NEW DELHI – Jack Bauer has a new mission: reaching out to India's estimated 150 million TV households. Leading actor Anil Kapoor (Slumdog Millionaire) will portray the Kiefer Sutherland character in the Indian version of Fox's hit 24 show which will air on Hindi entertainment channel Colors by summer 2013. The outlet is owned by Viacom18 Media, a joint venture between Viacom Inc and leading Indian broadcasting group Network18.
The Hindi version of 24 is the first ever adaptation of the show, the India rights for which were acquired from Fox and 24 producer Howard Gordon by Anil Kapoor Film Co. Kapoor had guest starred in the original's season finale in 2010, playing the leader of a Middle Eastern nation. Gordon in April 2010 introduced Kapoor (who is repped by ICM) to Marion Edwards, head of international television at 20th Century Fox, which began a year-and-a-half process to finalize a deal to license the series to Kapoor's production company.
“The Indian Jack Bauer is also constantly torn between the family and the country. He has an army background which we have maintained and the show will have an anti-terrorist cell like the original's CTU (Counter Terrorism Unit),” Kapoor told THR adding, “It will be very real and related to the Indian ethos. Most of the show will be shot on real locations in Mumbai, a city which has witnessed many incidents considering it is India's commercial capital. There will be scenes with hundreds of thousands of people.”
The first season of the Indian version of 24 will be helmed by award winning commercials-turned-film director Abhinay Deo (Delhi Belly). While pre-production has already commenced, the show is eyeing a January shooting date. The show will be penned by leading Bollywood scriptwriter Rensil D'Silva (Rang De Basanti) and supervised by the Colors programming team lead by Manisha Sharma.
While a production budget was not given, Colors CEO Raj Nayak told THR “this is going to be one of our big scale budgeted shows – as big as one of our non-fiction reality shows.” Colors is home to India's Got Talent and Indian versions of Big Brother and Fear Factor.
“For the first time anybody is trying this on Indian TV,” added Nayak. “Also, no major Indian film star has done a fiction show with massive production values. We have a cast of 80-90 people. And its another first to have a show with a season which will have 24 episodes.”
In terms of audience profile Nayak is clear that the show will be aimed at “the masses in the small towns and interiors of India who have not seen the original. Of course, the urban English speaking audiences will obviously be curious and draw comparisons with the original.”
Given the show's production values, Fox will offer expertise and inputs as Kapoor explained: “They have been very supportive and helping us. We will have some production crew coming in from LA for stunts and action. And even the Indian talent is of international calibre. Some of the show's original producers have come over and the idea is to have the same kind of work culture and value systems which I experienced during my stint on 24. This wouldn't have happened without the support of Howard Gordon and Marion Edwards.”