After 24, Anil Kapoor keen to adapt other American TV series for regional audiences

Anil Kapoor, star of Slumdog Millionaire and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol as well as Bollywood hits including Welcome and Welcome Back!, was in Dubai on Wednesday, August 17, as part of the promotional tour for the second season of his Indian adaptation of Fox’s smash-hit television show 24 – it seems he won’t be stopping […]

Anil Kapoor, star of Slumdog Millionaire and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol as well as Bollywood hits including Welcome and Welcome Back!, was in Dubai on Wednesday, August 17, as part of the promotional tour for the second season of his Indian adaptation of Fox’s smash-hit television show 24 – it seems he won’t be stopping his adaptations there.

The 59-year-old Kapoor, who is one of the most successful actors in the Hindi film industry, revealed to The National ahead of his appearance before fans at Jumeirah Beach Hotel that he has two new US TV series in his sights.

“I’m doing two exciting films next year, but I will also be adapting Modern Family and Prison Break. It’s absolutely a direction I want to go in as I think there are so many crossovers for these shows between western audiences and those in India and the region.”

If the success of Kapoor’s adaptation of 24 is any indication, he may have a point. The series has just entered season two on Colours TV – Kapoor’s production company secured the rights to remake the US hit, which originally starred Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer. He now takes the lead himself, although Bauer has been renamed Jai Singh Rathod.

Intriguingly, Kapoor himself played a key role in the US version, appearing in 16 episodes of season eight as Omar Hassan, president of the fictitious Islamic Republic of Kamistan. So how did the crossover come about? “I was just in the right place at the right time,” the actor says modestly. “Slumdog Millionaire [Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning, 2008, India-set movie] just kind of fell in my lap. Call it the hand of God. That film happened, and it went massive. While I was doing the press and marketing for that I was at Fox studios and I met [Fox chairman/CEO] Peter Rice through acquaintances. He asked if I’d be interested in 24 and I said ‘done’. I met up with showrunner Howard Gordon and a few months later I was part of 24‘s eighth season for about 16 episodes.”

That may explain Kapoor’s role in the US original, but there was more ground to be covered before the Indian adaptation took place, as Kapoor explains.

“I think the story is just as relevant in India and this part of the world … There are a lot of people trying to harm the peace and harmony of the country. We’ve been going through it in India for so many years, and I thought this show could very easily be adapted to an Indian sensibility.”

His next step was to speak to the show’s US producers, who offered him a conditional deal on the adaptation that he readily accepted.

“I spoke to Howard Gordon about my production company adapting the series – I was going to be, and am, the producer. But his condition was ‘we’ll give you the franchise if you play the lead’. Again, I said ‘done’, and now I’m basically playing Kiefer’s role.”

It’s been three years since season one of Kapoor’s 24 adaptation was first broadcast, and the new series appropriately takes up three years later. The show has already been a hit with crowds in India in the Middle East, and is also screening in further-flung markets including Australia and the UK. Kapoor remains humble despite his show’s success, however.

“I think it would be a lot to ask our adaptation to have the same global success as the original,” he says. “I thought it would be very difficult to adapt, but it’s been exciting and enriching, and, once I got my teeth into it, I just flew and we kept organically educating ourselves to match up to [the original team’s] aesthetic skills and performances and did our best despite limited budget and time.

“I think if you compared our episodes and theirs you would find no less than what the international production has done. I still must give credit to the people who originally conceived it – we’re just adapting, so our job was easy. The scripts were there, the characters were there. It’s much harder to do something from scratch, so I give full credit to them and I’m very grateful to have this opportunity to adapt it.”

• 24 screens on Colors TV on Saturday and Sunday at 9pm

artslife@thenational.ae

Source: art & life

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