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“TV is a writer’s medium”

Abhinay Deo, who was an ad filmmaker before he turned feature filmmaker and who is making the TV series 24, Here is a small chat with the director

On Meeting Anil Kapoor

I met Anil Kapoor at the success party of Delhi Belly. I think he had planned to sign me for 24 anyway because after our meeting, he called me one day and asked me if I was willing to give this project a shot. When we later met, he said he had bought the rights to the Hollywood TV series 24. It was one of my favourite television series and so I said ‘yes’. I believed Indian television desperately needed this series.

Comparison

The Indian version of this series is very different from the Hollywood one, as there are vast cultural differences between Americans and Indians. Their political set-up and family set-up are very different. Here, India is the backdrop.

The Indian Audience Mindset

You can look at every episode as a 60-minute feature film every week. That’s the approach we have towards 24. It will comprise just 24 episodes packed with action and will entertain all kinds of target audiences in India. Since Anil Kapoor plays the main lead, I am sure housewives and kids will also watch it. Mainly, the youth are ready for a series like this.

From Bollywood To Television

I come from an advertising background and have done more than 475 ad films. After that, I did two movies. After 24, I will return to the big screen. With the kind of talent we have today, we need to look at television as a larger canvas. We also need someone to take the initiative. With 24, Anil Kapoor is doing just that and Colors is going all out to support us.

I don’t think working for the small screen is like taking a step down. The TV audience is 600 million people, which is half the population of our country. The feature film audience is much smaller and can never register this number. We have only 10,000 cinema halls in India. Compared to that, 150 million households have television sets. Of course, I am not downplaying the role or scale of cinema; all I am saying is that television is equally important.

A Writer’s Medium

Just as we characterise film as a director’s medium, television is a writer’s medium. That’s why you don’t hear a whole lot about who is directing which show on TV. It’s always about the writers. With 24, we are trying to break the mould on TV. In fact, the quality of our shows is so poor that you’re not curious about either the writers or directors.

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