Shekhar Kapur will direct a new drama series based on Amitav Ghosh’s best-selling Ibis trilogy from Endemol Shine Group’s Artists Studio in association with Endemol Shine India and the packaging company DoveTale Media.
The sprawling trilogy consists of Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke and Flood of Fire, set in the first half of the 19th century against the backdrop of the opium trade between China, India and Britain. DoveTale Media initially acquired the rights to the books. Kapur, whose credits include Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, will direct. Justin Pollard (Vikings, The Tudors) is a historical consultant and story editor. The team is working on enlisting a lead writer.
Abhishek Rege, CEO of Endemol Shine India, noted, “We have been focused on developing quality content, not just for the Indian market but something that would elicit curiosity from a global audience. This is the first step in that direction.”
Kapur added, “I have always been fascinated that the drug trade was the engine for the Industrial Revolution. Amitav Ghosh’s books brilliantly bring out the vast epic and emotional tale of opium, from its beginnings in India where it is grown and onto China where it is pushed by drug lords. The story also follows the journeys of indentured labor from India to colonies around the world and tells the intriguing tales of people from India, America and China at a time when modern history was being formed. I’m very much looking forward to collaborating with Endemol Shine in this gripping series that could run into many seasons.”
Lars Blomgren, head of scripted for EMEA at Endemol Shine Group, added, “Our ambition is to create a major high-end franchise for the international market, matching the scale and epic sweep of the Ibis novels. This deal represents our group collaborating at its best, creating an exotic, never-before-seen tale with wide audience appeal. Shekhar Kapur completes the exclusive package and we’re expecting great interest in bringing this to the global audience.”