Directed by Jacob Verghese and Niranjan Kaushik, 9 Hours is written by filmmaker Krish Jagarlamudi and backed by Y Rajeev Reddy and Saibabu Jagarlamudi.
Speaking to Silverscreen India about making his Telugu debut with a series, Jacob, who has previously directed films in Kannada, says, “Krish and Rajeev are good friends of mine and they asked me to be part of this series they were working on. Given that Krish is a fine filmmaker and we mutually respect each other’s work, I didn’t have to think much before taking on the project.”
“This is the first time I am directing somebody else’s script. In the Indian film industry, directors usually write their own scripts. Even if there is a separate scriptwriter, you typically sit down with them and collaborate,” he continues.
Jacob feels the compartmentalisation of writing and directing is a good idea provided the writer’s sensibilities match that of the director’s. “Since Krish’s work is pretty much on the same lines as mine, there were not a lot of creative differences here. I don’t see any harm in only directing. The writer puts in their creativity into a well-written script and screenplay, then an external director can improvise on it.”
9 Hours is set in the 80s against the backdrop of a small town in pre-bifurcated Andhra Pradesh. “It is an action thriller and as the title suggests, the entire story unfolds within a span of nine hours,” says Jacob. “It involves a bank heist that leads to a hostage situation. The series will explore several backstories of the different characters. These include those who attempt to break out of jail, others who are hostages in the situation, and those on the outside such as journalists, police officials and jailors.”
9 Hours is divided into nine episodes, with a runtime of 35-40 minutes each. Jacob notes that the fixed time frames for each episode helps build the tension. He adds that setting the series during the 1980s allowed for creative liberties such as only using landlines as methods of communication, which, in turn, enabled the inclusion of interesting plot twists.
The project went on floors in March 2021 and was wrapped up in early 2022. 9 Hours was shot in sets erected in Hyderabad, with cinematographer Manojh Reddy helming the camera. Rajkumar Gibson Talari was in charge of the production design and the series has music composed by Shakthi Kanth Karthick.
Jacob says that he was originally meant to team up with late actor Puneeth Rajkumar for a film after 9 Hours. “I have a few other scripts that I am working on at the moment, which I may direct in Tamil or Telugu. I am hoping that by the last quarter of this year, production can begin on one of them. The Tamil project I plan to direct will also be a thriller,” he adds, as he signs off.