EXCLUSIVE: Tomorrow Studios, Marty Adelstein’s joint venture with ITV Studios, is adapting for television Polite Society, a modern-day retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma set in contemporary Delhi, based on Mahesh Rao’s (The Smoke Is Rising) forthcoming novel. This will mark the first mixed-language series for the production company behind such series as Snowpiercer and Hanna, as well as their first project set in India.
The news comes amid an explosion of local premium content in many countries around the world, particularly India, as global streaming services like Netflix and Amazon are trying to aggressively expand their reach internationally.
Polite Society tells the story of Ania, the daughter of a wealthy Indian family who aspires to match-make for her friends and family, only to find herself caught up in an unforeseen scandal and an unexpected match of her own. Pairing stiletto-sharp observation and social comedy with moments of true tenderness, the novel travels through the mansions of India’s elite and celebrates the many routes to happiness.
Adelstein and Becky Clements will executive produce the series, with Rao on board as a consultant.
“We are thrilled to be adapting Polite Society in our continued quest to find the most compelling characters and ways to tell their stories for a global TV audience. Mahesh’s novel strikes that rare balance of telling a wholly authentic story, while also feeling universally relatable,” said Adelstein.
“I’m excited to see my written words leap off the page and onto the television screen with Tomorrow Studios and its partnership with ITV Studios bringing this story to an audience worldwide,” added Rao.
Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Rao’s debut novel, The Smoke Is Rising, won the Tata First Book Award for fiction and was shortlisted for the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize and the Crossword Prize. His second book, One Point Two Billion, is a collection of short stories.
Polite Society will be released by Putnam in August 2019 and marks Rao’s first book published in the U.S. Kevin Kwan, author of Crazy Rich Asians, contributed the following book testimonial, “Is it possible to marry a book? Because Polite Society is so funny, smart, sophisticated, and captivating, you just want to spend your whole life with it. It was love at first sight from the very first page and I never wanted it to end.”
Rao is repped by Lutyens & Rubinstein and Casarotto, Ramsay & Associates Limited.