Producers of the Telugu TV serial Rani Rudrama Devi, Alind Srivastava and Nissar Parvez explain why period dramas need a rich storyline to go with its technical brilliance in order to connect with audiences
The legendary warrior queen Rudrama Devi of the Kakatiya dynasty was celebrated for her valour. But how many of us are aware of her formative years, her emotional journey and of her hardships as an eight-year-old girl who was brought up as a boy?
Star Maa’s new period drama Rani Rudrama Devi depicts the emotional journey of a little girl before her transition into a fearless leader.
Producers Alind Srivastava and Nissar Parvez, of Mumbai-based Peninsula Pictures, explain over phone that a team from the Star Maa channel had approached them last year with the story pitch. The duo says that there were “so many emotions” to tell about her and the other characters who aid her journey. “We realised the story is not just about the warrior queen,” Alind remarks.
Once the research team finalised the storyline (after drawing references from various books) the project got rolling in October 2020. A set was constructed at Naigaon, Mumbai.
Peninsula Pictures has prior TV experience; two of their shows currently on air are Aladdin – Naam Toh Suna Hoga and Hero — Gayab Mode On, which is telecast on Sab TV, but the Telugu-language serial Rani Rudrama Devi marks their début in the vernacular space. A set was constructed at Naigaon, Mumbaiby mid-OctoberWhile the technical crew including a team of technicians, director Santosh Badal, director of photography Kunal Kadam and costume designer Niyati Pathak from their VFX studio in Mumbai give it the required grandeur and scale, the cultural nuances and Telugu flavour are enhanced by artistes, a language editor and dialogue writer from Hyderabad. The main challenge, however, in a period drama is the familiarity. While it can serve as an advantage, with audiences able to connect to the story easily, the familiarity also brings about scrutiny. “The moral of the story has to be absolute correct. It is the same story being told, but what matters is the way it is presented,” says Nissar.
“Visual effects, colour palette, music and acting will make for a visual spectacle, but only a rich storyline will excite the audiences. The glamour, glitz and technical chutzpah of a historical drama is present but at the heart of Rani Rudrama Devi is the story of a girl. We want our presentation to make the viewers think, ‘Oh, I know the story, but never imagined it like this’,” Alind adds.
Having previously watched the Anushka Shetty-starrer Rudhramadevi (2015), which was also based on the warrior queen, the duo feels that the movie cannot be compared to their TV series.
“We didn’t emotionally connect with the film which we feel we have achieved in our series. Unlike the movie, we are trying to show how Rudrama became what she became. Also, the interpersonal equations between the characters is something to watch out for in our series,” says Alind.
Aladdin and Hero Gayab Mode on Sab TV are their two shows currently on air. With this first historical drama in Telugu, the production house has made its debut in a regional space.
Rani Rudrama Devi airs weekdays at 9pm on Star Maa.