Small screen, big thriller

'24' poses a new question to a jaded TV audience.

A week, former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson reportedly said, is a long time in politics. To coin another phrase, 24 hours is a long time on television.

Those who watched Colors on the weekend will agree. In one hour on Friday, Anil Kapoor and his team answered a question that has been hanging fire over Indian TV for a decade, at least: can we produce world class entertainment that isn't held together by petticoat strings? Yes, we can. Watch 24 (Colors).

You'll disagree, say it's not an original but the Indian franchise version of the American show, 24. Sure, but it does precisely what a good "copy" should do: it adapts to its new surroundings, namely Mumbai which has never seemed more sinister, dark and dangerous on TV before can't remember seeing any daylight between the first two episodes, just enough grey light to illumine people struggling within the confines of an office, a home, a cinema hall, a car or even of the mind.

You'll say the storyline is trite, a mish-mash of politics and police chases a la Bollywood: Agent Jai Rathod and his anti-terrorist squad race against time to prevent an assassination attempt by one "Yakub" (stereotyping here?) on a young prime ministerial hopeful from a famous political family (any resemblance to the Gandhis must be entirely deliberate).

When last did you see an Indian political thriller like this on television? And how positively daring to take aim at the first family of Indian politics, albeit in a drama, at a time when they are in the eye of many political storms in real life?

How refreshingly different, topical, to have a plot on the most challenging contemporary issue terrorism that too in Maximum City, ra-ther than on women waging war against women in the kitchen? A plot that seamlessly threads together many subplots, etching out clearly defined characters in the space of a few minutes, to create a pattern which, for all the rapid switches, is always intelligible.

... contd.

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