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Fox’s Indian streamer Hotstar is building on its content offerings with its foray into originals that include local remakes of BBC shows The Office and Criminal Justice.
Hotstar has largely drawn on Fox-owned broadcasting giant Star India’s massive multilingual content library, which spans everything from soaps to Bollywood movies and, most important, sports, including India’s national obsession, cricket. Star India has rights to major cricket properties, such as the ICC World Cup and the hugely popular domestic Indian Premier League, which have played a major role in boosting Hotstar’s viewership as it aggressively battles rivals Netflix, Amazon and other platforms backed by U.S. entertainment giants, such as Viacom’s Voot and Sony’s SonyLiv, among others.
While Netflix, Amazon and other rivals have taken a lead in launching originals, Hotstar only recently unveiled its strategy for Hotstar Specials, as the streamer calls its originals.
The first four shows announced are in partnership with Applause Entertainment, backed by leading business conglomerate Aditya Birla Group. Last year, BBC Worldwide India had announced it would co-produce local versions of iconic comedy The Office and legal drama Criminal Justice in partnership with Applause. It’s the first time that these properties are being developed in Asia.
The Office has seen eight versions in Europe, while the Emmy-winning U.S. version was toplined by Steve Carell. The BAFTA-winning U.K. original was written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant and revolved around a narcissistic, egotistical and childish middle manager (Gervais) working for a provincial paper company.
Criminal Justice follows an individual on a journey through the criminal justice system and has been adapted for the U.S. as The Night Of, starring John Turturro and Riz Ahmed, who won an Emmy for his performance.
Rohan Sippy, Debbie Rao and Vivek Bhushan direct the Indian adaptation of The Office, for which cast details are still awaited. Criminal Justice is helmed by Tigmanshu Dhulia and Vishal Furia and stars Vikrant Massey, Pankaj Tripathi, Mita Vashisht, Anupriya Goenka and veteran Bollywood actor Jackie Shroff in leading roles.
Israeli TV series Hostages, which also saw a U.S. version that aired on CBS starring Toni Collette, is getting an Indian makeover directed by Sudhir Mishra and will star Ronit Roy, Tisca Chopra and Parvin Dabas. The remake was developed by Banijay Asia and Applause. The original show was created by Omri Givon and Rotem Shamir and produced by Chaim Sharir, and revolved around a top surgeon whose family is seized by masked men after she is chosen to perform surgery on the president of Israel.
Mumbai-set political drama City of Dreams is directed by Nagesh Kukunoor starring Atul Kulkarni, Sachin Pilgaonkar, Eijaz Khan, Priya Bapat and Siddharth Chandekar.
The shows, available in seven major Indian languages, are slated to launch this month and will stream worldwide.
Hotstar’s originals strategy, first announced in January, sees the streamer partnering with some of India’s leading filmmakers and content creators. While names, details and release dates of the streamer’s other shows haven’t been revealed, in addition to the talent attached with the first four shows announced, the upcoming lineup will feature such creators as Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth), superstar Salman Khan, Kabir Khan (Bajrangi Bhaijaan), Neeraj Pandey (A Wednesday), Nikkhil Advani (Batla House), Ram Madhvani (Neerja), Venkat Prabhu (Party), Mahesh Manjrekar (Sanju) and Sharad Devarajan, who heads character entertainment company Graphic India.
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