Bringing back the Kohinoor

Express News Service

There is an internet meme doing the rounds for a while which claims that if every item in the British Museum in London were to be returned to its original owner, the museum would be empty. An upcoming fact-meets-fiction heist series plans to bring back India’s most famous and undoubtedly the dearest diamond—the Kohinoor—which currently resides in The Tower of London. Titled The Diamond, the international series is a collaboration between Bobby Bedi of Contentflow Studios, Jay Galla of Amara Raja Media & Entertainment and Rahul Aggarwal of Star Entertainment.

“The Kohinoor is in itself a very interesting story. Different myths have attached themselves to the reality of the gem making it more mysterious. Using fiction as a means of storytelling is what makes it accessible to millions of people, bringing it to a much larger audience,” explains Bedi. Currently, in the developmental phase, the trio is negotiating with different OTT platforms to bag a good deal.

Once that is sorted, they shall start shooting the action-adventure-packed series in India, Britain and various other exotic locales in Asia and the Middle East. The fascinating story around the 106-carat diamond shall weave together its various myths and legends with the Mughals, mobsters and the most ingenious of criminal masterminds peppering the plot. From Alauddin Khilji, Shah Jahan to Ranjit Singh and members of the British Royal family, the diamond has had a tainted journey. It is believed to have brought bad luck to any male who dared wear it.

To bring all this together on screen is a talent pool that includes English actor-writer Charlie Higson, known for creating the 10-part Jekyll and Hyde TV series and writing the Young Bond novels. He is joined by Indian-born British writer Farrukh Dhondy, who wrote the comedy TV series Tandoori Nights (1985-87) and screenplay for Mangal Pandey: The Rising (2005). British film and television director Colin Teague (Doctor Who) shall be directing The Diamond. Only an ensemble like this could make Bedi get back to the film world after almost a decade.

In between, another project that called out to him is a series on Phoolan Devi, which takes off from the 1994 Shekhar Kapur-directed Bandit Queen, which Bedi had produced. The movie, which won three National Film Awards, portrayed how Devi was raped by upper caste men and dacoits, and later became an outlaw and took revenge by killing them. She later gave up arms in 1983 and turned to politics and activism, before being assassinated in 2001.

“The plan is to have three seasons, showcasing her prison term, entry into politics, the assassination and possibly also an investigation into her death,” says Bedi. It shall be directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia, who was part of the original film as a casting director and the lead character shall be played by Tannishtha Chatterjee.What would be interesting to see is how the investigation part of the series talks about Sher Singh Rana, convicted in the murder of Devi, and who after his release from jail in 2016 also started a political party.

In popular culture

Agatha Christie’s 1925 novel The Secret of Chimneys features the Kohinoor, which is stolen from The Tower of London by a French thief

Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond (published by Juggernaut in 2016), written by Anita Anand and William Dalrymple, traces its journey and demystifies its colourful past