Zee collaborating with African countries to remake Indian content

Initiative includes serials like 'Pavitra Rishta', 'Dance India Dance' & 'Punar Vivah'

MUMBAI: Gone are the days when Indian producers were busy Indianising foreign content. Not that it’s not done still, but now made-in-India fare is being adapted into other languages in various countries. Zee, for example, is re-adapting popular Hindi soaps for other markets, especially the African ones.

Zee TV’s flagship show, `Pavitra Rishta’, which worked well with Indian audiences, is now ready to fly in countries like Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal that have taken a fancy for Indian kitchen politics. Zee Telefilms has partnered with Multimedia Group (a broadcaster with two entertainment channels, Joy Prime and Adom TV) from Ghana and a Nigerian investor, MACE, to remake `Pavitra…’ as `Deceptive Measures’ with local actors.

The filming is taking place across Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria and the first season will have 52 episodes of one-hour each. Popular actors from Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria, who will star in the series, include local stars like Michael Godson and Joy Jasmin Aygeman apart from actors from the three countries. The series will be directed by Nigerian film producer and director Uduak Obong.

Zee Telefims Ltd regional head for Middle East, Africa, Turkey and Pakistan Nitin Michael told that over the past few years popularity of Indian content amongst African audiences has grown significantly.

According to Michael, last year Zee produced `Khwaabon Ke Darmiyaan’, in collaboration with RTI from Ivory Coast, giving it a local flavour. The Indian drama series produced in the UAE had an African actor as part of the cast. A few of the scenes from the drama were also shot in Africa as well. “This series turned out to be a huge success and, hence, the next logical step was to explore a full local production,” Michael explained the reason for Zee venturing into remakes.

However, getting into a full-fledged conversion of an Indian theme with foreign actors for specific markets was not just a thought out of the blue. The idea to get into local flavor came after lot of brain-storming and data analytics relating to popular soap operas that did well in Africa in the past.

‘Pavitra Rishta’, for example, was a story that had worked well both on Zee channels in Africa as also on other TV channels from countries like Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal when telecast in original Hindi and dubbed/sub-titled in English and French languages, Michael said.

The partnership amongst African broadcasters, local investors and Zee is a unique initiative with the objective being collaboration with FTA broadcasters from across Africa and using local talent to create engaging content with production values that were better than what was already being done in the African entertainment industry. According to Michael, the price of creating such re-purposed content was similar to what was already being done.

The project involving remaking Indian content for audiences across regions has “opened the eyes and minds” of broadcasters to create more such high-quality content, which could work well with the audiences there in Africa.

Michael said following `Pavitra Rishta’ initiative, Zee is exploring the option with other broadcasters from across the region for remaking other successful Indian scripted and unscripted formats that could travel across Africa and could include the likes of ‘Dance India Dance’ and ‘Punar Vivah’. 

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