Call My Agent: Bollywood - Show time with Mitrajit Bhattacharya

Call My Agent: Bollywood is the Hindi remake of French original series, Call My Agent (French: Dix Pour Cent that means Ten Percent) on Netflix. Unfortunately, it wrongly lives up to its name by getting only 10% of the original right. The other 90% is a colossal waste of energy, effort and time that get the tone and pitch completely wrong and project the Indian talent management industry as nothing but a land of cuckoos, where the agents look like bad caricatures.

 

Movie remakes are easy sells: tried and tested storylines, just buy the rights, get a decent direction and production team and move on. But only few get the tone/ pitch right. Many South Indian remakes are disasters while only a few like Drishyam and Kabir Singh get them right. The success purely depends on how well you adapt the original content for the audience you cater to.

 

Dix Pour Cent is a hugely popular French comedy-drama television series that has already completed four seasons between 2015 and 2020. Call My Agent is an insider take of the workings of the glamourous film industry through talent managers who control the careers of stars as well as serve as agony aunts for their fragile egos. It is set in the office of talent agency Agence Samuel Kerr (ASK) in Paris, where four agents Andrea, Mathias, Gabriel and Arlette juggle between their private and professional lives and try and deliver best for their clients in an industry which is cut-throat competitive. The show juggles between professional crisis that arises from the sudden death of the colourful owner of the agency and how each agent deals with the challenges at work and their dysfunctional personal lives.

The original in French works on two counts, humour and situational comedy as well as voyeurism. Finally, you get to see an insider’s view of how lives of stars pan out; the insecurities, the pain, the heartburn behind the demi God status they project in public. A hit formula, no doubt. However, the most creative and even the best part of the series is when real actors appear as an exaggerated version of themselves.

Call My Agent: Bollywood does miss the bullseye by the size of a bull. It fails because it misses out on authenticity, the secret sauce of success when you try to project an insider’s take. Imagine a movie on a cricketer’s life and you show wrong technique of hook, pull or drive. In this case, the makers have done a literal translation of the French counterpart without even attempting to get the cultural milieu right. There wasn’t even an effort to adapt. The characters look unreal, the office looks unreal, the work looks unreal because this is not Paris. It’s as simple as that. Even the character sketches are so stereotypical. Trying to make the character of Amal (Ahana Kumra) speak words like ‘mohtarma’ and ‘janaab’ because she is a Muslim is plain bizarre as the rest of her personality is not in sync with her background.

Yet another example of a big screen director failing on the small screen. The audience on OTT needs far more researched work and nuanced portrayals. Shaad Ali’s work clearly lacks vision, gets exposed time and again with lack of detail and gasps for breath for survival.

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