WHEN the lead actors of Narcos: Mexico — Michael Peña and Diego Luna — made a pit stop in Mumbai while promoting the series on Netflix, they were overwhelmed by Indian culture and food. “I would like to spend a couple of months in India observing little things like how they sit cross-legged or how they make garlands,” said Pena. Luna, too, expressed his desire to return to explore “the richness of India”.
The original Narcos series topped the list of most binge-watched Netflix shows in India last year. Narcos: Mexico was initially meant to be season four of the series. Later, it was presented as a companion series to Narcos and focusses on the ascent of Guadalajara Cartel as Félix Gallardo (Luna) and the birth of the Mexican drug war in the ‘80s. “We have been working on it for a year. The beauty of our job is that we get to tell stories to an audience. I really tried very hard to do the best I could. We have tried to make sure this show is different,” says Luna, whose breakthrough movie was Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mamá También (2001). The actors visited India along with showrunner Eric Newman.
“For the most part of my career, opportunities did not come easily. There was very little money. I feel blessed to be here,” says Peña, who essays the character of DEA agent Kiki Camarena on the show. The American actor was seen earlier this year in movies such as Ant-Man and the Wasp and A Wrinkle in Time.
“There is that thing about luck. A thousand other actors didn’t have this opportunity. Earlier, I had no idea how popular Narcos is as I mainly acted in movies. When I realized its popularity, I thought this might be better than most movies,” says Peña. Now that the line between television and movies is blurred, it’s the quality of the entertainment and material that matters, believes the actor who features next in the movie Dora the Explorer.
Working on Narcos: Mexico changed the perspective of Luna about Mexico, where he is based. “Since the show is set in the ’80s, we had to do our research. I was a six-year-old when the drug war happened. I was 37 when we started working on the show. I reviewed history from a different perspective with nostalgia,” said the Mexican actor.
According to Luna, Mexico is facing a more serious crisis today. “We lived through war for 12 years and violence has erupted in a way that can’t be compared to any dictatorship in Latin America. After watching Narcos, people may wonder where Mexico is today, Luna said.
Luna pointed out that there are many Mexicos that co-exist. “What is worrying me is that with so many things going wrong, we are choosing indifference as a solution. Maybe a series like this can trigger that curiosity about the current situation in Mexico,” he said.