Showrunner Eric Newman says the story of “Narcos” can be set anywhere in the world because drug business connects people beyond geographical or political boundaries.
After following Colombia’s Medellin and Cali Cartels for three seasons, Newman is exploring the rise of Guadalajara Cartel in “Narcos: Mexico”.
Newman, who was recently in India to promote the latest season of the Netflix show with actors Diego Luna and Michael Pena, says drug business is driven by demand.
“We can definitely and sadly go anywhere (with the show). The drug business, unfortunately, unites us all. The cocaine you find in Mumbai is the same that you find in Tokyo, New York, London or Sydney, Australia. It all goes back to the same place,” he told PTI in an interview.
Newman believes the governments and law enforcement agencies have been looking at the wrong end of the telescope when it comes to the eradication of the drug menace.
“They (drug lords) have a great product and a very loyal fan base. That’s the thing we need to work on. The problem in the drug war is that we focus on the supply rather than the demand. If you want to make a dent on the drug war, you need to focus on demand,” he says.
It has been a passion project for Newman whose original plan was to follow the same set of characters to Mexico but he realised it would be futile to tell the story from somewhere in the middle.
“I thought I would follow the same story, the same set of characters to Mexico. But in my research, I realised that it is impossible to tell the drug story in Mexico without telling the story of Guadalajara Cartel. It is really where it all started. It was a challenging but fun opportunity to tell the story from within the interconnected universes of drug trafficking,” he says.
Mexican drug menace kills thousands of people every year and the team faced their own tragedy when their location scout, Carlos Munoz Portal, 37, was found murdered just outside of the Mexico City in September last year.
Newman says it was a personal setback for him and the team.
“On a personal level, it was very upsetting for all of us to lose a member of the crew in the service of the show. It was hard. Professionally, we changed our security protocol. The first question we asked was ‘Does it have anything to do with drug trafficking, the show?’ And the Mexican law enforcement said, ‘No, it was a random crime. That unfortunately befell this man’. We didn’t have another problem afterwards. But definitely it was not a great way to begin. And we carried it with us for a long time.”
The producer says he originally wrote the show as a movie but he realised “you cannot tell the story of someone who does unspeakable things in under two hours”.
“I realised it would not be possible to humanise the character. He will only be a bad guy. You cannot understand why he is doing what he is doing. I am not making any excuses but you have to explain what he is thinking.
“It is very easy to dismiss someone as a monster but monsters are not born, they are made. They are made by the environment and economic disparity and all those things. It is easy to rush and say, ‘That’s a bad apple’ but it doesn’t work that way.”
The show currently streams on Netflix.