and their mysteries. There has been an increased interest from the younger generation in the country’s history, and so the backdrop of the show had been placed in history amidst the World War and the freedom movement even though the story has been based on a fictional love story."

Hejmadi admitted that in view of the high budget on the series and opulence of the sets, the ad space had been sold at a premium rate. 

The show has been produced by Sphere Origins' Sunjoy and Comall Wadhwa along with Nilanjana Purkayastha.

Since the series is based in the 1940s, a replica of a grand palace was constructed by 300 workers in a space of 19,000 sq ft and the entire work from sketches to actual set had taken over six months.

Sunjoy said, “The idea has been to look back at a glorious period of history for inspiration and churn out a timeless masterpiece that will entertain and enthrall TV audiences. The most daunting task at hand has been the re-creation of the pre-Independence era and the majestic lifestyles of the kings and queens of the princely states. Enormous research has gone to ensure authentic representation of the era and to create magic on screen. We have on board an ensemble of extremely impressive actors who beautifully fit the parts they are playing. The show will definitely turn out to be a clutter-breaker and hopefully, the biggest fiction show of the year.”

Producer Wadhwa said that great effort had been made to not just create the ambience, but use the kind of apparels, jewellery, cutlery, vehicles and art work amongst other things from that era. 

Wadhwa added that the show was set against a fascinating backdrop of the lifestyles, motivations, hopes, aspirations, insecurities and the mysteries that shroud end the Indian royalty of the 1940s.

The show's cast includes Siddhant Karnik and Dhrashti Dhami in title roles, Anita Raj, Surekha Sikri, National award-winning actor Darshan Zariwala, Moon Bannerjee and Akshay Anand.

The grand palace constructed on the outskirts of Mumbai for Ek Tha Raja Ek Thi Rani is one of the most expensive sets in the history of Indian television. The palace has a façade inspired from the famous Baroda Palace and is also, currently, the only waterproof set for a TV show.

Additionally, the cast and crew has also shot extensively in the palaces of Rajasthan.

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