BBC Worldwide has sold the format to mockumentary sitcom “The Office” to India, it announced Tuesday at its showcase event in Liverpool. The format was acquired for India by Aditya Birla Group’s Applause Entertainment.
Created in 2001 for the BBC by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, “The Office” ran just two seasons followed by a two-part Christmas special in 2003, winning six BAFTAs and two Golden Globes. Gervais revisited his lead character in the 2016 movie “David Brent: Life on the Road.”
“The Office” format was sold to NBC in 2005, which produced the popular Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning U.S. version starring Steve Carell as Michael Scott, running nine seasons from 2005 to 2013. The Indian version will adapt the first two seasons of the U.S. version of “The Office” into a single 28-episode season.
In the Indian version, the Brent/Scott character becomes Jagdeep Chaddha, the hapless boss of paper company Wilkins Chawla in an industrial park on the far outskirts of Faridabad, a satellite town of New Delhi. Chadda sees himself as a smart, fun and go-getting leader loved by his adoring team, but nothing could be further from the truth and his attempts to cheer and impress his staff invariably end in comic disaster.
Gervais said: “I’m always excited and flattered to see remakes of my work, particularly as I’ve ended the David Brent saga now with ‘Life on the Road,’ but when a country with a population of over a billion has a version I’m hoping for big ratings.”
It is the first time the show’s format has been commissioned in Asia. As well as the U.S., eight other local versions of the show have been produced, in Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Israel and Sweden.
Myleeta Aga, senior vice president and general manager for Southeast Asia and South Asia at BBC Worldwide, said the unique appeal of “The Office” format lay in its universality. “We are assembling an A-list cast of talent to ensure the highest standards of execution, and see ‘The Office’ as just the first step in a long and fruitful partnership with Applause,” said Aga.
Applause will also partner with BBC Worldwide to develop and produce an Indian version of drama format “Criminal Justice,” which was remade in the U.S. as HBO’s Emmy-winning “The Night Of.”
The 10-part, as-yet-untitled Indian version will be set and filmed in present-day Mumbai, following both the economic and class differences between a working-class student moonlighting as a taxi driver and the wealthy female passenger he picks up one fateful evening.