More than 30 years after HBO turned it into its first-ever miniseries, the M.M. Kaye novel “The Far Pavilions” is being re-made for television as an epic U.K-India co-production budgeted at £113 million ($150 million).
Beautiful Bay Prods., which is run by Indian-based Michael Ward and British-based Colin Burrows, will make the series. It will stretch to 30 one-hour installments, although no broadcast or streaming partner has been confirmed.
The producers said the project will feature big-name Indian talent and a British-Indian crew. Post-production will be handled out of London by an as-yet-unconfirmed outfit in the English capital.
The 1978 novel tells the story of an Englishman brought up as a Hindu during the time of the British Raj. He falls in love with an Indian princess in the story, which was previously made for TV by HBO as a 1984 three-part miniseries (pictured) starring Ben Cross, Amy Irving, Omar Sharif and Christopher Lee.
Ward, who has re-versioned “The Far Pavilions” as a play, said the time was right for a new adaptation of the novel. “It’s the perfect time to take my stage adaptation of Mollie Kaye’s masterpiece much further and deeper into its Indian cultural landscape, and to invite the best of Indian and British talent to contribute towards turning it into a high-end television series authentically written and cast for a global audience,” he said.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is in Mumbai as part of the ongoing U.K.-India Year of Culture. “I’m delighted to announce this landmark collaboration on ‘The Far Pavilions,’” Khan said. “It represents the best of British and Indian talent and sends a clear message to the rest of the world that London is open to partnerships, to collaboration, to creativity and for business.”
Adrian Wootton, chair of Film London and the British Film Commission, added that “The Far Pavilions” will be a boost for London, which generates an estimated £1 billion annually in investment from filming and associated activity. “This adaptation promises to be a sumptuous spectacle in its own right,” Wootton said, “but it’s also indicative of how our above- and below-the-line talent can come together to create a production that harnesses everything from Indian locations to London’s world-famous post-production expertise.”
Khan has been pressing the flesh with Bollywood stars on his India trip, including Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Alia Bhatt and Katrina Kaif. Khan noted there is a long tradition of the British and Indian film and TV sectors working together.
“Whether it’s Bollywood hits such as ‘Judwaa 2’ and ‘Mubarakan’ being filmed on the streets of London, or blockbusters like ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ – British movies filmed on location in India – the creative bond between India and the U.K. is as strong as ever,” he said.