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Porus debuts on Sony tonight; Danish Khan deconstructs its making

Sony Entertainment Television is all set to premiere its mega historical show, ‘Porus’, today (November 27, 2017) at 8.30 pm. Promoted as the first global series coming out of India, ‘Porus’ is written and directed by Siddharth Kumar Tewary, Founder and Chief Creative, Swastik Productions. In a first of sorts, the IP rights for ‘Porus’ rests with Tewary and not the broadcaster. 

The show will depict the untold story of the greatest conqueror of the world, Alexander, and the most spirited defender of India, Porus. Set in 350 BC, the story will trace its roots and history to a time when India was at its glorious best and a time when Porus resisted the first attack on Indian soil by Alexander. The show will present the chronological narrative and will trace the journey from birth to the epic battle of these two legendary warriors born on the same day but raised with completely different upbringing. 

The lavishly produced serial has been shot extensively in Thailand. The makers chose Thailand so that they could show viewers the water-transport route. A huge set has been constructed in Umbergaon, Gujarat, where the bulk of the shooting is taking place. According to industry reports, the show is being made at a budget of Rs 500 crore. 

In conversation with Adgully, Danish Khan, EVP & Business Head, Sony Entertainment Television, speaks about what makes ‘Porus’ unique, on letting the show’s producer retain the IP rights, the marketing strategy and more. Excerpts: 

What makes ‘Porus’ such a unique show?
We have been preparing this show for the last two years. A lot of investments have been done upfront. For this show, we have given the IP rights to the producer. His skin is in the game. This is a first-of-its-kind model on Indian television and we also believe it to be the future of Indian television. When the production house and the creative people get the IP, they put their own investment, passion, hard work and their lives into the show, and something spectacular does happen. We have seen television in the US evolve because of such entrepreneurial creative minds and we believe in Siddharth (Kumar Tewary, Founder and Chief Creative, Swastik Productions). We believe that it is a model that we will see more of in the future. 

Since the IP is with the producer, how challenging does it become for the broadcaster? 
I think if you want different results you can’t do the same thing. If you want to create a global product made in India, it requires a certain amount of investment and that’s not only money. Had it only been about the money, Sony would have funded it. It’s about passion and creative energy, and that comes with a certain amount of skin in the game. So, we have a creative producer who is accountable, responsible and I think it will get reflected on the show. 

What is your marketing strategy for ‘Porus’?
Traditional marketing has evolved and today, marketing is not primarily about awareness or about influencing. The most important part of marketing is to create conversation. When people talk, it becomes a part of their daily conversation like in schools, colleges, offices, and kitty parties. So, the big job is to create conversation. 

Our focus is primarily on digital marketing in order to create conversation and one can create conversation not only by providing information and images, but also by creating stories. But the stories have to be genuine. In today’s world, you can claim whatever you want to, but ultimately people want to see what you have created. So, the content becomes the biggest marketing resource. 

For a show of ‘Porus’ proportions, the budget must be significant…
The budget is really massive. Both the production house and Siddharth share the budget. I won’t be able to get into the details in terms of numbers, but perhaps it is one of the most ambitious shows ever made on television. 

What are the other shows in the pipeline for Sony?
We have our original ‘Prithvi Vallabh’ coming very soon. Then we will be launching ‘Dus Ka Dum’ in the last quarter. I cannot say at this moment whether Salman Khan will be hosting the show or not. May be this time someone else will be doing the show. 

When will Kapil Sharma be back on air?
Kapil is very busy right now with his movies, but he is doing some special event on our channel. We believe he has made a great movie (‘Firangi’). He is a great artist and post his movie, he will be back on Sony. 

‘Porus’ is our more ambitious project till date: NP Singh 

NP Singh, CEO, Sony Pictures Networks India, calls ‘Porus’ the network’s most ambitious project so far. Speaking about the various challenges faced in the making of such a big production, he said that in a production of such proportions, the challenge starts way before the shooting commences, it starts right from the classification stage. “The director has to be very clear about the characterisation – their looks, the way they speak and behave, their costumes and hairstyles, the art design and more,” Singh added. 

He also informed that more than 2,000 people are involved in creating an entire township for the show in Umbergaon, where the shooting is taking place. 

Commenting on the IP rights resting with the producer, Singh said, “There is the reason why the IP for this show rests with the producers, it ensures that there is a deeper level of involvement and investment in the show. And this reflects on the quality of the show and the production values.” 

Who’s who in ‘Porus’ 

Kingdom – Paurav Rashtra 

Bamani: The character of Bamani is essayed by actor Aditya Redij. Bamani is the King of Paurav Rashtra and the father of Porus. He is a good and independent leader. He has a set of rules which he follows, some of the actions which emerge out of these rules might not be so ethical. Nevertheless, he stands by them. His elder brother Shivdutt is his weakness. 

Anusuya: The role of Anusuya is played by actor Rati Pandey. She is the princess of Taxila and later marries Bamani and, thus, becomes queen of Paurav Rashtra. She is the mother of Porus. She believes in a united India and propagates this thought. Her other characteristics include being far sighted, patriotic, fearless, strong willed and sacrificing. She is also very intellectual and is patient in getting what she wants. 

Porus /Puru: Porus is played by actor Laksh. He is the main protagonist of the show. Porus is the son of King Bamani and Queen Anusuya and the future king of Paurav Rashtra. He protects India from the invader Alexander. He believes that the country has to pose a united front in order to win the battle. He is fearless and brave, inspirational and strategic. 

Shivdutt: Actor Aman Dhaliwal plays the role of Shivdutt, the older brother of King Bamani. He hates Taxila. He is effeminate, although this is not known to anyone. He is a sadist and loves self-inflicting pain. Manipulative, cunning, fickle-minded and extremely ambitious are the qualities that define him. He is very impulsive in his actions. 

Ripudaman: The role of Ripudaman is played by Hrishikesh Pandey. He is the chief Paurav Rashtra army general and the foster father of Porus. He raises him in the absence of Bamani and Anusuya. He is a noble and just warrior and believes in family values. He is highly patriotic and puts his country before everything else. 

Pritha: Pritha, the wife Ripudaman and foster mother of Porus, is played by actor Ashlesha Sawant. She is a dutiful wife and her son is her weakness. She has a hostile attitude towards Porus and doesn’t really accept him. She is short tempered, sharp witted and has a sharp tongue. 

Hasti: Hasti is Ripudman and Pritha’s son and Porus’ foster brother. He always feels overshadowed by the latter. He has his father’s traits and his mother’s tongue. 

Kingdom – Taxila  Rashtra 

Ambiraj: Ambiraj, who is played by Gurpreet Singh, is the King of Taxila Rashtra. He is the brother of Anusuya and has enmity with Paurav Rashtra. 

Vasundra: She is the wife of King Ambiraj. 

Kingdom – Dasyu Rajya 

Arnayak: Actor Chirag Jani plays the role of Arnayak in the show. He is the King of Dasyus. 

Mahanandini: The role of Mahanandini is essayed by actor Shraddha Musale. She is the Queen of Dasyus. 

Lachi: Lachi, who is played by actor Suhani Dhanki, is the younger daughter of Dasyu king and Mahanandini. She is also the love interest of Porus and later becomes his wife. She is sharp, focused on what she wants and fearless. She is loyal to the Dasyu tribe as well as Porus. 

Sumer: The role of Sumer is played by actor Rishi Verma. He is the oldest son of King Arnayak and Mahanandini and the next king of Dasyus. Sumer doesn’t like Porus. 

Kingdom – Persia 

Darius: The role of Darius is played by actor Praneet Bhat. Initially, he is a trader, who enters India with intentions of invading Indian trade and smuggling expensive products from India to Persia. He is ambitious, shrewd and ruthless. He is really proud of his lineage and looks down on Indians. 

Mausius: Darius’ right hand man, Mausius stays behind in India to handle all activities on behalf of Darius. 

Faruss: Mausius’ son and friend and confidant of Bamani’s younger son Kanishka. 

Kingdom – Macedonia 

King Philip: King Philip is played by actor Sunny Ghanshani. He is the King of Macedonia and the father of Alexander. He is barbaric, ruthless and crude. He is also self-righteous and short sighted. 

Queen Olympias: The role of Queen Olympias is essayed by actor Sameksha. She is the ambitious mother of Alexander. She believes that Alexander is God Zues’ son and always encourages him to be immortal by conquering the world. She is possessive about things that matter to her and is passionate. Her interests revolve around herself and her child. She may also be described as being vengeful and proud. 

Alexander: Actor Rohit Purohit plays the role of Alexander. He is the main antagonist of the show. He started the conquest of world with his army. Once he is reaches India, he faces Porus in battle of Hydaspes (Jhelum). He is invincible, over confident, fierce and ruthless. For him, conquest is the most important thing. He has a win or die attitude and wants to win at any cost.

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