Howard Gordon on the Indian '24' and Why a Local Version of 'Homeland' Could Work
Anil Kapoor is the Indian Jack Bauer in the hit adaptation of the terrorist-fighting action series, which is currently shooting its second season.
Producer Howard Gordon didn't know what to expect when 24, the ground-breaking Fox series that won him his first Emmy for best drama series in 2006, was picked up for adaptation by India's Hindi-language network Colors, with Bollywood star Anil Kapoor (Slumdog Millionaire) as Jai Singh Rathore, the Indian Jack Bauer, fighting terrorism against the clock.
But after the first series was a runaway hit — Colors' own figures show 11.9 million people watched the show's debut episode in 2013 and 11.7 million caught the first season finale — and the show was renewed for a second season, Gordon decided to fly to India for the first time.
On location in the west Indian city of Vasai, Gordon spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about what he's learned from watching 24's first-ever adaptation and why he thinks some of his other hit shows — Homeland or Tyrant, say — could be ripe for a local makeover.
"Actually, it was Anil Kapoor's idea [to remake 24]," Gordon says, noting that the Indian actor brought it up while appearing on the final season of the U.S. show in 2010. "He said that it could really work in India, and I thought it was a great idea. When I got the DVDs of the first season of the Indian version, I can't tell you how excited I was to watch it."
"It was like raising a child and then handing it over to another set of parents," says Gordon. "I think one of the challenges for Anil was to take an iconic character like Jack Bauer and make it his own, which he did."
Kapoor acquired the remake rights to 24 via his Anil Kapoor Film Company banner, which produces the Indian show. 24 was one of the few Indian adaptations of a drama series. The majority of international imports are local versions of game shows or reality TV formats.
Gordon says he's been impressed with the approach of the Indian production team, which chose to do block shooting for the series, filming all scenes from a particular plotline together. This contrasts with the U.S. version, where two episodes of the series were shot back-to-back. "It was a lot of pressure," says Gordon, adding that wrapping one season and immediately jumping into the next was a "nightmare." He says he is looking to adapt the Indian block-production approach for Showtime's Homeland, which he also produces.
Encouraged by the success of 24, Gordon thinks some of his other shows also have remake potential for the Indian market. "Tyrant and also Homeland could work here," he notes.
The fourth season of Homeland featured Indian talent — actress Nimrat Kaur (The Lunchbox) and actor Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi) — and is part of a growing trend of Bollywood stars crossing over to Hollywood, such as Priyanka Chopra toplining ABC's Quantico or Deepika Padukone co-starring alongside Vin Diesel in the action franchise reboot xXx: The Return of Xander Cage.
"I am actually surprised that there isn't more [Indian talent going to Hollywood]," says Gordon. "I also think that as content is distributed more globally, perhaps it will create more opportunities for talent interactions. I think it's important. You know, art humanizes and politics dehumanizes."