Anil Kapoor is going great guns. After the international acclaim following Slumdog Millionaire, the evergreen star is making his debut on international television with the final season of American series 24. He describes the action drama as "bigger than the biggest" he has done in India.
"This small screen (24) was bigger than the big screen that I have done in India. It was bigger than the biggest that I've ever done," Anil, who played a game show host in Slumdog Millionaire that fetched him international visibility, told IANS in a telephonic interview from Mumbai.
"For example, the scale of every episode was bigger than any of the films I've done in the past. The entire series is worth $125-150 million. I've never done such a big show in my career. It was totally very special," added the 50-year-old.
Based in New York (shot in Los Angeles), the around-$150 million 24 is an action-drama series starring Kiefer Sutherland in the lead as special agent Jack Bauer. The show is presented in the semblance of real time, with each 24-episode season covering 24 hours in the life of Bauer. This is the eighth and final season of the show.
Anil plays Omar Hassan, president of a fictional Islamic Republic of Kamistan (IRK), who visits the US on a peace mission to meet the US president.
"I am definitely the first mainstream star from India to have this kind of job opportunity on television there," he said. "There is a threat to my life and the story begins from there. I play one of the most pivotal leads of the show. I am there in most of the series."
The series premieres Monday in India on AXN. This is the first time 24 will be aired here. It will be shown Monday to Thursday.
So how long was he in US for the show? "I was there (LA) for six months. Basically I was coming and going. I was also shooting a film No Problem in India and South Africa. So in between, I shot two schedules of the film too," he said.
And how was his international experience? "The experience has been very enriching and educative - something which I've never had. It was wonderful and creatively very uplifting. It has given me tremendous exposure. Never in my 30-year career have I got this kind of appreciation.
"It was almost as if I was some kind of ambassador from India and had made a difference to their lives. I was so overwhelmed. I think it went beyond professional respect," he said.
Anil doesn't shy away from conceding too that "it was all because of Slumdog Millionaire ". Rumours are rife that he is keen to move on from the film's success.
Asked about it, he said, "You always have to attach and detach and that is the only way you can create more. I don't get attached to it and start living in past glory. I don't want to do that. I just want to move on and look at the future rather than looking at the past."
Has Bollywood taken a backseat? "No. I can't forget my roots. I am what I am because of that. I have moved on and I'll do that also but I'll keep on doing this," he said.
He is now waiting to know the reaction of his Indian fans to his transition. "There is no transition, because for me it was from big to bigger. But I am curious and anxious to know their reactions. I am waiting," he said.
Anil's future projects include sequels to Race, No Entry, Mr. India and he may star in a Priyadarshan action movie. He is also in talks with Sophia Loren's son, Ben Stiller and Fox Television.