Makers of Indian ’24′ series plot a TV show revolution

Anil Kapoor is the Indian Jack Bauer. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
Anil Kapoor is the Indian Jack Bauer.
Credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images

In a street next to Mumbai’s biggest mall, in a suburb teeming with people even at midnight, is a building that at first glance looks like an abandoned warehouse.

The decrepit exterior hides the set of what may be one of India’s most ambitious TV productions yet: the domestic version of the hit action series “24,” which its makers hope will revolutionize Indian TV.

The Indian “24″ is a novel concept in an industry where daily soaps reign. It will be the first seasonal fiction show on TV, one of the most expensive TV shows ever produced and the first to have a Bollywood star in the lead.

Best known for his turn as the talk show host in Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire,” Anil Kapoor, 53, will be the Indian counterpart of Jack Bauer, the suave police officer who is part of an elite anti-terrorism unit. Kiefer Sutherland starred in the original series.

It is with this mix of Bollywood stardom and the terrorism theme that the show’s makers are hoping to woo Indian audiences.

“We are giving them their star that they love and we are giving them subject matter which is close to them, which is India, patriotism, terrorism, crime, thriller and family emotions,” said director Abhinay Deo. “Where can this go wrong?”

Kapoor, who is also the show’s producer, played a Middle Eastern leader in the eighth season of the U.S. series in 2010 and was convinced he had to bring the “discipline and professionalism” of American television into India.

Aware that they are venturing into untested waters, the show’s makers are paying great attention to detail. The main set or the CTU (counter-terrorism unit) is a replica of the one in the U.S. series, complete with newspaper clippings, Venn diagrams on softboards and huge monitoring screens.

On a recent day, director Deo and his assistants were debating how one of the characters should grip a syringe, attempting several different shots until they were satisfied.

This is unusual for an Indian television show, where the pressure of producing daily episodes often means little thought is given to characters or storylines.

“An international format is only a starting point, the key is how it is adapted to India,” said Shailesh Kapoor, CEO of media insights firm Ormax Media.

If it does work, Indian television may be tempted to follow the West’s lead, sticking to seasonal formats and focusing on smart writing and better production values, they said.

“When ‘24′ becomes a hit, be assured that every CEO of every broadcasting company will be on a flight to L.A. to pick up formats,” said Raj Nayak, CEO of the Colors channel which will air the series later this year, perhaps as early as August.

But it is not going to be easy. Nine of the top 10 fiction shows on Indian television are daily soaps with a crime thriller sneaking in at only No. 10, according to a recent report by consultancy KPMG.

“My audience is the masses — the Hindi heartland,” says Nayak. “They haven’t seen this, for them it’ll be a novelty and something new.”

Still, it’s a gamble, and the show’s makers know they have to get it right the first time. Bollywood star Kapoor, who has starred in more than 100 films in three decades, may not get another chance to prove himself on TV, and chances of a second season are slim if the first doesn’t make the cut.

“You stick your neck out and I have stuck my neck out,” says Kapoor.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Drive charged in fatal hit and run, police…

The NYPD has arrested a man they say is responsible for a fatal hit and run in Manhattan last weekend. Doohee Cho, 33, was hit…

Local

Mayor de Blasio raises minimum wage for some…

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order Tuesday morning that will raise the minimum wage for workers employed by private companies that receive more…

National

3 myths about the working poor

Linda Tirado works to debunk some common stereotypes about the working poor in her new book, "Hand to Mouth."

Money

Lawsuit funding advances: friend or foe?

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Many plaintiffs awaiting resolution of their lawsuit or legal claim often find themselves in a tricky financial…

Going Out

Which NYC restaurant lost its three-star Michelin rating?

A record 73 restaurants in New York City collected coveted Michelin stars on Tuesday as a mix of trendy spots and fine-dining stalwarts underscored the…

Entertainment

Interview: Metro chats with filmmaker Meir Kalmanson, man…

A New York filmmaker hands out smiles to its residents.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 30: 'Selfie,' 'Utopia'…

'Selfie' This modern day take on the "My Fair Lady" story stars John Cho in the Henry Higgins role. Perhaps instead of "the rain in…

Music

Can't-miss weekend events continue to attract the masses

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Earlier this summer, the Firefly Music Festival drew crowds of tens of thousands of people to Dover, Delaware.…

MLB

Mets 2014 report card

The Mets wrapped up their eight straight season without a playoff appearance last weekend. Needless to say, they fell a bit short of general manager…

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

Style

Products that support breast cancer awareness and research

Asics GT-1000, $100 Asics’ third pink collection in collaboration with Christina Applegate’s Right Action for Women includes this pink-accented version of its best-selling GT-1000 3…

Wellbeing

Dr. Marisa Weiss: Where we stand on breast…

As an oncologist and a survivor herself, Dr. Marisa Weiss knows the urgency felt by those diagnosed with breast cancer. Genetic testing has accelerated the…

Wellbeing

Bees' stingers hold new hope for cancer cure

A promising new lead in the search for a cancer cure has turned up in a place that most people naturally avoid. A team from…

Home

Emily Henderson on small space design

Design expert Emily Henderson shows us how to upgrade our cramped quarters.