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The Office India review: Brownie points for accuracy, but magic lost in translation

If you're a crazy fan of The Office, a binge watch of its Indian adaptation may not be on top of your weekend plans. However, for those curious to see how Hotstar has adapted the sitcom, read on.

Published: 02nd July 2019 04:58 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd July 2019 01:20 PM   |  A+A-

The Hindi office poster. (Photo | Twitter)

Online Desk

As Indians, we’re used to seeing a plethora of American TV show remakes but the news of Hotstar's adaptation of the classic US sitcom The Office left many hard-to-please fans sceptical.

Now, with 13 episodes released so far in the first season of the Indian version, ardent fans of the US series have been bashing the desi remake left, right and centre. Here’s why!

Retaining the original flavour

Although the British edition of The Office starring Ricky Gervais is the original, comparisons have been drawn between the Indian adaptation and its American counterpart since the latter was more popular. 

Plenty of attention has been paid to detail, with the Wilkins Chawla Paper Company’s Faridabad branch looking like a carbon copy of Dunder Mifflin’s branch in Scranton.

WATCH THE HINDI TRAILER:

Actors Mukul Chadda who plays the Michael Scott character (renamed Jagdeep Chadda) and Gopal Datt who plays Dwight Schrute (renamed Triveni Prasad Mishra) have said that the intention has always been to ‘Indianize’ the show while retaining its jokes as well as its relatability quotient.

While that may have been the motive, replicating every episode scene by scene does not leave much room for creativity and leads to repetition. The balance between not wanting to ruin the ‘X-factor’ and putting out fresh, innovative content has clearly gone awry.

Lost in translation?

To the makers’ credit, it’s not that there has been no effort to write crisp dialogues for the cast. But we’re much too aware of what happens when a film or show is remade in another language or country. 

One of the key drawbacks of a faithful remake is that dialogues, which drive any show, will have to be translated almost verbatim. However, the jokes and anecdotes do not evoke the same reaction as they are often lost in translation.

Average acting

Introducing fresh faces amidst familiar ones is always a step forward for any industry. There’s no better way to combat the ongoing nepotism debate in Bollywood. Besides, Indian web series have led the way in this regard. 

WATCH TRAILER:

The Indian version of The Office too does not disappoint as many lesser-known faces have been given a platform but the acting so far has been average to say the least.

It fails to crack you up and instead activates your cringe mode. Ironically, the US sitcom thrived on cringe humour but the difference is that the situations there were intentionally portrayed in that manner.

Here, it is the acting and evident “trying too hard” vibe that spoils your mood and desire to give the show a fair chance. 

US version a hard act to follow

In the digital day and age, getting “approved” for a second season is hard enough. It’s even more difficult to make a mark when you have a legacy to live up to. 

In this case, the series is a victim by default and there is little it can do about it. 

The only way out is to convince the audience, those who aren’t already miffed with the remake that is, to give the show a shot. After all, the demographic which hasn’t seen the other editions is likely to be far less demanding.



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