Not everyone can do it right. The art of adapting foreign shows for Indian audiences can be quite difficult. But some are better at it than others. Aditya Birla Group’s production house Applause, now in its second avatar since its revival in 2017, seems to have figured out the format. They’ve had successes with Hostages, The Office, Criminal Justice, and must be hoping to repeat it with the French comedy Call My Agent!, the Indian version of Idris Elba’s star-making Luther and the Israeli hit Fauda, which naturally translates into tensions between India and Pakistan in the Indian version. Apart from the talent in front of the screen, they’ve had some steady hands behind the scenes: Rohan Sippy, who directed The Office, also did Season 2 of the well received Criminal Justice, while Shaad Ali, who is a dab hand at adapting Mani Ratnam movies into Hindi, has completed Call My Agent! The advantage with shows that have done well globally is that they come with pedigree and with audiences in India increasingly exposed to international entertainment, tastes have also changed. Sippy will be doing another adaptation, the tense four-episode ITV series Cheat.
No Longer Caste Aside
Neeraj Ghaywan wanted to make it part of the story in his directorial debut Masaan in 2015, but changed his mind. Just as well. When Ghaywan got a chance, he made a short film, part of the Ajeeb Daastaans anthology for Dharmatic, the digital arm of Dharma Productions. In ‘Geeli Puchi’, part of Ajeeb Daastaans, he has created a complex character, Bharati Mandal, on the intersection of caste and sexuality. As the Dalit factory worker Konkona Sen Sharma is spot on in her drive and ambition, and you only have to see her face fall when the older Dalit factory worker tells her, ‘Table-kursi par sirf khana milega, table-kursi vali naukri nahin [We can only get to eat at the table, never work there].’ Streaming services, just in time, are showing the mirror to Indian society.
We may not have TV ratings for now to measure what is top of the pops but at a recent film awards ceremony, organisers promise that they saw a most unusual spike in viewership on Facebook when actor Hrithik Roshan was performing to a medley of his songs over his 21-year-long career. From iconic songs ‘Kaho Na Pyaar Hai’ to ‘You Are My Soniya’, from ‘Dhoom Again’ to ‘Senorita’, the dance sequences with their elaborate choreography continue to be popular. Clearly, award ceremonies need acts such as these to keep them going during the pandemic.
The Apu Apology
He has apologised to Indians for his portrayal as Apu Nahasapeemapetilon from the hugely popular The Simpsons, but he should not feel any guilt given how Indians treat foreigners in their movies. But Hank Azaria, who voiced Apu for 31 years, says he would like to apologise to every Indian in America for making them a joke. Someone please show him Thugs of Hindostan (2018), Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (2019), Lagaan (2001), Kranti (1981)—the list goes on. Truly, this is the height of cancel culture given that every character in The Simpsons is a stereotype, from Homer’s lazy, entitled slob to Mr Burns’ evil, megalomaniacal businessman.
Did You Know?
Tiger Shroff is a mere seven years old in the industry, but he is already heading three franchises. Baaghi 3 is already out, Heropanti 2 is in the works and a new franchise, Ganapath, is being planned with Vikas Bahl. It’s not merely the result of his youth but also of his USP—action movies—which lend themselves well to familiar characters. Call it future-proofing because that is how audiences are expected to react in future—watch noisy franchise movies in theatres and the more thoughtful longform series at home. At 31, he commands the attention and affection of young boys and girls for his dancing and fighting skills. With age and experience, other skills can follow too.