We want to give a cinematic experience with ‘P.O.W.’: Gaurav Banerjee

Star Plus is all geared to launch a new political thriller – Nikkhil Advani’s ‘P.O.W. - Bandi Yuddh Ke’. The finite series, comprising 126 episodes, is slated to go on air in October and is an Indian adaptation of the Israeli series ‘Hatufim’ by Gideon Raff. Incidentally, hit American series ‘Homeland’ is also an adaptation of ‘Hatufim’.

The 1999 Kargil War forms the backdrop for ‘P.O.W. - Bandi Yuddh Ke’. The story revolves around the trauma of the families whose sons/ husbands go missing in the Kargil War and how they deal with it.

Brands like Tiago from Tata Motors and Patanjali Keshkanti have come on board for ‘P.O.W. - Bandi Yuddh Ke’.

In conversation with Adgully, Gaurav Banerjee, President and Head of Content Studio, Star India, shares more details on the upcoming show, what went into the making of the show, adapting it for the Indian audiences, production quality, the challenges involved and much more. Excerpts:

Adgully (AG): The promos for ‘P.O.W. - Bandi Yuddh Ke’ are interesting and it seems to be a unique concept, but complex in terms of storytelling...
Gaurav Banerjee (GB): Indian television viewers are ready for complex storylines. I was personally blown by the concept. Fundamentally, the story is about family and people who are deeply into their families. However, due to some circumstances, they get separated. The show is about how they deal with it and how they start putting things together. Once you get a jolt back, what are your thoughts on reality? These are the deep questions raised.

AG: Being an adaptation of a foreign show, what were the challenges you faced while tailoring it for the Indian audiences?
GB: ‘P.O.W. - Bandi Yuddh Ke’ is based on Israeli drama ‘Hatufim’ by Gideon Raff. It is an official adaption. American show ‘Homeland’ is also an adaptation of ‘Hatufim’. The question is about adapting it properly. The characters, the story and the conflict should seem real and relatable. Nikhil Advani and the show’s writer have done an outstanding job.

AG: How much time did you take for groundwork research and shoots?

GB: We shot for five months before going on air because we wanted our viewers to have a cinematic experience. I believe time has come to give audience a cinematic dimension. For that, we need to give time to technicians to shoot well, composers to render brilliant compositions, and actors to get a hang of their characters. So we provided them with the much needed time. We started work on this show almost two years ago. We met with the original makers of the show and also with Gideon Raff to better understand the concept. Also, a considerable amount of time went in understanding the craft, besides we had to adapt the story keeping in mind the tastes and preferences of the Indian audiences and that took a lot of time with regards to drafting it.

AG: So, all this would make it more expensive than other shows..
GB:  Yes, it is one of the more expensive shows that we have done. And all the areas that I have mentioned earlier are where the money has gone – the music, the technicians, production, etc. We have been shooting since June. We have good actors on the show and we have thought about every dimension. But the big thing is that we have picked up a different story. It is indeed a complex story with complex characters.

AG: Any particular target audience you are aiming at with this show?
GB: It will be aired on Star Plus, so definitely we are looking at a wide audience for this show as well. We hope both men and women watch this show and a large number of people enjoy what they are watching.

AG: The show is being launched during the festive season. How you are planning to gain visibility when everyone is leveraging on such occasions to grab more eyeballs?
GB: That is a part and parcel and happens all the time. We have good content and hopefully enough people will find our story different and interesting from the others. We can do the best that we can do. The rest depends on what viewers want to see and how they want to spend their time.

AG: Star Plus has had a lot of finite series and some like ‘Mahabharata’ and ‘Ek Hasina Thi’ did really well. What are your future strategies when it comes to finite and infinite series? Do you think finite series are the way ahead for Star Plus?
GB: We don’t decide on the number of finite or infinite series. It depends on two things – a) What kind of story it is, and b) how much story is there. ‘Mahabharata’ did extremely well and for that fact, even ‘Sumit Sambhal Lega’ and ‘Tamanna’ did well. But yes, there were a few shows which did not pick up. This is a new thing that we are trying to figure out. This is also a learning process for us as we used to do a lot of long running shows before we ventured into finite series. So we are learning how to write a story and for viewers, too, it is a different experience of watching shorter series. Hopefully, we will get only better as we move ahead.

AG: You had once mentioned that storytelling is something which comes naturally to you. So what is your inspiration?
GB: I would like to put it in this way: inspiration comes from great storytellers with whom we have worked. We got the chance to work with best storytellers. We feel fortunate to work with Ekta Kapoor, Nikhil Advani and Mahesh Bhatt, who themselves are great storytellers. We also got a chance to associate with Ashutosh Gowariker and Aamir Khan. Having said this, there are so many other great storytellers and I feel really blessed to work with them.

- Jigna Shah (jigna.shah1988@gmail.com)


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