Zee TV has joined hands with Ekta Kapoor of Balaji Telefilms to bring to television screens “Jodha Akbar,” a magnum opus that will capture the royal couple’s journey of love that began with intense hatred.
What started as a marriage based on political power-play evolved into something else as Jodha’s love softened the hard edges of Akbar’s fierce personality and made him a kinder, more compassionate soul.
Head of Content of Hindi GECs Ajay Bhalwankar said, “Our experience with ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’ gave us conviction that viewers are curious to know more about prominent historical figures. It was received extremely well because it was told in an interesting way. ‘Jodha Akbar’ promises to present audiences with Akbar’s journey from being Akbar the warrior to Akbar the Great.
“The show will highlight how it was Jodha’s love that had a calming influence on him, transforming him from a brave warrior to a benevolent king and a better ruler with great appreciation for art, culture and love for his people. The key objective is to highlight to our audiences the power of love and its significant role in making someone a better human being.”
In-depth research into facts and figures, the chronology of events and the depiction of all its characters, minute attention to detail on aspects such as the sets, costumes, jewelry, dialects, diction, traditions and rituals have resulted in an authentic re-creation of the royal lifestyles of the Mughals and the Rajputs.
Kapoor of Balaji Telefilms said, “The story of Jodha and Akbar is an intriguing chapter from India’s history. It speaks of love in the time of hate. Akbar became secular after Jodha came into his life. It is relevant and relatable to present times as well when there is so much need for communal harmony.
“In India, historical serials tend to be more incident-based. But we are looking at the human stories, characterizations that focus on interpersonal relationships, on the politics and how they think and communicate.”
She added that the best thing about history was that sandwiched between incontrovertible facts were areas that were open to perception. “Why was Akbar insecure as a warrior and so suspicious of everyone? It was interesting to explore his mindset,” she said.
Asked whether she saw similarities between the early power and success achieved by Akbar and herself, she sportingly admitted that when such glories come at an immature age, there is always an unwanted change in a person’s psyche. “I, too, was brash, but like Akbar, I learned that relationships were more important,” she said.
India-West asked Kapoor whether she gave more personal attention to the show despite simultaneously overseeing so many movie and television projects. She admitted to some extra personal effort but added that she had a great team in place to look after things.
Kapoor traveled across the country and attended every audition personally to handpick the right actors for the roles of Jodha and Akbar. She had even announced her quest for the perfect faces on social media. In Rajat Tokas, the producer has found the ideal blend of boyish innocence and rugged manliness required of Akbar.
Kapoor said, “For Akbar, I wanted an actor who is a boy-man. Although Rajat has the innocence of a 19-year-old, he is mature as an actor. Akbar was someone who became a soldier and a king at the age of 14, and by 17, he had already won a battle on his own. Rajat is an expert in martial arts and horse riding. So, he was perfect for me.”
Kapoor went through as many as 7,000 audition entries in the course of a nationwide hunt before she gave her final nod of approval to Paridhi Sharma to play Jodha. For Jodha, she wanted someone who possesses the radiance and dignity of the loveliest Rajput princess Indian history has seen.
“I’m told Jodha was someone whose eyes conveyed humility, simplicity, courage and conviction. Paridhi embodies everything I had in mind for Jodha,” said Kapoor.
The ensemble cast of the show includes Ashwini Kalsekar playing Mahamanga, a pivotal mother figure in Akbar’s life who saved him from the clutches of death across many a battle, and Chetan Hansraj as Adham Khan, the mighty son of Mahamanga who has an eye on the Mughal throne.
In the digital space, Zee TV plans to create a virtual historical monument on Facebook giving online users a chance to immortalize their love by inscribing their names, along with those of their lovers, on the monument. The idea is to support the preservation of our monuments by encouraging lovers to write their names on virtual monuments rather than real ones.
The channel will create boards on Pinterest familiarizing viewers with the architecture, monuments, artifacts, clothes and jewelry from the Mughal era. Other activities are also being planned. Zee TV plans to have stalls serving sherbet outside prominent dargahs in Uttar Pradesh as a goodwill gesture on the launch day of the TV show.
The show premieres June 18 and will air every Monday to Friday at 8 p.m. IST.