The tale of Marthanda Varma is stuff for legends. How he overcame the challenges in the form of opposition from the Ettuveettil Pillamar, how he ascended the throne, strengthened his forces, annexed the states nearby… Bringing the tale of Marthanda Varma alive is Surya TV's ‘Veera Marthanda Varma.' The serial that is on on Mondays to Fridays at 9.30 p.m. chronicles Marthanda Varma's journey from a young lad to his reign as king and his final days. Excerpts from an interview with K. Shankar, director of ‘Veera Marthanda Varma'.

On the show

Colosceum Media Pvt Ltd is a Mumbai based company focussed on television and film entertainment. They wanted to make a foray into Malayalam television and decided to do so through ‘Veera Marthanda Varma.' Sanjeev Sivan is the creative head of the project; the brain behind it.

Show with a difference

Tune into the channels and it is reality shows and tear-jerker serials that rule the roost. We wanted to give the audience something fresh and different. Although the programme is based on a historical figure it has a bit of everything to bring in viewership. ‘Veera Marthanda Varma' has history, romance, drama, fight scenes… Viewers who watch the programmesay it gives them free lessons in history.

Historical figure

As Marthanda Varma is a historical figure, we have to get the facts right. We went through various history books and historical novels. We also met old timers who had tales, mostly legends, of the King. Research is important for such programmes.

Dramatic licence

Without deviating from facts, we have made some changes to the story. History books do not tell you why a person acted the way he did, why he launched a war on a neighbouring state, how he handled trials and tribulations… That is where dramatic licence comes in; you put yourself in the person's shoes and try to relive his journey through the help of history books and such material. You imagine how he would have reacted to a particular situation; make him human. Also the dialogues we have used are mostly Southern Travancore. We could not use pure old Malayalam in the speech as is most likely how the kings and queens of yore would have conversed as it would not appeal to the audience.

Period film

As it is a period film, there has to be a close attention to details in terms of set, costumes and even the actors who don these historical figures; they have to fit the bill of the characters. Thankfully, we have got a good cast. Location shooting is a challenge as you need to shoot at places that have no electric posts or mobile towers peeping in. We finally shot the episodes in and around Chitranjali, Kutharamalika…

Liza George