June 28, 2019 12:31:14 pm
Hotstar has just released the Indian adaptation of much loved The Office and it is exactly what the audience was scared of. When the first trailer came out, there was much uproar on the lines of ‘Don’t ruin a classic,’ but when has that ever stopped big conglomerates from ‘ruining classics’?
This version is an exact replica of its US counterpart. As the show opens, we can tell who’s playing who just by looking at the layout of the set. Shot in a mockumentary format, the characters here work at the Faridabad branch of the Wilkins Chawla paper company.
Now here’s a thing with adaptations, and that too with properties that are largely popular all over the world. The audience can choose to watch the Indian version of the show but why would they if the original is just as easily available online?
Here’s another problem. The office setup can be adapted in an Indian setting but when you start copying jokes, it makes the audience realise that the makers haven’t put in as much effort as we expected them to. Popular running gags like Michael correcting Dwight that he is not ‘Assistant Branch Manager’ but ‘Assistant to the Branch Manager’ also appear here among many other jokes. The characters here are the Indian embodiment of the US version but they have not been adapted keeping the milieu in mind.
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Mukul Chadda plays Jagdeep Chadda (Steve Carell’s Michael Scott) and while you know that he is the annoying boss, there is a certain sense of warmth that the character carries through the episodes. He is politically incorrect but the guardian-like care that he provides for his employees allows the audience to care for him as well. His loneliness and ways to overcompensate for his mistakes, make you forgive him. This is missing in the ‘Fun-jabi’ boss here. He is loud and annoying but you don’t feel sorry for him.
Jim and Pam are the emotional core of the show in the US version. They have the kind of chemistry that cannot be created but just happens organically. Here, those characters are played by Sayandeep Sengupta’s Amit and Samridhi Dewan’s Pammi. The two are work besties who will eventually end up together but that spark that yells romance is missing. And this proves that no matter how much money you spend on buying the rights, adaptations don’t work just because you are saying the same lines albeit in a different language.
The only element that truly works here is Gopal Datt’s TP. He is the Indian counterpart of Rainn Wilson’s Dwight and this character has been adapted to fit in an Indian setting. His mannerisms remind you of Dwight and in many places you see him mouthing the same dialogues but Datt’s performance tries to save this otherwise sinking ship.
This is the tenth adaptation of The Office since the British version of the show was first created. And so far, only two versions, American and German, have had resounding success.
Many new shows are released on a weekly basis on streaming platforms and we can’t segregate them on the basis of Indian or non-Indian content anymore because they are all available on the same platforms. The makers just can’t be making digital content for Indian audience anymore because if I have the option to consume a unique show, why would I watch a rip-off that isn’t even done well?
Bottom line: The Indian version is a tough sell for those who have seen the Brit and American versions but those who have not, you can find the counterparts on another streaming platform.
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