After a wave of saas-bahu shows,and a phase of daily soaps with socially-relevant messages,audiences this month saw the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Indian television. October 4 witnessed the launch of 24,an official remake of the American show by the same name,starring Kiefer Sutherland. Interestingly,this fiction series marked the television debut of Anil Kapoor both as an actor and producer. While film personalities doing TV shows is not new as we have already seen Salman Khan host Bigg Boss or Amitabh Bachchan anchoring Kaun Banega Crorepati,or for that matter Sridevi doing the comedy show Malini Iyer,what set Anil Kapoors 24 apart was that he was the first male star to act on a TV show.
That apart,this is the first time an American thriller has been adapted and remade for the Indian audience. The subordinate cast included well-known film personalities such as Anupam Kher and Shabana Azmi in interesting foreign-style episodic cameos and the storytelling process was close to the original,with fast-paced direction by filmmaker Abhinay Deo (of Delhi Belly fame). With so many factors working in its favour,the obvious question was,Is the desi viewer ready for this? If the ratings are anything to go by,the response so far has been lukewarm. TAM records reveal that 24,in its opening week,got 3134 TVTs (in millions),whereas Colors own show,Comedy Nights With Kapil in that week itself received 4,462 TVTs. In fact,as per Sony TV,CID,which falls in the thriller category,just like 24,received a thumping 7,048 TVTs in the same week.
This is much better than the Anil Kapoor-starrer. One cannot compare a CID with 24. CID is a brand today with more than 16 years of existence, says Vinod Tharani,writer of Life Oks crime series Savdhaan India. On an optimistic note,producer Rajan Shahi,who has made hit shows such as Bidaai,Kuch Toh Log Kahenge,Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai says,Instead of comparing the TVTs,we should be happy that something new has come up on television. One should be excited that broadcasters today are not shying away from experimenting,because if they did,India wouldnt have got shows such as KBC,Satyamev Jayate or 24. I am now looking forward to Amitabh Bachchans finite fiction series,which is set to arrive on Sony TV. Director Abhinay Deo,who is also co-producing the show with Kapoor,is happy for the kind of response it got.
He expects the reception to grow gradually and is even hoping to come up with Season 2 of the series. Says Deo,Things like these take time to get accepted. For example,between all the criticism that the 90s Bollywood feature films were getting,in came movies such as Dil Chahta Hai and Lagaan. These movies were superlative and path-breaking. They too were not successful at the box office,but were highly appreciated by critics,and the same can be seen happening with 24.
A spokesperson from Colors says,the show was largely appreciated by audiences from metros,which,according to them,is an encouraging start and they are even confident that the show in the coming weeks will find its niche even in the non-metros. Explains Tharani,Today we have huge TV sets and HD channels,which give a boost to the entire TV viewing experience. Watching a show like 24 on a 42-inch LED TV is no less than watching a movie in theatre. For the aam junta,Deo,in an earlier interview with Screen had said that the screenplay of his show was worked upon to suit the taste of the mass audience.
Tharani insists that the team should have also looked for a better title. The classes know that 24 is an adaptation of a famous English series but the masses may be unaware that a title like 24 might just attract the metro audience,but it does nothing for pulling in the non-metro segment. So,people easily connect with a CID (or Savdhaan India,Crime Patrol) as the title itself boasts that these shows hail from a crime thriller genre, he says.
The television fraternity feels that gradually the Indian audience will adapt to such shows. Says Deo,I did not expect a change overnight. We should be happy that at least people have started converting to watching such international format series.