The Empire is an 8 part web series based on Alex Rutherford’s ‘Empire of the Mogul’ novels. It covers the events of the first book — ‘Raiders from the North’ — that traces the journey of the first Mughal emperor, Zahīr ud-Dīn Muhammad Babur as a King from Fergana who beats the Delhi Sultanate.
It is a classic tale of royal succession at the cost of everything. The series has been created by Nikkhil Advani and directed by Mitakshara Kumar.
The series opens with Umar Shaikh (Khalid Siddiqui), whose kingdom at Fergana is suffering from the threat of an imminent attack by Shaibani Khan (Dino Morea). Umar Shaikh is a good hearted benevolent king with feeble military might and it is all but certain that he will lose Fergana to Shaibani. Babur (Kunal Kapoor) is his 14-year-old son, who he teaches to be kind like himself.
Umar Shaikh’s mother is Aisan Daulat Begum (Shabana Azmi) who is disappointed with the weak nature of her son and fears that Babur will also become a weak leader under his father. Before the attack, Umar Shaikh dies in an Earthquake which makes Babur the new king of Fergana.
Upon becoming king, Shaibani challenges Babur to fight for the kingdom. Babur decides to take the fight to Shaibani and leaves Fergana to lay siege to Samarkand where his forces are unable to enter the city. However, with the help of Qasim (Imaad Shah), Babur finds a secret tunnel into Samarkand and enters the city.
Babur knows that his forces are no match to Shaibani’s and accepts defeat. He offers the throne of Fergana to Shaibani in exchange for his family’s safety. Aisan Daulat Begum is disappointed at this display of weakness by Babur that cost him his family’s empire.
In Samarkand, 6 years later, Babur and Shaibani are still enemies with Shaibani laying siege on Samarkand, not allowing it to trade which leads to famine-like situation in Samarkand and Babur realises that he will have to act fast. Qasim helps Babur to find the traitor inside his palace and becomes Babur’s confidante.
Once again Babur accepts defeat before fighting and strikes a deal with Shaibani wherein Shaibani will get Samarkand in exchange for the safety of Babur and Babur’s family and he will leave Samarkand forever. Shaibani agrees to the deal on the contingency of Babur leaving his sister Khanzada (Drashti Dhami) behind. Khanzada agrees to this.
Babur and his family leave Khanzada behind and wander in forests without a kingdom. Khanzada resists Shaibani’s advances in the beginning but soon begins to develop feelings for him and they end up getting married. While Babur fights battles with small towns to build an army to fight Shaibani and get his sister back.
The Shah of Persia, invites Shaibani to accept his patronage and rule Samarkand on his behalf which he refuses to do. Babur upon knowing this, sides with the Shah and with the help of his forces, defeats Shaibani Khan. However, due to the trickery of the Shah, Babur does not become the King of Samarkand and becomes king of Kabul instead, by marrying the princess of Kabul, Gulrukh (Sahher Bambba).
18 years later in Kabul, Babur’s sons have grown up and he has Humayun (Aditya Seal) from his first wife Maham and Kamran is the son of Gulrukh. Aisan Daulat Begum, on her death bed, reveals to Babur, an important truth about his father’s death.
Enraged by this disclosure, Babur decides to grow his kingdom even further by winning Hindustan and defeating Ibrahim Lodhi. Humayun and Babur fight side by side and win against Ibrahim Lodhi while Kamran rules Kabul. Once Hindustan is won and Babur’s kingdom shifts to Delhi, the battle of succession between Humayun and Kamran begins.
Babur now has to decide who will be the King of his beloved Hindustan.
What happens to Babur? Will Humayun die at the hands of his stepmother Gulrukh? What role will Khanzada play in the succession of the throne? How will Babur choose between his sons? Who will become king?
Here is The Empire ending explained in detail :
At the Babur’s coronation, he is expected to announce his heir and he asks for a fortnight’s time to make his decision. Babur is conflicted and cannot choose between his sons, who he loves dearly. While Humayun proves his mettle as a fighter, Kamran’s nature reminds him of his father Umar Shaikh and he believes that Kamran will make a good king.
He seeks the counsel of his sister Khanzada to help him with the decision. Khanzada tells him that he has to choose Humayun as Humayun is a strong leader and will ensure the survival of the empire, whereas Kamran is weak.
Babur sees himself in Kamran’s place where he was also earlier seen as a weak king and therefore the decision becomes too difficult for him. Babur decides that he will divide the kingdom between both Humayun and Kamran so they can both be king. Khanzada rejects this proposition because this will break up the empire.
Babur’s 1st wife Maham who is the mother of Humayun, advises Babur to make Kamran king or else his family will fall apart. She tells him about the discontent in Gulrukh’s heart.
Babur meets Humayun and asks him whether he will choose the sultanate at the cost of his brother and Humayun refuses. At that moment, it seems Babur has all but decided to make Kamran king as he knows that Humayun will accept whatever he decides and this way will keep the family together too.
But before the fortnight time is over, Babur falls sick and dies and is not able to convey his decision to others.
At the battle of Panipat, Humayun gets badly injured and is recovering from his injuries when the coronation is supposed to happen. Gulrukh, upon realising that Babur will make Humayun king, decides to kill the latter.
She attains a poison to give to Humayun which is said to have no cure except death. She rubs the poison against Humayun’s injury and his health begins to deteriorate. Suddenly, one day Humayun loses consciousness and does not wake up again.
The doctors begin to lose hope as nothing seems to be working and Humayun continues to get worse. Khanzada suspects Gulrukh’s hand in the events surrounding Humayun’s health and issues a declaration that except the King and Queen, no one can visit him.
Kamran, who is actually close to Humayun, begins doubting the sincerity of his relationship, after he is refused permission to visit Humayun. When it is all but certain that Humayun will die, members of the household, turn to god to help him.
Babur prays day and night for Humayun’s deliverance and suddenly on one fateful day, Humayun regains his consciousness while Babur falls sick and dies.
When the fortnight time is over and Babur is on his death bed, Gulrukh instigates Kamran to announce himself as king while his opponent remains weak. But Khanzada stops this and tells that only Babur will choose his heir.
Khanzada reprimands Kamran for his attempt to stage a coup while his father dies. Kamran retorts aggressively and she sees that Gulrukh has finally gained complete control over Kamran and he cannot be allowed to become king. This is because it will repeat the story of her father and her grandmother, and they will lose Hindustan forever.
On his death bed, we see Babur saying something in Khanzada’s ears and Khanzada looks visibly disturbed by this revelation. She realises that Babur wants to make Kamran king.
After Babur’s death, She calls the court and informs them that Babur has left his will in the Baburnama where he chose his heir and he has also told her about his decision.
At the end of the episode, we see Khanzada hiding the Baburnama and understand that she played a trick and Babur left no such will. Khanzada announces that Babur has chosen Humayun to be the next king of Hindustan.