A grand, true royal style launch in the courtyard of a 300-year-old palace, a super confident 13-year-old lead actress and ample publicity - Zee TV is fulfilling every possibility of grabbing eyeballs with its upcoming historical magnum opus show Jhansi Ki Rani, which is going on air Tuesday.
Produced by Contiloe Films, the show is based on the life of Rani Lakshmi Bai, an ordinary girl who went on to become an extraordinary ruler and one of the leading warriors of India's first war of independence in 1857.
While the producers haven't explicitly spoken of the show's budget, the fact that they have set up lavish sets and shot in three different states - Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, is indicative of the sort of the several millions spent in its making.
"We have put up sets in a place near Mumbai, Indore and also shot in Rajasthan. We have shot in almost 8,000 acres of land for this show," Zaidi, who has been writing the show for the past 10 years, told IANS.
The channel decided to go ahead with Jhansi Ki Rani series in 2007. It was launched Tuesday at Chomu Palace, a grand heritage hotel here.
"We wanted to showcase the spirit of Rani Lakshmi Bai to celebrate 150 years of the war of independence as well to commemorate her death. It was her 150th death anniversary last year. So we thought of enlivening consciousness about her," said Nitin Vaidya, business head of the channel.
The show required months of research to get the right look and ambience, informs Abhimanyu Singh, who heads Contiloe Films.
"We had to do a lot of research to recreate an era 1834 onwards. We had to recreate locations, costumes, characteristics, locations, action, etc., and all this required over two and a half months of pre-production. This is definitely the biggest show we have ever produced," Singh said.
The star cast, which includes 13-year-old Ulka Gupta and veteran actress Aruna Irani, is another plus point for the show. Ulka, who was earlier seen in shows like Resham Dankh and Saat Phere, exudes confidence to match the valour of young Jhansi Ki Rani.
Ulka, who came to address the media atop a horse, has specially trained in horse riding and sword fighting to make her part look authentic.
With this show, Zee TV is hoping to hop to the top slot in the game of Television Rating Points (TRPs).
According to a source, the channel is also set to cash in on another big ticket show 12/24 Karol Bagh, set entirely in and on New Delhi. It is expected to go on air towards the end of the month.