Desi version of 'Keeping up Appearances' to hit Star this summer

MUMBAI: Encouraged by the success of Ji Mantriji , the Indianised version of Yes Minister, BBC Worldwide has signed another deal with Star Plus.

The new show is a Hindi version of Keeping up Appearances, titled Kauva Chala Hans Ki Chaal (KCHC). As per the deal, 26 episodes will be made by Indian production company Chrysalis Films with a cast that includes Ketaki Dave and Manish Chaudhari. Production begins this month and the show is scheduled to start airing during the summer.

The protagonist of Keeping Up Appearances, Hyacinth Bucket, is an incredibly narrow minded, emotionally shallow social climber. In the Indian version she is Bulbul Sand, who aspires to be a cosmopolitan sophisticate, desperate to keep up with her middle class neighbours. And, as in the UK version, her path to social greatness is thwarted by ‘Champak’, her brother-in-law who is hypnotised by the idiot box and is also addicted to samosas. ‘Koel’ , her short-skirt wearing sister who is always on the look out for ‘Mr. Right’is another obstacle.

Bulbul has a huge ego problem with her surname. Sand is pronounced Saaand, meaning ‘male buffalo’. Bulbul prefers that people she encounters pronounce it as sand, implying something you find on the beach.

Some changes have been made for Indian audiences. For instance, in the UK version, Hyacinth and company are all ready to collect their pensions. In India, however the cast is too young to entertain thoughts of retirement.

The producer of KCHC , Sunil Shanbag is hoping that the show will change the way people looking at getting their ribs tickled will approach a comedy. He stresses that there is much more to comedy than bottom of the jar humour, like someone slipping on a banana skin. He maintains that a comedy can be given greater depth through scripts that have rich characters and genuinely funny situations.

Head of Africa and South Asia BBC Worldwide, Monisha Shah, who brokered the deal, adds, " Every society has its version of competing, or ‘keeping up with the Jones’, and this Indian adaptation will take a humorous look at the emerging "have money, will flaunt it" mantra of urban India. This deal is another major step forward by BBC Worldwide in its strategy of successfully delivering format-based local productions in various regions across the world."

Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea says, "We continue to be attracted to the BBC’s light entertainment offering and after our success with Kamzor Kadii Kaun (The Weakest Link) and Ji Mantriji (Yes Minister) we look forward to the Indian version of Keeping up Appearances, which will be perfect for our viewers. With the quality of BBC programmes, and the reach of the Star network to the Indian population, we are confident we will continue to be the pace setter in Asia’s digital economy."

Keeping Up Appearances has to date been licensed to more than 45 countries around the world from as far afield as Denmark, Canada, Israel, Botswana, Latvia, Namibia, Norway, Gambia, Egypt, Barbados, Turkey, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Iceland and Spain. 

Dwelling on the reason for this popularity a BBC Worldwide spokesperson said, " It is a recognisable situation. We probably all know people who are - to some degree - like Hyacinth. It is not a phenomenon that is culturally determined: it happens everywhere. And then of course it is very well written." While it is too early to talk about what other projects could be given an Indian makeover, the spokesperson said the local version should bring added value.

In india, however while people have some familiarity with Fawlty Towers, To The Manor Born , Keeping Up Appearances is an unheard of commodity. The spokesperson however said, " BBC Worldwide will assist Star every possible manner to popularise the original show before we run the show on air."

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