His recent films — Force, Commando, Holiday: A Soldier is Never Off Duty — bear testimony to Vipul Amrutlal Shah’s fascination with men in uniform. Shah is taking his love for the armed forces on to the small screen with his mini series Pukaar-Call for the Hero. Lest we forget his TV credentials, Shah is the brain behind the 1,000 episode daily soap Ek Mahal Ho Sapno Ka on Sony (1999).
The highly charged trailers of Pukaar… look inviting but one can’t help wonder about it’s TRP prospects considering the luke warm response to the other high impact mini series, namely, Anil Kapoor’s political thriller 24 (Colors) and Amitabh Bachchan’s Yudh (Sony). Shah says, he is not worried. His script, penned by Suresh Nair, is in place and so are 16 episodes, making it one of the fastest conceived and shot series.
“It’s about an army man, who is a hero for the world but he isn’t seen as one by his own father. There is a history there, and then there is land grabbing mafia to thicken the plot,” shares Shah, adding how Pukaar is neither like his film, Waqt or Nana Patekar’s Prahaar. “We talk about soaps and series from the US and compare our shows with them. But in India, we are still at a very nascent stage when it comes to a finite series,” he says.
According to him, no TV story can work unless it has a strong emotional beat. Here it’s the beating heart of a patriot and loyal son, Major Rajveer Sheirgill (Rannvijay). He’s happy with his casting. “Rannvijay has an army background, the Roadies experience and a strong youth connect. Raj Babbar has a strong personality and an illustrious 35-year-old career,” he adds. The baddie is the menacing Prashant Narayanan, while Kiran Karmakar will be seen in a twisted role. Another telly debut is that of 1920 actor Adah Sharma. Deven Bhojani makes a return to television direction after nine years.
Shah feels finite series help in maintaining high production standards. “Daily soaps are more about the episode and the number game with the coverage killing the director’s input and creativity. Good directors left television for films because they were no longer in charge, as a result of which, television never produced another generation of great directors,” says Shah, who hopes Pukaar… catapults the director back to the