L-R: Shekhar Kapur, Preity Zinta, Dibakar Banerjee (Courtesy of International Art Machine)
Global entertainment studio International Art Machine is venturing into India with a heavyweight slate fronted by A-listers Shekhar Kapur, Preity Zinta, Amish Tripathi, Dibakar Banerjee and Suparn S. Varma.
First up is “Shiva,” a series adaptation of Amish Tripathi’s bestselling Shiva Trilogy novels set in the land of Meluha, beginning with the first book “The Immortals of Meluha,” which will be directed by “Elizabeth” and “Bandit Queen” filmmaker Shekhar Kapur. Suparn S. Varma (Amazon Prime Video series “The Family Man” season 2) will serve as showrunner and will also direct.
Kapur said: “Amish’s Shiva Trilogy has been India’s great publishing sensation, crossing every age and class. It’s not just mythology, it’s modern storytelling at its best. Lending itself to a beautiful international series.”
Varma said: “The Meluha trilogy by Amish Tripathi is a genre-defining book and has become part of the pop-culture of the country. I loved the reimagining and the world-building. The scale of vision and the ambition of our show visually and emotionally is as huge a task but we want to bring to audiences a vision that has never been seen before on screens.”
Tripathi expressed delight with the team bringing his books to life, describing Kapur as “among the best living Indian directors” and Varma as “one of the finest young writer-directors in modern India.”
The Shiva trilogy will be followed by thriller “The Kitty Party” created by Bollywood star Preity G. Zinta, whose credits include “Dil Se,” “Veer Zaara” and “Kal Ho Naa Ho.” Zinta is also co-owner of Indian Premier League cricket team Punjab Kings.
Zinta said: “’The Kitty Party’ is a female driven murder mystery that moonlights between being a dramedy and thriller. Too early to comment more except that we cannot wait to get started. I’m sure we will have as much fun filming this as we had putting it together.”
Next up is political drama “Gods” from acclaimed director Dibakar Banerjee (“Shanghai,” Netflix’s “Lust Stories” and “Ghost Stories”).
“ ‘Gods’ is an Indian story in a way that it can only happen in India. It centers around the Great Indian Family. The generations. The power play. The family politics,” Banerjee said. “I’m finally getting my secret wish – a family soap that will upend the genre – and channeling some of the best of Indian TV from the eighties and the nineties.”
International Art Machine is backed by former Amazon Studios president Roy Price who resigned from his position in 2017 following allegations of sexual harassment. Price now serves as CEO of International Art Machine.
Price said: “The premise of International Art Machine is that we are entering a new peak era for Asian original cinema and television. Everything we do supports that vision. India in particular, with its many people and stories, is poised to be a leader in a new multi-polar entertainment world. I could not imagine a better project to start IAM’s life than ‘Shiva,’ and there is no better dream team to fully realize the potential of Amish’s novels than Shekhar Kapur and Suparn S. Varma.”
“Our goal is to partner with creators across Asia to produce series that will be game changers at home and successfully carry the banner of Asian originals abroad,” Price said.
Heading international television for the company is former VP and development head of Balaji Motion Pictures, Karishma Naina Sharma.
Naina Sharma said: “Melting borders and bringing innovative content to global audiences is at the heart of what we do at International Art Machine. We are exhilarated to be kicking off our journey in India with such a powerhouse of talent and are looking forward to exploring India’s vast array of storytellers and artists across its myriad lands.”
Variety's Naman Ramachandran contributed to this post.