Karan and Kabir have what every 10-year-old dreams of a vast five-star hotel as a playground,a swimming pool they can dive into whenever they like,a game room that stocks chocolates,and a luxury suite all to themselves. Sounds familiar? That is because The Suite Life of Karan and Kabir is the Indian spin-off of the hit American Disney channel show,The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
Premiering on Disney on Sunday,the daily show traces the adventures of 10-year-old Karan and Kabir as their mother,Priti Jaiswal,played by actor Shruti Seth,starts working at a plush hotel in Mumbai. But while the show is quite true to the original in several ways,subtle differences are immediately noticeable.
The Tripton Hotel in Boston has been chucked in favour of a setting thats much more local Raj Mahal Hotel,Mumbai. The twins mother isnt a singer and performer at the hotel,but a manager who oversees all operations. This change is clearly driven by the attempt to suit the Indian sensibilities. Yes,the mother is a hotel manager and not a performer,nor does she go out on romantic dates. These details do not work in the Indian context, explains director Vasant Valsan. Also,the twins in the Indian version arent identical though the reason for this is much less obvious.
For the original,the channel found the twins first and then created the series, adds Valsan about Cole and Dylan Sprouse,who first shot to fame for their role as Julian in Big Daddy. We auditioned a lot of twins across India but we didnt find anyone suitable. To me,the childrens acting abilities was more important than the fact that the main characters had to be twins, he says.
The casting crew thus settled for Namit Shah and Siddharth Thakkar,both of who have several advertisements under their belt.
In retrospect,the fact that the characters are fraternal twins worked in the shows favour. The shows writers even scripted jokes the twins make about who looks better or how different they are despite being brothers.