The Indian adaptation of The Office is out now on Hotstar. We take a look at how the legendary mockumentary series’ desi version came about.
The Office has been packaged as a show about a place where work takes a back seat and the boss tries to be your friend. It is an official adaptation of the international mockumentary series of the same name, where typical office characters find themselves in atypical situations. The show has been created for Applause Entertainment by BBC Studios India.
The story is set in Faridabad and chronicles the 9 to 5 lives of the employees at Wilkins Chawla as they navigate through their mundane routine. The fans of the US show have criticised the Indian remake in anticipation that it would ruin the classic. Upon being questioned about these concerns, Deepak Segal, Head of Content, Applause Entertainment tells us that the show has been created by fans of the show who were excited to bring this cult comedy to Indian audiences.
“The US version, adapted from the original UK show met with a lot of resistance when it was launched but eventually, it became a show which grows on you and now it has become a cult!” he says. He further raises a key point that there are a large number of people here who have not seen the original show.
The intention to create the show is to showcase an office drama that would cause a laughing riot and has characters that are relatable to Indian audiences. “We want to be true to the fans and at the same time, connect with first-time viewers. Hence, we have kept the format and storyline as is but have Indianised it to suit the local palate,” explains Segal.
Creating The Office
Segal tells us that Sameer, CEO of Applause Entertainment had been very keen on creating the show in India for a long time and BBC Studios was chosen for creating the adaptation as they were also the creators of the original iconic series. The next part was shouldered by a team of young writers who transliterated the shows in an Indian context.
“Casting was one of the most important aspects of building this whole series. It was a conscious decision not to cast very popular faces as we wanted the characters to grow on the audiences as opposed to letting known faces overpower these cult characters. I must admit that all actors have outdone themselves and have performed brilliantly,” Segal tells us.
Challenges on the way
Indianising an American cult show is one that is bound to bring along challenges. The characters have to feel real and relatable and the context should not be lost in translation. We asked Segal about the challenges they faced. “Any international adaptation into a local context is a challenge but it also gives content creators like us an opportunity to bring universally acclaimed formats into our language and culture,” he says, explaining how they have done this with Criminal Justice, Hostages and The Office.
Commenting on his experience as of playing Jagdeep Chadda in the show, actor Mukul Chadda says, “Stepping into the shoes of Jagdeep was a long process, one that I thoroughly enjoyed as an actor.” Calling his character fascinating, Mukul says that creating peculiarities for him — his way of walking, talking, and other mannerisms was an enjoyable experience.