Siddharth Roy Kapur’s production house, Roy Kapur Films (RKF) has acquired the rights to ‘The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of The East India Company’ by award winning historian and best-selling author, William Dalrymple, to be adapted into a global series. The banner is set to mount one of the biggest international productions on the duplicitous rise of the British Empire in India.
‘The Anarchy’ was listed by former US President Barack Obama as amongst his Top 10 Recommended Books of 2019. Encompassing a period from 1599 to 1802, it traces the relentless rise of The East India Company against the decline and fall of the storied Mughal Empire. It provides a remarkable account of how a provincial trading start-up, run by thirty people from an office only five windows wide in a nondescript London building, became rulers of an entire sub-continent; in the process establishing the richest and most powerful empire in the history of the world. With colonialism being discussed globally, recounting the history of the British rule in India is now of paramount importance.
Since its release, The Anarchy has received rave reviews from international publications. While The Telegraph said that ‘this history of The East India Company is a tour-de-force’, The Guardian noted ‘the book’s real achievement is to take readers to an important and neglected period of British and South Asian history, and to make their trip there not just informative but as entertaining as an evening of poetry and music in a Delhi palace’ and The New York Times referred to it as ‘a case study in what can go wrong – very, very wrong – when corporate leaders lack a sense of decency’.
Roy Kapur intends to put together a diverse international team of writers and showrunners to create a series that will be pathbreaking in scale and quality. He says, “I believe that stories that are compelling, relevant and authentic have the potential to resonate with audiences across all nationalities and cultures. William Dalrymple’s epic tale of The East India Company is one such story. While a debate rages today around the world about the increasing power of giant corporations and powerful individuals to wield control over minds and nations, what could be more relevant to global viewers than the true story of the takeover of an entire subcontinent by a small trading company! We are delighted to be working with William to bring to life this fascinating tableau of incredible characters, each playing off the other in their quest to exercise dominion over what was then the richest subcontinent on the face of the Earth.”
The author, William Dalrymple, who is also on board as a consultant for the project says, “I don’t think I have ever written a book more obviously crying out to be adapted than The Anarchy and I can’t think of anyone in India better to adapt it than Siddharth Roy Kapur. I’m very excited looking at the initial treatment note, talking about the various ways to bring this book alive and to bring the characters I’ve been living with over the last 6 years onto the screen, so that everyone else can see them in flesh and blood. It’s an incredibly exciting moment and I have high expectations of this project!”