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New Delhi (AFP) – The director behind a biting look at India’s entertainment industry says the behind-the-scenes deals and daring Bollywood personalities have proven to be a rich target for satire.
Shaad Ali’s latest venture is a local adaptation of a hit Netflix series that follows four hapless French talent agents as they argue and pamper their famous clients.
“Call My Agent: Bollywood” trades Paris for Mumbai, the sprawling port city that is home to India’s most lucrative production houses and its most famous megastars.
Ali’s is the third makeover of the Emmy-winning film “Ten Percent” – a nod to the traditional 10% cut taken by agents in the film industry – after previous incarnations in Britain and Turkey .
“It was very easy for me to be seduced by the show,” he told AFP, attributing as inspiration a career spent in observing the behavior of actors, their entourage and his fellow filmmakers.
But getting the series from screenplay to screen has been difficult, with last year’s Covid outbreak in Mumbai shaking up the production schedule.
A French critic called Ali’s version a “disaster”, while Indian critics also delivered hostile verdicts.
But Ali, who before that was best known for his romantic dramas starring some of Bollywood’s most recognizable men, says he has remained “peacefully oblivious” to the bad press.
“I keep hearing people say there is mixed reactions – some love it, others hated it – which I prefer,” he says.
“I don’t like intermediate reactions … that’s the scary part.”
He also didn’t hesitate to poke fun at the light and sometimes unconscious personalities that are often found in celebrity circles.
“My intention has never been bad and I’m really a part of (the industry) so if I laugh, I’m included in that,” he says.
“All of the celebrities who appeared on the show supported each other a lot to make fun of each other … it was just natural.”
“We are egocentric”
Lead actress Aahana Kumra plays the stubborn Amal, one of four famous talent managers who fight to keep their struggling agency alive after the sudden death of its founder.
Pushed into the role by her own agent, Kumra became an obsessive fan of the original French series, which even prompted her to take a critical look at her own industry.
“We are egocentric,” she told AFP.
“This is the nature of work – we are so on ourselves that we completely forget that there is an agent with a life of its own.”
A recurring subplot throughout “Call My Agent” is Amal’s relationship with another woman, culminating in an onscreen kiss – a rarity in Indian film and television, where mainstream mores minimize portrayal. romantic intimacy.
Kumra believes India is moving towards more candid representations of same-sex relationships and was indifferent to the prospect of criticism from the public.
“To me, all that really matters is what my parents think about a certain performance,” she says.
“It’s really nice to hear from them that they were very happy to see him.”
© 2021 AFP