A film playing at a TV near you


Indian television has been largely a me-too space where every production house and every TV channel has been trying to replicate the same success story year after year, season after season. Whether it’s still the saas-bahu zone or women’s lib in small towns of the Hindi belt or tried-and-tested reality shows, TV programming in this country hardly surprises you.

Then how does a new TV show, which is genuinely different, pitch itself to the audiences? Especially when the small screen viewers have largely been apathetic to anything that is new and unseen. 24, the new show on Colors produced by and featuring Bollywood star Anil Kapoor, must have faced these major challenges in the run up to its premiere earlier this month.

So what did they do? They marketed it like a movie!

24 is an adaptation of the hit American show 24, which has won loads of Emmy Awards and Golden Globe trophies and has even garnered Best Actor awards for its star Kiefer Sutherland. Kapoor, in fact, played the role of Omar Hassan, the president of a small Islamic country, in Season 8 of the international series and grabbed a lot of eyeballs.

Thereafter he bought the rights of the show and has now produced it under his banner Anil Kapoor Film Co. In the show Kapoor plays the lead, Jai Singh Rathod, the desi counterpart of Sutherland’s character Jack Bauer in the original. The show also stars Tisca Chopra, Mandira Bedi, Shabana Azmi, Anupam Kher, Rahul Khanna and Neil Bhoopalam in important roles and is directed by Abhinay Deo (Delhi Belly).

In what was a first for an Indian TV show, 24’s trailer was launched not on a TV screen, but in theatres, along with the film Madras Cafe. It was a natural integration since Viacom 18 produced the film and they also own the Colors channel. That the Shoojit Sircar-directed John Abraham-starrer was also a political thriller, helped.

In his interviews too, Kapoor has made it very clear that 24 may mark his arrival in TV but he didn’t look at it as a different medium. “I never felt like I am shooting for TV... I felt like I am shooting for a movie,” he said.

The budget for the show is almost like a film, too. While Indian TV shows have hardly spent more than Rs 10 lak on an episode, a 24 episode has cost the makers around Rs 1.5 crore. As Colors CEO Raj Nayak put it: “No one experiments with the fiction format on Indian TV; 24 is the start.”

There are other similar shows waiting to bring the movie experience on Indian television. After Colors’s 24, Sony is planning to bring its own fiction series starring Amitabh Bachchan himself, with maverick moviemaker Anurag Kashyap as creative director.

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