New Delhi, March 18, 2019:
THE IVORY THRONE ALL SET FOR A SCREEN ADAPTATION
Rights for Manu S. Pillai’s award-winning book have been optioned to Arka Mediaworks, the studio behind the Baahubali franchise
HarperCollins India is pleased to announce that Arka Mediaworks has optioned the audio-visual rights for Manu S. Pillai’s award-winning book, The Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore.
Hailed by readers and the press as one of the most fascinating and gripping slices of Indian history, with its warrior queens and ‘female Maharajahs’, enveloped in the dynamics of a princely court in colonial India, The Ivory Throne became an instant bestseller on publication in the year 2015. It even won multiple awards viz. the Tata Literature Live! Best Debut (Non-fiction) and the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar, and was shortlisted for the Shakti Bhatt prize.
Ananth Padmanabhan, CEO, HarperCollins India said, ‘We’re thrilled that Manu’s magnificent book is now one step closer to finding new life on screen. Manu’s page-turning narration, coupled with the incredible cast of characters makes The Ivory Throne one of the most awaited book-to-screen adaptations from India. We’re also delighted that the book is in the capable hands of the team at Arka Mediaworks who rewrote cinematic grandeur with the Baahubali films and I’m confident we’re going to see an adaptation that’ll be appreciated by viewers all over the world.’
‘We’re excited to start work on bringing the stories and research that Manu Pillai put into his book, The Ivory Throne, to screens. He tells a compelling and unique narrative of an Indian princely state that has rarely been explored or seen on screen before. The stories, culture and traditions from a bygone era can be captivating and engaging to audiences, both in India and abroad. We hope to bring this story to life, and showcase it in all of its glory,’ said Shobu Yarlagadda, co-founder of Arka Mediaworks.
Manu S. Pillai said, ‘I am delighted that Arka has optioned The Ivory Throne, and will summon their phenomenal expertise and creative abilities to try and bring alive this remarkable tale of power and princely politics on screen. Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, the protagonist of the book, was one of India’s most remarkable queens, with a life story that is truly gripping – it is most exciting to visualize her tale on screen, and I look forward keenly to the day this happens.’
ABOUT THE IVORY THRONE
In 1498, when Vasco da Gama set foot in Kerala looking for Christians and spices, he unleashed a wave of political fury that would topple local powers like a house of cards. The cosmopolitan fabric of a vibrant trading society – with its Jewish and Arab merchants, Chinese pirate heroes and masterful Hindu Zamorins – was ripped apart, heralding an age of violence and bloodshed.
One prince, however, emerged triumphant from this descent into chaos. Shrewdly marrying Western arms to Eastern strategy, Martanda Varma consecrated the dominion of Travancore, destined to become one of the most dutiful pillars of the British Raj. What followed was two centuries of internecine conflict in one of India’s premier princely states, culminating in a dynastic feud between two sisters battling to steer the fortunes of their house on the eve of Independence.
Manu S. Pillai’s retelling of this sprawling saga focuses on the remarkable life and work of Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, the last – and forgotten – queen of the House of Travancore. The supporting cast includes the flamboyant painter Raja Ravi Varma and his wrathful wife, scheming matriarchs of ‘violent, profligate and sordid’ character, wife-swapping court favourites, vigilant English agents, quarrelling consorts and lustful kings.
Extensively researched and vividly rendered, The Ivory Throne conjures up a dramatic world of political intrigues and factions, black magic and conspiracies, crafty ceremonies and splendorous temple treasures, all harnessed in a tragic contest for power and authority in the age of empire.
ABOUT ARKA MEDIAWORKS
Arka Mediaworks, founded by Shobu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni in 2001, is a leading name in motion picture production, television programming and digital content distribution. Since its inception, Arka Mediaworks has produced several television shows across languages and channels as well as numerous commercially successful and critically acclaimed Indian films – Maryada Ramanna, Vedam and the Baahubali films are among them.
Currently, Arka Mediaworks is focused on growing the Baahubali brand, India’s largest and most successful tent-pole franchise comprising of films, virtual reality, novels, animated series, and soon, a Netflix Original series; among other projects.
ABOUT HARPERCOLLINS INDIA
HarperCollins India is a subsidiary of HarperCollins Publishers. HarperCollins India publishes some of the finest writers from the Indian subcontinent and around the world, publishing approximately 200 new books every year, with a print and digital catalogue of more than 2000 titles across 10 imprints. HarperCollins India authors have won almost every major literary award including the Man Booker Prize, the DSC Prize, the New India Foundation Award, the Atta Galatta Prize, the Shakti Bhatt Prize, the Publishing Next Award, the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Crossword Book Award. HarperCollins India also represents some of the finest publishers in the world including Oneworld, Bonnie Zaffre, Usborne, Dover and Lonely Planet. HarperCollins India is also the only publisher to have been awarded the Publisher of the Year Award three times: at Publishing Next in 2015, and at Tata Literature Live! in 2016 and 2018.
ABOUT MANU S. PILLAI
Manu S Pillai is the author of the award-winning The Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore (2015), and Rebel Sultans: The Deccan from Khilji to Shivaji (2018). Formerly Chief of Staff to Dr Shashi Tharoor MP, he has in the past worked at the House of Lords in Britain, with Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE DL, and with the BBC on their Incarnations history series. Written over six years and researched in three continents, Manu’s first book, The Ivory Throne won the 2016 Tata Prize for best first work of non-fiction and the 2017 Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar. Manu is also text contributor to Serena Chopra’s Bhutan Echoes (2016), and writes a weekly column for Mint Lounge. His other writings have appeared in The Hindu, Open Magazine, The Times of India, Hindustan Times, and other publications.
Please send any inquiries to Akriti Tyagi, HarperCollins India: Akriti.Tyagi@harpercollins.in