Qala, Jubilee, Taj, The Archies: A sneak peek at OTT shows looking through the annals of history | Web Series - Hindustan Times

Qala, Jubilee, Taj, The Archies: A sneak peek at OTT shows looking through the annals of history

May 12, 2023 11:38 PM IST

As period dramas take over the OTT space, experts help us decode the exponential rise of the genre globally.

What is common between Qala, Jubilee, Taj: Divided by Blood and upcoming The Archies? It’s the fact that are all period dramas. The stories might belong to different genres, but they look back at different eras in time to churn out a story.

Recently, Jubilee was the web series which look back at the journey of films in India
Recently, Jubilee was the web series which look back at the journey of films in India

If Taj: Divided by Blood relives the history of the Mughal empire, Jubilee is set in the 1940s-1950s to trace the evolution of the film industry. Tripti Dimri and Babil’s Qala narrates a story of love and passion set in the 1940s while Rocket Boys tells the story of Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha and Dr. Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai. In the West, shows like Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story and The Crown are creating ripples.

“We can’t go back in time, but period drama allows us to do that. And that is working in favour of the genre which is why it is garnering popularity. This was one of the main reasons which got me excited about Jubilee. It takes one to another world,” says actor Wamiqa Gabbi, adding, “The same is the case for the audience as well. Especially in these times, where everyone is running at such a fast pace, period dramas help you slow down and look at life from a different perspective.”

Taj: Divided by Blood actor Ashim Gulati adds, “When it comes to period dramas, the storyline is important. There are multiple layers to the story such as drama, love and politics. It has to do what story you are telling. The story is the winner, and the vision of the maker.”

Actor Aparshakti Khurana, who was seen in Jubilee, shares, “Indian filmmakers have entertained the audience with different kinds of storytelling which is the reason why we have more experimental makers today, and platforms who are giving the liberty, confidence and budget to these makers to make such shows. In fact the trend is also a reflection of the success of shows such as The Crown from the West.”


The director of Taj: Reign of Revenge, Vibhu Puri believes a longer format is the essence here. “OTT gives the freedom to explore the story in a longer format. It allows the audience time to soak into that world, and absorb the charm. It gives them a chance to delve into the world, and relate to it. The stories come from an era which we all have heard about, but never got a chance to see. So, the visual appeal adds to it.”

Talking of visual appeal, The Empire actor Dino Morea adds, “We have heard glimpses of the stories while growing up. When we get to see it visually on the screen, it makes for a beautiful and engaging watch, which keeps the viewers hooked. It is very engaging to go back in time. And the stories are very varied, and touch upon every emotion from highs, lows, deceit, betrayal, love, and lies.”

Up next, there is Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s high scale Heeramandi, and Zoya Akhtar’s The Archies set in the 1960s.

According to Nimisha Pandey, chief content officer, ZEE5- Hindi Originals, it is the escape from reality through period dramas that is attractive for the viewer.

“Whether it’s with the set or the costumes or the visual design, period dramas have always drawn the audiences as they help escape the mundane and the viewers can live a life vicariously of a different era,” she says.


Playing on nostalgia and world-building has rewarded makers handsomely, which is another reason why the genre is becoming a favourite.

Akshay Bardapurkar, founder, Planet Marathi OTT, explains, “Such shows create nostalgia with the way makers recreate the world. There is a pull for the audience which is why it does good business. The budgets are very high. If we are creating something for a Marathi space, it ranges between 4-10 crore, and when it comes to Hindi projects, the crores just adds up. I am also working on several period projects at the moment in the Marathi space.”


With great popularity and demand, come greater challenges. “The biggest challenge is to maintain authenticity of the era, language, costume, art, makeup and look. We have to get it right while trying to weave the story relevant in today’s era. The grasping attention of the audience is very low. We are fighting Instagram, sleep, phone calls, FB notifications. The challenge is to stay true to the era, but make it more contemporary and relatable,” says Puri.

Morea adds in agreement, “We need to get the facts right, especially our history. We don’t have to distort anything. If the makers are adding some fiction element to make it more wholesome, it is important to highlight that clearly.”

Another hurdle faced by the makers if the high budget required to make such shows. “The time and money needed to make a good period drama is always a challenge, neither of it is enough when it comes to making a period drama,” states Pandey.

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