Wiip Nabs ‘Immortal King Rao’ Novel to Adapt for TV (Exclusive)

Author Vauhini Vara’s acclaimed debut novel, The Immortal King Rao, is being adapted for television.

Independent studio Wiip (Mare of Easttown, Dickinson) has acquired rights to the novel — which made several best-books-of-2022 lists — and will develop it as a TV series. Playwright and screenwriter Madhuri Shekar is set to adapt the story and will serve as an executive producer.

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“I worked on this novel for 13 years, during which I often fantasized about the onscreen version I’d get to watch one day: how big and dramatic and genre-twisty I imagined it would be,” said Vara, a former business editor at The New Yorker, in a statement. “That this is actually on its way to happening — and with a dream team of colleagues whose work I so admire, including the visionary Madhuri Shekar at the writing helm — could not be more exciting.”

The Immortal King Rao follows an Indian entrepreneur who, in the near future, becomes the most accomplished tech CEO in the world and eventually the leader of a global, corporate-led government. In a future in which the world is run by the Board of Corporations, King’s daughter, Athena, reckons with his legacy — literally, as he’s given her access to his memories, among other questionable gifts.

“We’re thrilled that Vauhini has entrusted us with this riveting, visionary global thriller, and we couldn’t be more excited about Madhuri adapting,” said Wiip’s Josh Stern. “We’ve been fans of Madhuri’s for years — as soon as we read the novel, we knew it would be great in her hands.”

Added Shekar, “I’m beyond excited to help bring Vauhini’s audacious novel to television. This is a story that tackles climate change, late-stage capitalism and the surveillance state through a beautifully complicated father-daughter story, one about hope and hurt, estrangement and redemption. I can’t wait to dive in and adapt this uniquely global, cross-cultural, ambitiously epic tale.”

The Immortal King Rao is the latest acquisition for Wiip, which late last year snagged rights to the culinary/media satire The Lemon. The studio is also behind Prime Video’s The Summer I Turned Pretty and upcoming series The White House Plumbers at HBO and Bodkin at Netflix.

Shekar’s screenwriting credits include the 2020 Amazon/Blumhouse feature Evil Eye, the forthcoming Sister Act 3, HBO’s The Nevers and Netflix’s The Three Body Problem. She has also written the plays A Nice Indian Boy (which is being adapted as a feature by Levantine Films), House of Joy and Queen.

Shekar and Vara will executive produce The Immortal King Rao with Wiip’s Paul Lee, Stern and Gabe Fisher; Nimitt Mankad of Inimitable Pictures; and Adam Berkowitz of Lenore Entertainment.

Vara is represented by WME and Writer’s House; Shekar, by APA, Redefine Entertainment and Jackoway Austen; and Mankad and Inimitable, by Stephen Dembitzer of Dembitzer & Dembitzer.

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