Bridgerton Showrunner Says Kate Sharma's Story Includes Inspiration from a Real Life Indian Queen

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Photo credit: LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX
Photo credit: LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX

Kathani "Kate" Sharma was a perfect heroine for season two of Bridgerton. Played by Simone Ashley, Kate's character offered a much-needed jolt of South Asian representation to the all-too-white period genre—and Kate's enemies-to-lovers romance with Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) was full of smoldering looks and sexual tension.

While fans of the show wait for news of Bridgerton season three—don't worry, Kate and Anthony will be returning—showrunner Chris Van Dusen is revealing new insight about season two. In an interview with Teen Vogue, he shared that their backstory for Kate featured inspiration from real-life Indian royalty.

"In our story, Kate and Edwina’s father worked as a respected secretary for a royal court back in Bombay. And so Kate and Edwina grew up in this courtly environment amongst royals who, in our minds, were a bit more progressive," Van Dusen explains. "We actually used a figure named Baiza Bai as our model."

Per Feminism in India, Baiza Bai was a Maratha Queen of Gwalior. She belonged to the Scinida dynasty, and after her husband, Daulat Rao Sindhia, died in 1827, Baiza ruled for six years. Notably, she opposed the East India Company's presence in the continent. She was eventually ousted from power by her adopted son, Jankoji Rao Scindia II.

As Van Dusen recounts, Baiza Bai "was this queen who was this adept horse rider, she sat astride like the men did, never side saddle, she was this masterful swordswoman and also someone who could handle a firearm." One story recorded by Welsh travel writer Fanny Parkes recounts Baiza leading troops into battle "with a lance in her hand, and her infant in her arms."

Van Dusen continues, "We thought about what a figure like that would mean to a young girl growing up alongside her and with the help of [historical consultant] Dr. [Priya] Atwal, we started to build Kate Sharma’s backstory from there, as a way to understand her affinity for horse riding or the fact that she can shoot just as well as Anthony when she comes to London. All of that was really instrumental in the early stages of building the character that we eventually come to meet as Kate Sharma, Kathani Sharma."

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