Chanakya is a gripping and monumental Indian television drama series that delves into the life and times of Chanakya, a renowned 4th century BCE economist, strategist, and political theorist. Originally aired on DD National from September 8, 1991, to August 9, 1992, this 47-part epic production is written and directed by the talented Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi. The series masterfully chronicles the journey of Chanakya, also known as Vishnugupta, from his boyhood to the glorious coronation of Chandragupta Maurya.
Spanning three captivating acts, Chanakya takes viewers on a mesmerizing historical journey:
- Act 1: The series begins with Vishnugupta’s early life in the kingdom of Magadha, where he faces persecution and tragedy, including the untimely demise of his father at the hands of King Dhanananda. This act showcases the circumstances that lead to Vishnugupta’s self-imposed exile.
- Act 2: The narrative unfolds with the invasion of northwestern India by Alexander the Great and his subsequent demise. It delves into the rebellion led by Chandragupta Maurya and native Indian kingdoms against Alexander’s successors. Witness the gripping tale of the Greek invaders’ defeat and the resurgence of Indian kingdoms under Chandragupta Maurya’s inspiring leadership.
- Act 3: The final act brings forth the audacious attack on the Nanda rule in Magadha and the consequential crowning of Chandragupta as the King of Magadha. Experience the riveting events that unfold as the Nanda rule is overthrown, paving the way for Chandragupta’s rise to power.
Throughout the series, Dwivedi astutely portrays the political dynamics between kings and officials of the time. Additionally, he offers a glimpse into the lives of ordinary Indians and the workings of early Indian republics.
Development: Driven by an unwavering passion for history, Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi invested over nine years of meticulous research into Chanakya. His extensive study encompassed more than 180 books, including the renowned Arthashastra. Dwivedi’s desire to connect the past with the present and explore the significance of national consciousness led him to embark on this ambitious project.
Filming: The pilot episode was shot at a cost of INR 1.8 million, with Doordarshan initially approving 26 episodes. Recognizing the exceptional quality of the series, an extension was granted, resulting in a total of 47 episodes. The production team, comprising skilled technicians such as art director Nitish Roy and costume designer Salim Arif, meticulously crafted magnificent sets at Film City, Bombay. The detailed costumes and weaponry, sourced from reputable experts and museums, enhance the authenticity of the series.
Casting: Dr. Dwivedi handpicked a talented ensemble of stage actors for the series. He himself portrayed the central role of Chanakya, while other skilled actors like Pramod Moutho, Suraj Chaddha, Ragini Shah, Ajay Dubey, Arun Bali, Vipin Sharma, and Himanshu Gokani brought their characters to life. Notably, Mitesh Safari, discovered by Dwivedi, delivers a remarkable performance as the adolescent Vishnugupta.
Critically acclaimed and internationally broadcasted, Chanakya garnered significant praise for its authenticity, casting, and grandiose depiction. It received five Uptron Awards, further solidifying its acclaim.