Remakes are not new to the Indian entertainment space. We have had movie remakes between Indian regional languages for decades and in recent times, remakes from international cinema as well. But what makes the scenario more interesting now is that with the advent of OTT platforms, there are opportunities to remake international television and OTT series in various Indian languages. And that is what those working in the OTT space currently seems to be cashing in on.
This year Bollywood announced numerous Hindi remakes of popular and successful international series which will see the digital debut of A-list stars from the Hindi film world. Ajay Devgn is reportedly set to star and make his debut on OTT in the Hindi remake of the Idris Elba series ‘Luther’ to be jointly produced by BBC India and Applause Entertainment. Meanwhile, it has been announced that Hrithik Roshan will be essaying Tom Hiddleston’s character in the remake of the mini-series ‘The Night Manager’ that would likely stream on Disney+Hostar and be produced by Banijay Asia. There have also been shows like ‘The Office’ (British TV series), ‘Hostages’ (Israeli show) and ‘Criminal Justice’ (British series) which have been made in Hindi with lesser known actors. Unfortunately, they have not received rave reviews and gained the same traction as the originals.
Now, comes the question where do the leading ladies stand in this scenario? Sushmita Sen, who took a long break from acting, returned to the screen with a bang with Aarya’, a remake of the Dutch series ‘Penoza’. In South India numerous top actresses, like Kajal Aarwal, Tamannaah, Samantha and Shruti Haasan, have forayed into the OTT series space with fervour as they see it as a natural progression. But no announcements have been made with regard to TV/OTT series remakes in Hindi or in any other language starring a leading actress.
OTT platforms have been a great space for actors to experiment and explore new genres and stories. Unfortunately, the success stories of these TV/OTT series remakes have been mixed. With male stars being roped in for some top-notch show remakes, isn’t it time the industry also look at giving their female counterparts the same opportunity? ‘Big Little Lies’, ‘The Undoing’, ‘Mare of Easttown’, ‘Sharp Objects’, ‘Killing Eve’, Little Fires Everywhere’, ‘The Pact’, ‘Fatma’, ‘Homecoming’, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘Marcella’ are some shows that celebrate the female protagonist and have been applauded by the audience. Remakes of some of these crime/thriller shows would do well on OTT in India and allow for more shows centred around women.
‘Fatma’, for instance, centres around a quiet cleaning lady who goes in search of her missing husband and takes us through how this search unfolds. She ends up becoming a murderer as that’s the only way she can survive. The compelling crime story talks about family, has emotion and drama as does ‘The Pact’, a British series about five women who work in a brewery. The murder of the brewery boss is what ‘The Pact’ is hinged on but the relationship between the five women, their families and their lives makes it a superb watch.
There have been many successful international comedies starring women but as well-known, these are difficult to remake and an attempt is best avoided. The crime and thriller genres seem to be what is working best among the Indian audience at this point in time. A good crime/thriller show is well-balanced with sentiment, drama, thrill, fear and maybe even a laugh. In fact, OTT platforms (Hindi/regional) are quick to commission originals along these lines even though many are really not being raved about. Given that originals don’t seem to be clicking with the audience, perhaps OTT platforms can look at successful crime/thriller remakes with female leads. Again, it must be reiterated that not all successful international shows can be replicated in India due to local sensibilities and other factors. The audience here needs to be able to identify with the characters and this is where we need good writers to work on these remakes. However, that’s a topic for another day.