It was always going to be a daunting task to take a hit American TV show and do an Indian version of it. Because not only did 24 stand apart from the regular saas-bahu serials that dominate the TV scene in India, but — like is the case with all versions — it was obviously going to lead to comparisons with the original.
Yet, actor-producer Anil Kapoor’s decision to bring 24 to India worked spectacularly. The show got people talking, and it was hailed by critics as a show that was refreshingly different. It also raised the bar for other shows. Anil didn’t just take an idea that worked, but the production value was also on par with that of TV shows in the west.
Not surprisingly, 24 won several awards last year, including Best Thriller Programme and Actor in a Lead Role (Jury) for Anil, at the 13th Indian Telly Awards. Abhinay Deo was also awarded Best Director (Thriller) at the same event, and again at the 14th Indian Television Academy Awards.
Ahead of Season 2 of 24 (it is currently in pre-production), Anil looks back at the awards and accolades, and says, "It feels wonderful, as well as humbling to be appreciated by the viewers as well as the TV industry." He adds, "My vision was to ensure that, as in America, Indian television, too, gains as much respectability as cinema. The medium allows writers and actors to explore varied story lines and roles. Until now, mainstream stars in India were only using television as a cash-cow. That is changing now, and I’m thrilled that 24 is a vital part of this renaissance."
After completing the first season, Anil shot for Dil Dhadakne Do, and is presently shooting for Welcome Back. As he prepares to jump back into the character of 24’s protagonist, ATU (Anti-Terrorist Unit) director Jai Singh Rathod, Anil says, "Now that we are actively into pre-production for Season 2, I realise how much fun this journey has been, and how much I’ve missed it. The entire core team, including Abhinay Deo, Rensil D’Silva (writer) and RDP Television are back together."
However, the actor’s plan for television seems to go beyond just 24. He reveals that he’s "working on a couple of other formats for TV. They will still be seasonal, with a set number of episodes per season. I want to explore drama and comedy. The idea, again, is to present something fresh, while retaining the production value and quality of 24."