Swords and Sceptres is co-written, produced and directed by Swati Bhise with Charles Salmon as co-producer. It stars Devika Bhise (who also co-wrote) and whose credits include The Man Who Knew Infinity, Impossible Monsters, The Accidental Husband. British actors Derek Jacobi (Gladiator fame), Rupert Everett (The Importance of Being Earnest and My Best Friend’s Wedding fame), Nathaniel Parker (Stardust and The Body Guard fame) and Ben Lamb (Divergent and Now You See Me 2 fame). Jodhi May (Defiance and Let Me Go fame) plays Queen Victoria. Completing the lineup are Indian actors including Nagesh Bhonsle, Yatin Karyekar , Milind Gunaji , Arif Zakaria and Ajinkya Deo.
Swati designed and custom-made the costumes for the Rani and the character of Nana Saheb (played by Deepal Doshi) with Vidhi Singhania.
Riyaz Ali Merchant created costumes and riding boots for the principal and secondary cast. Opinions were sought from Vikram Gaekwad, India’s leading make-up artist who also designed the Khopa and Marathi and Sanskrit experts like Madhave Apte, the former Indian test cricketer, Girish Murudkar (for the exact style and design of turbans), and Usha Gupte who read and translated many of the Sanskrit and Marathi texts, the primary one being Maza Pravas by Vishnu Godse (a first hand eyewitness to events) in 1890.
On Laxmibai’s look, Swati said, “The character of the Rani has more than 50 made-to-order special design nauvari (the traditional nine-yard Maharashtrian) saris. we researched the patterns prevalent in the era and wove each costume in a process that took over a year. Vidhi, my friend also created custom shoes to match the outfits.”