Humour and heart at the centre of Russell Peters’ The Indian Detective

There’s a definite Beverly Hills Cop vibe to The Indian Detective and that’s a good thing.

Debuting Thursday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, Russell Peters stars as Doug D’Mello, a Toronto cop who stumbles upon a murder case while visiting his father, Stanley (Anupam Kher) in Mumbai. Like Eddie Murphy’s Detroit-raised Axel Foley does in Beverly Hills, Doug finds himself woefully out of place in India, despite his heritage. But his wit and charm—not to mention some pretty decent detective work—woos legal-aid lawyer Priya (Mishqah Parthiephal) as the pair investigate dirty dealings in India that reach back to Toronto and involve twin gangsters Gopal and Amal (Hazma Haq) and real estate developer David Marlowe (William Shatner).

Written by Frank Spotnitz and Smita Bhide and executive-produced by Spotnitz, Lance Samuels, Daniel Iron, Mark Burton, Clayton Peters, Paul Canterna and Russell Peters, the four-episode The Indian Detective isn’t just a vehicle for the Canadian stand-up comedian to mug through. He’s emoting folks, making Doug an interesting and multifaceted character who uses his quips to great effect.

We spoke to Peters about the development, tone and future of The Indian Detective.

I’ve watched the first two episodes and I really enjoyed them.
Russell Peters: Thanks. Episode 3 is really good. I’ve watched all four and Episode 3 is my favourite.

You said, in another interview, that you were leery of the process of being cast in something where you weren’t playing yourself. Why the concern?
It wasn’t that I was leery about playing somebody else. I understand that that’s acting. But, if they want me to tone down myself … you don’t hire Vince Vaughan to be somebody else. You hire Vince Vaughan because of his personality … hence the same thing with me. I’m not putting myself in the same category as Vince, but it’s that kind of thing. I’m me, and people want to see me be me. But, I can be me and be somebody else at the same time.

Doug is an instantly likable character. There are a lot of laughs, but there is also a lot of heart and drama to this show. 
The way I had it planned is that it would have more dramatic moments and then the network wanted it to be funnier. I’ll be honest, I’m glad they went with their instincts over mine because it did work out better.

Were some of the funny lines ad-libbed?
I would say 90 to 95 per cent of those lines were ad-libbed. You can tell because they flow a lot easier out of my mouth than some of the other words.

Can you talk a little bit about the scripts written by Frank and Smita?
Frank and Smita came to my house a few years ago, and we were trying to determine what the direction of the show was going to be. Then they came to us about a year later with the scripts. I had actually forgotten about it by then. I always kept forgetting about it because I was doing other things and said, ‘OK, well, let me know when we’re going to shoot it.’ And then, last year, my brother said, ‘Remember that show? They’re getting ready to shot.’ I said, ‘With who?’ And he said, ‘You, you idiot.’

 

It proves, once again, how long television development can take.
It’s like a teenaged boy’s voice; it takes a long time to develop.

The first episode really immerses the viewer in Mumbai and India overall. You really get a taste of the music, the food, the colours and the vibe. Was that important?
It was very important to me and that was one of the things I kept saying was ‘We can’t fake Mumbai.’ It’s impossible to fake. And, even the times that we did fake it on set, our set designer was amazing because we interspliced the fake Mumbai with the real Mumbai and you can’t tell which is which.

What was it like filming in Mumbai and Cape Town?
Cape Town was the long one, that was two months. Mumbai was only a week and Toronto was two weeks. But Cape Town was amazing. So much fun. We worked six days a week, 14 hours a day, but I still loved it.

Let’s discuss the characters a bit. By Episode 2, it would appear Priya and Doug have a connection. Is there romance by the end of Episode 4?
The second you see Priya on screen, you immediately want to be with her too. It’s the TV world. Where else can a guy that looks like me end up with a girl like that than in the world of TV? Because in real life I don’t think she wanted to stare at me once.

And William Shatner?
Shatner, first of all, is 82 years old. He doesn’t look it at all. He looks like a 62-year-old that says, ‘You want to go and pound some scotch?’ He was so nice, so professional, so cool. We’re filming and he’s doing his lines and I forgot we were shooting a TV show. I’m like, ‘Damn, that guy looks just like William Shatner.’ [Laughs.] He says his line and he’s just staring at me and I’m like, ‘Oh, can I get my line again, please?’ I’m sure he thought I was a complete f–king moron. I got a little star-struck.

The Indian Detective is four episodes. Could there be more?
When you do see Episode 4, we leave it a little open.

The Indian Detective airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

 

 

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and owner of TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.
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One thought on “Humour and heart at the centre of Russell Peters’ The Indian Detective”

  1. It’ll be great to watch Russel Peters AND William Shatner playing Canadians doing this Canadian tv show that will show how much India is a big part of Canada’s Multicultural Mosaic.

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