Anirban Roy Choudhury

“This is a fictional series, not a literal translation of The Making Of Star India”: Vanita Kohli-Khandekar

Writing the series could be the biggest challenge, feels the book’s author, talking about the onscreen adaptation of ‘The Making Of Star India'.

The Story Ink, India’s leading book to screen content company, along with Locomotive Global Inc., a producer of premium content, has acquired the exclusive screen adaptation rights for ‘The Making of Star India’. The book is written by well-known Indian media expert Vanita Kohli-Khandekar.

Sidharth Jain, founder and producer, The Story Ink, and Sunder Aaron, co-founder and principal, Locomotive Global, will produce the 10-episode, multi-season scripted drama series. Jain says it will be "akin to ‘Mad Men’ meets ‘Succession’, and set in the roaring rah-rah early days of the Indian television industry of the late 1990s and early 2000s."

The on-screen adaptation will take the audience on a journey through the meteoric rise and revolution of the Indian television industry. Jain and Aaron’s objective is to produce a premium drama series that will be made available to viewers via a global streaming platform partner.

Vanita Kohli-Khandekar
Vanita Kohli-Khandekar

Published by Penguin, the book tells the thrilling story of Indian television through one of its most notable protagonists, Star India. It captures the journey that started with one channel, and how Indian television grew to become an industry with over $11 billion annual turnover.

“This is a fictional series, based on the heady 1990 and 2000 days of Indian television, and not a literal translation of the book," says Kohli-Khandekar. She adds, "The book provides the base material. Then, professional drama writers will try to create what Sid (Sidharth Jain) calls a cross between ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Succession’. So, this series is not about Star."

The producers will rope in writers for the screenplay. Kohli-Khandekar will continue her association as the exclusive industry expert, story consultant, and additional writer. "This whole thing is new to me. So, I guess, I will have to take it as we go along. What they need from me is my understanding of this industry and its functioning in the 1990s and 2000s," she says, adding, “While writing the book, I did think that some of the drama around the Indian television business had possibilities for being put on screen. But, I had no idea that my book would become the vehicle to do that!"

She feels writing the series could be the biggest challenge. "Writing is always the toughest," she says. "Writing it, so that it cuts across countries, cultures, and demographics to touch audiences across the world… to show them the tale of grit, guts, and madness that it is. Think of it, India, the world's largest democracy, was a blank slate, in media terms, in 1991, when Star TV and CNN came in. There was one major national paper and a TV channel. To create a drama series that captures that time, that mood and bring out the flavour of India and a bunch of people trying to build something that nobody can see the significance of, to fill colour into those characters, bring them alive in a gripping series... Those to my mind will be the big challenges, both while writing and filming," concludes Kohli-Khandekar.

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