How did you decide on adapting 24 for Indian TV?
I played Hassan, president of the fictional Islamic Republic of Kamistan, in the original show. During the shooting in Los Angeles, when I began reading the script, I was immediately hooked to the character of Jack Bauer, an officer with the fictional counter-terrorism unit. I’ve never felt so close to any character. I couldn’t put the script down. Bauer was fighting for national security and I felt like this would really resonate with Indians. So, I approached Howard Gordon, 24’s executive producer, for talks of an adaptation. He said we could go ahead only if I reprised Jack Bauer’s role. And that’s how Jai Singh Rathore was born.
What were your biggest hurdles in Indianising the show?
There were challenges at every step of the way. People asked me why I was pumping in so much money to adapt a show that was being ripped apart by the critics there, when I could make one with a similar concept. But I wanted to be morally correct, and give credit where it was due.
How did you zero in on the director?
Since this was the first time that the show was being made in a language other than English, pressures, especially to assemble the right team, were high. After a long process, a team comprising Rensil D’Silva, Bhavani Iyer and Priya Pinto were roped in to pen the script. Although I had a few other names in mind as well, but Abhinay (Deo) was a big fan of the original, and that really clinched the deal.
Did you have to water down the original concept for Indian audiences?
Everyone felt the original series was too dark, and since the show starts at night, we had to tweak the aesthetics and light settings. Also, the twists and turns were completely different. The writing team had frequent consultations with Mumbai top cop Rakesh Maria, while officers from the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) were also present during script narrations, lending authenticity.
What is the latest on Season 2?
It will go on air in the first half of 2016. The scale of hard work is akin to, in fact more, than is invested in a film. 24 is the beginning of a paradigm shift on Indian TV. We’ll see what happens in five years.
From HT Brunch, January 10, 2016
Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch
Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch