As someone who has been a huge fan of Call My Agent! or Dix Pour Cent as it is called in French, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there will soon be an Indian remake set in Bollywood. Remakes can be tricky to pull off, especially in today's time where a large section of the audience has warmed up to watching shows and films in different languages with subtitles. The streaming giants have surely made it easier to access content across the globe. That being said, the set-up of Call My Agent! has an undeniably replicable quality to it. The various adaptations, already released or in the pipeline, are a testament to this. And, for a film-crazy nation like ours, it makes perfect sense to have our very own Bollywood version of the show.
The trailer opens with familiar industry faces like Farah Khan, Dia Mirza, Jackie Shroff and Richa Chadha, among others, paying their respect at the memorial service of the founder of the talent agency the show is centered around. Some of their laughable attempts at a eulogy underline the oblivious self-centered nature of the stars the agents have to deal with on a regular basis. It then cuts to a montage of the daily ongoings at the agency, introducing us to the four leads. It's an impressive line-up, with Aahana Kumra, Rajat Kapoor, Soni Razdan and Ayush Mehra playing the Indian versions of the agents Andrea, Mathias, Arlette and Gabriel. They are powerful performers without the distracting baggage of starriness. That is exactly what is needed in a story like this which, although set in the glamorous, glitzy world of Bollywood, has its central focus on the behind-the-scene characters of the agents. While the stars and their eccentricities help create the comedic core of the original show, it is the depiction of the chaotic professional and personal lives of the agents that makes one care for it.
By the end of the trailer the first thing to be noticed is that it is a faithful adaptation. A little too faithful for its own good though, I would say. It had me go back to the season 1 trailer of the original and realise that even the dialogues are same, almost word for word. Now one might argue that it is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when the source itself is so well-written. But one of the things that makes Call My Agent! so compelling is that even though the situations on-screen are overtly dramatic, the conversations in them have a natural flow. 'Hero pachpan ka, heroine bachpan ki chahiye' just doesn't have the same fluidity.
Another factor that adds to the charm of the original is how steeped it is in its innate French-ness. There are a lot of in-jokes surrounding the stars in each episode, their storylines often drawing from actual scandals/rumours about them. In its attempt to be true to the original, Call My Agent: Bollywood retains these storylines, making it feel like the actors in these roles are stand-ins for the ones in the French series. While it might be too early to say whether that works just from the trailer, it is surely a missed opportunity to have authentic storylines drawn from the rich treasure trove that is Bollywood. In its current form the show stands to be, at its best, a potentially good remake. But when the audience has the opportunity to watch the original on the very same platform, is that really enough? With its own set of legendary personas and salacious scandals, there's no dearth of masala to create a uniquely Bollywood version of this story while holding onto the premise of the original. In fact, that would probably help the show have a wider appeal among the audience.