LONDON - The years of Mahatma Gandhi when he was a shy young man who had yet to become the revered father of a nation are being brought back to life in a historic London pub and other British venues for a new television series.

The producers plan a three-season series based on historian Ramachandra Guha's biographical books "Gandhi Before India" and "Gandhi: The Years that Changed the World".

Sameer Nair, the managing director of Indian production company Applause Entertainment, says that the extended format "much in the vein of (Netflix series) 'The Crown'" allows greater scope than, for instance, the films on Gandhi's life.

"This is really a coming of age story. It's a very rich story that few people know about. You know the man, you don't know the story," Nair told Reuters during a break from filming at London's George Tavern.

The first season, made up of eight episodes, went into production in India at the start of the year and is being filmed in Mumbai and Gujarat as well as Britain.

Directed by filmmaker Hansal Mehta, actor Pratik Gandhi, 44, takes on the title role.

No relation of Mahatma, he has already played his namesake on stage for the last eight years in India.

"Unknowingly, I was prepping for this day," he said.

Despite the preparation, Pratik Gandhi feels the pressure of conveying the great man. His response is to anchor his performance in Gandhi's human qualities.

"He was not a born great person. He was not a superman or superhuman," he said. "All these experiences of his life made him what he became. And those capabilities are there in each one of us."

Director Mehta says the series seeks to engage younger audiences. They could be drawn by the decision to cast British actor Tom Felton, known for his performances in the film adaptations of the Harry Potter books.

Felton plays Josiah Oldfield, who became a friend of Gandhi when he studied law in London.

The actor, 36, said he could not resist the role.

"Clearly the world would look very different without him. To be part of realising why he became the way he became and how his actions were, it was pretty much a no-brainer for me to say 'yes, I'd love to be part of this'," he said.

(Reporting by Hanna Rantala; editing by Barbara Lewis)