Is the Indian edition of ‘The Office’ worth a watch?

The Indian reboot of The Office that streams on Hotstar have been at the center of a vast debate — between loyalists of the UK and US versions and objective viewers. Is it bad? Is it good? Is it meh?

It’s a bit of all three. The Indian version of The Office features the paper company, Wilkins Chawla, just like Wernham Hogg in the UK and Dunder Mifflin in the US. It is set in Faridabad instead of Slough or Scranton. And it has an opening theme that grows on you. For this comparison, let’s stick to the far more popular The Office US. Hotstar doesn’t currently stream this version, but I’ll assume you’ve seen it already.

The format is the same — a mockumentary. The characters are more or less the same. And the 13-episode season one on Hotstar takes six episodes from season one of the US sitcom and seven from the second season. The plots are almost scene-for-scene in the remake, albeit a few much-required desi adjustments. But Hotstar, is that all it takes for this to be a comparable raging success?

The universal appeal of The Office hinges upon the awkwardness of the regional manager Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell. Does Mukul Chadda as Jagadeep Chadda fill in Carell’s (and of course, Ricky Gervais’s) shoes? In spirit, he does. He’s every bit as awkward, unaware of his blunders and petulant. And he does so with a perfectly happy Punjabi vibe. Gopal Dutt, who plays TP Mishra is less of a Dwight Schrute, and more of a Gareth Keenan (The Office UK) is the most fun part of the show. He’s a Modi supporter and a member of the RSS. He also calls Amit (Jim) “anti-national.”

Pammi (Samridhi Dewan) is a perfect Pam Beasley. And Amit tries hard to John Krasinski his role — he fails badly at Jim-ing the camera — and manages a passable imitation, if not a promising one. The other characters do manage to work, more or less.

So is The Office on Hotstar worth a watch? To OG fans of the US version, one may need to cut down on the high expectations and elitism. To those who haven’t experienced this show ever, it is a beautiful place to begin. Sure, Better Life Foundation (OML) is still a better spiritual reboot of the show, but The Office India is definitely worth a watch!

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