While international reality show formats are readily adapted by desi channels, they are wary of importing concepts for soaps. Officially at least, we haven't seen too many international serials being converted into desi fare.
The most popular adaptation till date remains Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi that was based on the Spanish telenovella Yo Soy Betty La Fea. Another Spanish serial Sweet Fat Valentina was also adapted into Dekho Magar Pyaar Se but it didn’t do well. Not just shows, even Hollywood films have been a source of inspiration. For instance, Pyar Ki Yeh Ek Kahani was loosely based on the Twilight Saga, Mahi Way was the desi version of The Devil Wears Prada while Dekha Ek Khwaab was said to be inspired from The Princess Diaries.
More recently, Pakistani serial Dhoop Kinarey was officially adapted as Kuch Toh Log Kahenge, Best of Luck Nikki from Good Luck Charlie, and Suite Life of Karan and Kabir follows the Suite Life of Zack and Zody! Not to forget the latest one, Jeannie Aur Juju taken from the popular ’60s American show I Dream of Jeannie.
The advantage of adapting a successful international show is that the makers are assured of a readymade script. As Arnab Chaudhari, Chief Creative Officer, Kids Network, Disney-UTV says, “There’s a bank of stories that are extremely popular with audiences across countries and we choose stories with universal values, a good mix of humour which we think can be adapted in a locally relevant manner and appeal to kids and their families alike.” Anooj Kapoor, EVP, SAB TV concurs that for Jeannie aur Juju, they have 125 readymade scripts! “The show dubbed in Hindi, which aired in the ’90s, was quite popular. So it made sense to adapt the show rather than go in for a home-grown concept,” he adds.
When adapting a show, makers have to make it relevant to the Indian milieu while retaining the essence of the story. Rajan Shahi, who directed Jassi... and bought the rights for Dhoop Kinarey says that it’s not an easy road. After the first year, Jassi transformed into a regular soap opera while Kuch Toh... exhausted the original story in 10 episodes! “It had a thin plot, and was more than two decades old. I had to add sub-plots, keeping in mind the demands of today’s audiences,” he says.
Even Anooj says that any plans of more adaptations will depend on how Jeannie aur Juju pans out. “I am sure, if this is successful, which we will come to know soon, more adaptations will follow.”