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Streaming content creators eye remakes of foreign shows to keep viewers hooked

A still from the hit Israeli show Fauda. Sameer Nair-led Applause Entertainment is bringing its Indian version to the small screen.Premium
A still from the hit Israeli show Fauda. Sameer Nair-led Applause Entertainment is bringing its Indian version to the small screen.

  • Shows such as ‘The Office’, ‘Hostages’ and ‘Mind The Malhotras’ have been adapted from international formats
  • Sameer Nair-led Applause Entertainment is bringing Israeli show Fauda’s Indian version to the small screen

NEW DELHI : New-age content creators on video streaming services are now looking at popular international formats that they can localize as the next bait to hook Indian audiences. The Indian arm of Paris-based company Banijay Group is developing the Indian versions of American reality show Survivor and legal thriller Damages, Belgian TV series The Mole and Turkish drama Public Enemy. Banijay’s acquisition of the EndemolShine Group globally may still be a work-in-progress, but the latter is already working on the Dutch show Penoza for India. Meanwhile, Sameer Nair-led Applause Entertainment is bringing the Indian versions of Israeli shows Your Honour and Fauda.

Nair said adaptations have had a long history in the Indian television industry, right from the days of Kaun Banega Crorepati, Indian Idol and Bigg Boss.

“Very often, interesting ideas originate in some part of the world and they have universal resonance, in terms of their story, characters and context. When we find such stories, we look to see whether they can be translated and adapted in a different setting, keeping true to the original plot," Nair said, citing the example of The Office, a show that the company made for Hotstar whose original story, set in small-town Slough, UK was moved to Faridabad.

While the formats currently getting adapted include both fiction and non-fiction, content creators say the other criterion to choose what to remake depends on how the show has done globally.

“Many of these formats have topped ratings for multiple seasons across the world. That means the story has the ability to reach wide which is aided by the fact that the OTT (over-the-top video streaming) audience in India is very educated and global in its mindset and open to newer stories and paradigms," said Aparna Acharekar, programming head at ZEE5, which is looking at formats across the UK, Israel, Spain and Scandinavian countries. Rishi Negi, chief operating officer at Banijay Asia, added that though a lot of the OTT audience may have watched the original show on TV or online, a good story will always work across formats and creators like them work around the fact that many markets may still not know of these shows.

Shows like The Office, Hostages and Criminal Justice, all three on Hotstar, and Mind The Malhotras, on Amazon Prime Video, have been adapted from international formats and have made waves in India. Most of the new shows are yet to finalize their cast and are likely to pitch to a platform once the logistics are in place. While Penoza is the story of the daughter of a drug lord taking over the family business, Survivor is a reality show that places a group of strangers in an isolated location, where they must fend for themselves. The Mole is also a reality game show where contestants work as a group to add money to a pot that only one of them will eventually win.

“Adapting a show is a bigger challenge than making an original because you have to remain true to original and yet make it relatable (to the local audience) which is a rigorous, strategic process," Acharekar said.

While companies like Banijay are mostly adapting their own international formats, in some cases, they are also looking at acquiring third-party rights. Costs of acquiring a regular popular show could range between 5-8% of the investment that went into making the original, industry experts say.

But it’s not all smooth sailing. “The shows in question are very popular globally so they have already been licensed and sold around the world to a lot of European countries, the US and Canada. The challenge is to get rights for the Indian OTT players to air the local version they make for multiple territories and languages," said Abhishek Rege, chief executive officer EndemolShine India.


Lata Jha

Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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