A series based on Jnanpith award-winning novellist Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy is in the works and will be directed by Shekhar Kapur, the makers announced in a press release on Monday. The series will be co-produced by Endemol Shine Group’s Artists Studio, Endemol Shina India and DoveTale Media.

The trilogy, which comprises Sea of Poppies (2008), River of Smoke (2011) and Flood of Fire (2015), is centred on the British East India Company’s conflicts with China over the sale of opium in the Asian country in the 19th century, which culminated in two Opium Wars. The series will “interweave the lives of vividly drawn characters against the backdrop of the opium wars between Britain, India and China”, according to the press note.

British historian and television producer Justin Pollard will serve as the show’s historical consultant and story editor. Cast and production details are yet to be finalised.

“The story also follows the journeys of indentured labour from India to colonies around the world and tells the intriguing tales of people from India, America and China at a time when modern history was being formed,” Kapur said in the press note. “I’m very much looking forward to collaborating with Endemol Shine in this gripping series that could run into many seasons.” Kapur said Ghosh’s work brought out “the vast epic and emotional tale of opium”.

Lars Blomgren of Endemol Shine Group said in the press note “Our ambition is to create a major high-end franchise for the international market, matching the scale and epic sweep of the Ibis novels. We’re expecting great interest in bringing this to the global audience.”

Kapur’s last film was the American drama Passage (2009). His credits include the Hindi film Masoom (1983), Mr India (1987) and Bandit Queen (1994) and the British titles Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007).