Anil Kapoor's ambitious TV series 24 is set to go on air from Friday, October 4. As the actor prepares for a new audience, Bollywood Hungama catches him in a candid chat. You're promoting your television serial 24 like a full-fledged feature film. How come?
I have a three-way responsibility. Firstly, I've a responsibility towards the channel Colors. They've entrusted with me with the task of creating this show on a level never seen on Indian television before. Secondly, I've a responsibility towards my entire team of 300 people who have all worked very hard towards getting to our goal. I have on board bright young technicians and crew members who have been working relentlessly. They are very excited. You of course are the youngest member of the team
I am forever 24 (laughs). Then finally there is my responsibility towards the original creators of the serial 24 who have trusted me with the job of doing the Indian version of the serial. Because I had worked in the original American serial, they were familiar with my working style. They probably parted with the remake rights only because they know me first-hand. So now you feel doubly responsible?
Yes, I do. It's a huge responsibility. And it's fiction. Unlike other actors who have gone into television I am not doing a reality show. I am not into the show as a guest. I can't afford to go wrong. It's a risk I've taken. The budget for your serial is apparently staggering. Do you think that kind of money is justified on television?
No, I don't think the budget for 24 is staggering. The channels pay obscene amounts of money to buy the rights to telecast new Hindi films. I told my channel Colors that I'm giving them a serial that compares favourably with any big Bollywood feature film. Do you think 24 will have the impact of a Bollywood blockbuster?
Of course it's the viewers who will decide whether 24 is truly what I feel it to be. But my team and I have worked as hard on this show as any feature film, if not harder. My director Abhinay Deo has put in the same effort that did he in Delhi Belly
or any of the ads he has made. You've set aside all your other commitments to work on 24?
Yes, I had to let go of plum film assignments that I'd have otherwise grabbed with both hands. However, the shooting of 24 got delayed. But it was too late to do those roles and I had let go. They cast other actors. Never mind! Because every minute that I put into 24 has been worth my time. What was the toughest thing about making 24?
Putting together the team was the toughest part. I had to get the people who believed in the project as much as I did. Are you happy with the end-results?
I feel somewhere God and destiny were on our side. I got very talented people on board, like Abhinay and his brother Ajinkya Deo, writers Rensil D'Silva, Milap Jhaveri, Niranjan Iyer. And now we are all set for telecast from October 4. And the cast?
It's a dream come true. I am working with one of my favourites Shabana Azmi. She was the easiest to get on board. She had mentioned to me earlier on that if there was anything for her in 24, please let her know. Also my friend Anupam Kher, he agreed to be in the serial straightaway without asking any questions. He came straight on the sets after having travelled for almost 36 hours. He's crazy! So are you!
(Laughs) Everyone on 24 shares the same madness. The material is so terrific. Everyone is enthused by the plot and the characters. I can't tell you the kind of excitement we feel while shooting. I've looked for impossible challenges throughout my career. Whenever I've taken a risk things have worked for me. Initially, many of my projects looked as though they are out of my reach. But they've finally panned out wonderfully. So far so good. I believe you showed footage of your serial to the original 24 makers?
Yes, I did send some of my footage to Los Angeles. The response was phenomenal. In fact they used our footage in Cannes .We are trying to create a product that would be on a par with the international version, though we don't have their kind of budgets. In comparison our budgets are minuscule. But we have the talent and the spirit to compensate for the lack of resources.