24 season two: Make way for Anil Kapoor's Olympic feat on Indian television

Weekends are getting more couch-potato friendly now thanks to Anil Kapoor's 24

Gayatri Gauri August 10, 2016 14:25:29 IST
24 season two: Make way for Anil Kapoor's Olympic feat on Indian television

Anil Kapoor and his character, Jai Singh Rathore of the 24 series (Hindi), have one thing in common. Both are racing against time. It’s an old joke now that Kapoor is turning the clock backwards with his youthful looks. His agile, million-voltage energy can easily make him the brand ambassador of Red Bull.

Leaner, fitter and rugged in his Rathore avatar in 24 Season 2, Kapoor wears an intense and inscrutable look as easily as he grins, rolls his lips and booms a loud 'Jhakaas'. If his younger Lakhan could make his fans dance to the tune of ‘1,2 ka 4…’, his older Rathore’s intense eyes alone can keep you rooting for him in 24.

24 season two Make way for Anil Kapoors Olympic feat on Indian television

Anil Kapoor in '24' season two. Youtube screen grab.

Rathore and Kapoor have another thing in common. If Rathore is India’s most patriotic officer, Kapoor is the country’s most dedicated actor, doing his best to change the regressive Indian television scene both as actor and co-producer, risking big bucks to make the most expensive show in India.

It’s the kind of TV space in which, just seconds prior to the 9 pm show on Saturdays, you see women possessed by spirits (in Kavach..Kaali Shaktiyon Se) screaming, crying, even dancing  to “kaate nahin katte yeh din yeh raat” (funnily, Kapoor’s Mr India song) and getting constantly flung around in their bedrooms. Both the woman (Mona Singh) and the evil spirit (Sara Khan) incidentally are fighting over a man. And oh, since there has to be a saas like vamp in soap sagas, there is also the spirit’s mother (Ashwini Kalsekar) flashing her large, contacts lensed eyes with more venom than Ekta Kapoor’s most popular snakes and naagins.

Given that kind of television content, it’s a huge relief that the adaptation of the original thriller, 24, has come back with a tighter and slicker second season. Shot like a film, with production scales matching International standards, the second season, like the first, is driven by a terrific star cast.

The first season was impressive not just because of Kapoor’s presence but also because Neil Bhoopalam, Tisca Chopra, Pooja Ruparel (where has the delightful girl from DDLJ been?), Anita Raj, Mandira Bedi and Shivani Tanksale kept one engaged, with their individual story tracks and performances.

Season two, which starts three years from where the first one ends, promises to make up for the flaws in the first, namely the villain. While season one relied on small conflicts within the ATS team and missed out on the larger picture; this time, the show has bigger and better villains played by strong talents like Sikander Kher and Ashish Vidyarthi. Besides them, Sakshi Tanvar and Ronit Roy, popular faces on TV have been roped in to clearly get the regular TV audiences in.

In the story so far,  Jai Singh Rathore (Anil Kapoor), former head of Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) is on the run again. This time he is even more mysterious and unstoppable.

Last season, he was considered a threat to Aditya Singhania--the future Prime Minister’s (Neil Bhoopalam, pleasant and controlled) life.  And now, after having proved his loyalty and losing his wife (Tisca) while saving Aditya from three assassination attempts, he is back from an alcoholic rehab.

His son, Veer Singh (Akshay Ajit Singh) hates Jai as he holds him responsible for his mother’s death. His daughter, Kiran (Sapna Pabbi) seems to be in danger again, like the first season.

24 season two Make way for Anil Kapoors Olympic feat on Indian television

The official poster for 24 Season two. Image from Facebook.

Incidentally, the suggested violence shown through pictures in Kiran’s neighbour’s house, has a shocking amount of adult content. Clearly, the makers including the team of directors (Rensil D’Silva, Abhinav Deo) and the writers (Rensil, Bahavani Iyer, Udayan Bhat, Niranjan Iyengar) are staying as faithful as possible to the original series created by Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran, replete with its real time format following several simultaneous tracks, freezing at climatic points on split screens.

Till episode six, so far, we see Bhoopalam back as PM, once again suspecting Jai Singh of turning traitor. There is a deadly virus threat set by the drug-lord brother Haroon (Kher, amusingly cliched) demanding the release of his jailed terrorist mastermind brother, Roshan Sherchan (Vidyarthi, brilliant) jailed by Jai.

The first episode ends on a note when Jai himself is out to help Sherchan escape. The twist is good enough to keep you hooked all over again. The episodes are full of long jail sequences with Jai fighting off jailors as well as criminals, in order to help Sherchan escape. Meanwhile, Sakshi Tanwar as Malik, the new ATU chief, takes charge of the situation.

Tanwar sounds too flat as a tough cop giving orders and only comes alive when she transforms into the helpless, caring mother of a mentally challenged child. The actress who really holds attention in both the seasons, is the marvelously dignified Anita Raj as her personal and political dynamics with her son (Neil) gets more fascinating.

24 Season one, with its right combination of family emotions and twists, had ended on a dark note of betrayal and death. Season two seems to be getting darker and grittier. Weekends are getting more couch-potato friendly. Hopefully, the compelling plot and Anil Kapoor’s sincerity alone is enough for 24 to compete with the daayans and naagins in the Soap Olympics.

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