“Our goal is to produce the largest show in India’s history,” Empire creator, director and executive producer Nikkhil Advani said Tuesday at the Disney+ Hotstar series virtual press conference that premiered on Friday, August 27. This is arguably one of the most ambitious undertakings a streaming TV has attempted in India: depicting the rise and fall of the Mughal Empire. The first season alone took a year and a half, and this is also true during COVID-19. If it lasts long enough, the empire is looking for a legend that spans two centuries, from Uzbekistan in the north to southern India, from the establishment of Babur to the effective end of the Aurangzeb Kingdom. But it does not focus on exact details as it did in history.

After all, Empire is based on the historical novel series Mughal Empire, written by Alex Rutherford (the collective pseudonym of British couple Michael and Diana Preston) and published in six volumes between 2009 and 2015 . Advani pointed out that they are responsible for Rutherford’s book and the large number of fans they have, starting with the first novel “Raiders of the North”. It tells the story of Babur, a young king from the Fergana Valley in Central Asia, and his early struggles in Samarkand and its surrounding areas, which is a major city in Uzbekistan today. Part of “Empire” was filmed in Uzbekistan, and Adwani said he was “very lucky” to go to the place where the dynasty was born.

But the Disney + Hotstar series will not be fully associated with this book. Instead, it will refine its events and arcs, said Imperial director Mitakshara Kumar. She pointed out that Kumar worked under Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Sanjay Leela Bhansali), and she was the only one who produced period dramas of this scale. The scope and conspiracy of the teasing in the Empire trailer made certain parts of the Internet compared to Game of Thrones, although Kumar-only watched the HBO epic fantasy series after filming, and because everyone told her-did not buy them: “You have that kind of character, but it’s more fantasy. I can’t see the comparison. But if you think it looks like, I will humbly accept the compliment. But I’m glad I didn’t see it when I was making “Empire” .”

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Speaking of characters, Empire is drawing pictures for the cast of the first season. Rang De Basanti alum Kunal Kapoor is set as the aforementioned Babur, and he spanned 25 years in the show. Screen legend Shabana Azmi plays his grandmother and king maker Aisan Daulat Begum-given her size, everyone is nervous on set, but it turns out that she is a “cold guy”, Aditya Seal (Tum Bin 2) said Play as Babur’s son Humayun. Then there is Dino Morea, the mainstay of the 00s as the first season villain Shaybani Khan, an Uzbek warrior who clashed with Babur. The cast includes TV series veteran Drashti Dhami as Babur’s sister Khanzada Begum, Sahher Bambba (Pal Pal Dil Ke Pass) as Babur’s third wife and Humayun’s mother Maham Begum.

All the main actors of The Empire praised Kumar for her love and attention to detail in the Hotstar Specials series, and Dhami has pointed out so far that the director has worked harder than her in the role. “Mitakshara helped me early and let me live Khanzada. Every day I go to the studio, I am involved in it,” Dhami added. Azmi likes that the female characters of the Empire are very powerful and hope they “get more visibility” in the industry. Moria, who always likes to think of animals when playing roles, revealed that Kumar gave him the idea of ​​a black panther. He watched National Geographic magazine to study the black panther’s movement-stealthy, agile, fast, and threatening-and hoped to bring this gait into his portrayal of Shaybani.

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“Working with Nikkhil and Mitakshara is like being in two different scenes,” Kapoor said. “Nick Hill has incredible sympathy for his actors, but his shooting style is guerrilla and full of chaos. On the other hand, Mitakshara’s setting is almost like Vipassanā, it is so quiet. They are completely different. Kind of thought.” Azmi interjected. She thought, “This is the difference between a man and a woman. Men look at the big picture, women look at the details.” She explained that Kumar came to her once, as if she had some notes, but Passed by her, and pointed out a detail in the background of the set to an artist. “They formed a very good team together,” Azmi added. In turn, Kumar praised Azmi’s eyes-she asked them to use birds as a reference for clothing so that the two colors would not cancel each other out.

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Mitakshara Kumar, Aditya Seal, Shabana Azmi, Dino Morea, Drashti Dhami and Kunal Kapoor at the Empire event on Tuesday
Image source: Disney + Hotstar

Azmi added that she wanted to preserve the tribal nature of the costume and believed that “if the appearance is correct, it will help the character.” The 70-year-old Hyderabad native played the role of Aisan Dorat because She “always wanted to play a historical figure. She is so funny, a female king maker, otherwise they are usually male. All the conspiracies of the empire are hers.” In addition, Azmi has a soft spot for Urdu. , So this is very helpful. But she is also very cautious so as not to fall into the dramatic atmosphere. Azmi said that for Urdu and period dramas, “You will automatically enter the voice of Mughal-e-Azam. Because you don’t have many reference points. I have to learn dialogue, but I should not be self-righteous. The important thing is not to lose it. The emotions in the characters and scenes.”

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Kapoor believes that screenwriters make their work easier because the script is very detailed and the character charts are very clear. He also praised the “courage” of the crew and Disney+ Hotstar to host a performance of this scale: “I have never participated in such a big event. They filmed the entire city on set, and I was lost.” He focused on himself because it was 25 years apart. The subtle changes between the two versions of the characters—and how Babur felt about himself during that time. He tried to understand the mentality of people living in the 15th and 16th centuries. Kapoor added: “You have to understand their world, their values, and their thoughts.” Morea echoed these words and pointed out that he created playlists for different scenes to blend into the current mood.

Kapoor revealed that Moria and Kapoor did not share too many scenes in “Empire”, but they have a strong hatred as characters. “This show is a rare opportunity in a lifetime,” Morea added.

All episodes of Season 1 of “Empire” will be broadcast on Disney+ Hotstar on Friday, August 27th. It will be in Hindi, Malayalam, Telugu, Bengali, Tamil, Marathi and Kannada.