He may have made his directorial debut with romantic drama “Kal Ho Naa Ho,” but filmmaker Nikkhil Advani says thriller is his favorite space as it brings out the best in him.
The 45-year-old director, who made a move into the genre with 2013 film “D-Day,” is making his debut on TV with the Indian adaptation of Gsideon Raff’ Israeli series “Prisoners of War,” on which US drama “Homeland” is based.
“When I made ‘D-Day’ people could not believe that the director of ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’ made this film. I made films like ‘Katti Batti’ and ‘Hero’ and I failed. I then produced ‘Airlift’ and it was a success.
“I thought this is the genre or the space I can work in. It brings out the best in me. I understand it. There is a combination of politics and emotion. And I think I am able to strike a good balance,” Nikkhil told PTI.
Nikkhil says he was offered to helm the Indian version titled “POW- Bandi Yuddh Ke” by Star India post his 2013 spy thriller.
“Post ‘D-Day’, the head of Star approached me saying he loved the film and asked if I can do something for them on television. I was not sure of how I would relate to the formula of television.
“Then they came to me with ‘Hatufim’. But like everyone I had in mind that it’s ‘Homeland’ and I said no as I thought that’s not the way ATS works in India. They don’t have computers, they work on ground level and have real sources like a tea seller. But when I saw the original, I realised it was a global story.”
With 1999 Kargil war as the background, the show is about the emotional trauma the families of the imprisoned soldiers go through.
“I feel anything related to politics, espionage, thriller and suspense needs to be rooted in reality. It was just very fortunate for us that Kargil happened exactly 17 years ago.
“When I watched ‘Hatufim’ I realized ‘Prisoners of War’ is not about the real prisoners. It’s about their families and the way their life changes when they come out of prison after 17-long-years.”
Nikkhil says he decided to come to small screen as he thought he will not be able to do justice to the story in two and a half hours.
“I didn’t have any intention to make a switch to television, I just wanted to tell the story. It’s such a vast story and I thought I won’t be able to do justice with it in two and a half hours. For me it was equal to making 22 films.”
The director says he ensured that he was free enough to work according to his wish and the channel did not force him to include popular television anecdotes.
“I asked the channel people for the assurance that they will not muck around with the show and let me make it the way I wanted to. They agreed to it.
“I enforced just one mantra on my set and TV meetings – Don’t tell me how things work on TV. Tell me how the story should go ahead. I was open to having this conversation. If we stick to the norms of the television than we have lost the battle already.”
Nikkhil, who wishes to direct something similar to “Grey’s Anatomy,” says the lines between big and small screen have blurred significantly as some of the best writings in the world are on television.
“If Bollywood doesn’t open to television now, they are being stupid or extremely myopic. The trend shows that the greatest writing is on television across the world.”
“POW- Bandi Yuddh Ke” stars Purab Kohli, Sandhya Mridul, Amrita Puri, Satyadeep Misra and Manish Chaudhari in lead roles.