24 is bang on target

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By Jhakkaas! why 24 is poised to be a desi tv game changer Priyanka Roy Is 24 the best thriller you’ve seen on Indian TV? Tell t2@abp.in
  • Published 9.10.13

It’s a big step for Indian television that could well turn out to be a giant leap. Last Friday, the Indian version of 24, the crime thriller based on the American series that has aired eight seasons so far, beamed on Colors. And didn’t disappoint.

Produced by Anil Kapoor and starring the My name is Lakhan man as Anti-Terrorism Unit chief Jai Singh Rathod (Kiefer Sutherland played the original as Jack Bauer), 24 India has turned out to be an edge-of-the-seat watch over the two episodes aired on Friday and Saturday. And impressed us enough to bill it a potential game-changer.

Just like the original, 24 operates on a one-hour format with all events being recorded in real time. The series opened with Kapoor’s Rathod celebrating wife Trisha’s (Tisca Chopra) birthday by cutting a midnight cake with daughter Kiran (Sapna Pabbi). Then, an urgent call from the ATU (Anti-Terrorism Unit) for our man to rush to office immediately. As Rathod leaves for work, Trisha nags him about not having enough time for his family and Kiran takes off in a huff to party with a friend.

The viewer is then immediately thrown into the dynamics of another family — the Singhanias. Aditya Singhania (Neil Bhoopalam), a strapping man in his 30s, is about to be sworn in as the country’s youngest prime minister, a chair held by his late father who was assassinated four years ago. His mom Naina (Anita Raaj) is the controlling matriarch. Sounds familiar? There’s more. Aditya has an older sister Divya whose husband Vikrant is a loutish drunkard and has taken advantage of the political clout of his in-laws for his own financial gain. Get it? No prizes for guessing! There’s even a Varun Gandhi prototype thrown in to spice up the conflict.

Cut to Rathod making his way to the ATU to be told by second-in-command Nikita Rai (Mandira Bedi) that there has been a tip-off about a plan to assassinate Aditya Singhania. Even as he is groping for clues to foil the plot and looking for ways to outsmart a cocky R&AW head honcho, Rathod’s daughter is kidnapped by the criminal outfit that is out to assassinate the PM-elect.

Penned by Rensil D’Silva, the man behind films like Rang De Basanti and Kurbaan, and directed by Delhi Belly maker Abhinay Deo, 24 has scored for its gritty plot and Kapoor’s convincing portrayal of a renegade agent.

Though a carbon copy of the first two episodes of Season One, 24 is unlike anything one would have seen on desi TV before. Grippingly narrated, frenetically filmed and well acted, the show has won a lot of fans within the first week itself. Like Arundhati Ghosh, a 24 and Jack Bauer fan, who was “pleasantly surprised” by the Anil Kapoor show. “Like the original, 24 didn’t give me a moment to think. The production values in terms of set design and camera work were also of an international standard,” said the software professional.

Also, a big thumbs up to its well-chosen cast. Every actor fits perfectly into his or her role, with a special mention for Mandira Bedi’s Nikita, Neil Bhoopalam’s Aditya and Tisca Chopra’s Trisha.

The starry cameos — Anupam Kher was bumped off within the first two episodes — are also a plus. The 12-week run of the show will witness special appearances from Shabana Azmi, Rahul Khanna and Gangs of Wasseypur actress Richa Chadda.

The one big negative? Some of the dialogues (written by Milap Milan Zaveri) are a little too cheesy. Sample: Anita Raaj going on and on about how “yeh politics hai, khel nahin.”

But give us this over Ekta Kapoor and her bahus any 24-hour day.

Taut plot
Convincing acts
Top-class production values
Minimal ad breaks
Cheesy dialogues