If you look at the Broadcast Audience Research Channel (BARC) ratings, the top three Hindi shows on television are Anupamaa, Imlie and Ghum Hai Kisikey Pyaar Mein. Apart from airing on StarPlus, the three shows also have another common link, they are the remakes of popular Bengali shows which aired (and are still airing) on Star Jalsha.
Anupamaa, starring Rupali Ganguli and Sudhanshu Pandey, is a remake of Indrani Halder’s long-running serial Sreemoyee. Also starring Tota Roy Chowdhury and Sudip Mukherjee, the show started as a woman’s fight for her family’s respect. Of course, over the course of years the show has seen many twists and turns, but it continues to be one of the most watched shows.
Ghum Hai Kisikey Pyaar Mein is a remake of Kusum Dola, a story of a young medical student who is forced to marry a police officer in front of her father’s death bed. The Bengali show starred Madhumita Sircar, Aparajita Ghosh Das and Rishi Kaushik in the lead roles.
Rishi Kaushik, co-incidentally also starred in Ishti Kutum, the Bengali serial which was remade into Imlie. That too, is the story of a girl being forced to marry a man and realising he has a fiance. What’s even more surprising, is that Ishti Kutum was already remade into a show called Mohi in 2015.
These aren’t the only shows that have been remade in the past decade. Sasural Genda Phool (Ogo Bodhu Sundori), Gustaakh Dil (Bou Kotha Kao), Meri Maa (Maa), Alaxmi Ka Super Parivaar (Sansaar Sukher Hoy Romonir Gune) , Kulfi Kumar Bajewala (Potol Kumar Gaanwala), Jai Kanhaiya Laal Ki (Bhojo Gobindo) and Shaurya Aur Anokhi Ki Kahaani (Mohor) are examples of Hindi shows that were remade from Bengali.
Not only that, TV shows that are coming back for a season two, have also taken their storylines from Bengali shows. The biggest example of this is Saath Nibhaana Saathiya season 2, whose storyline follows the Bengali show Ke Apon Ke Por. The makers of Saath Nibhaana Saathiya 2 were quick to encash the fame of Yashraj Mukhate’s viral Rasode Mein Kaun Tha parody. Even though fans expected to see more of Gopi Bahu and Kokilaben, Devoleena Bhattacharjee and Rupal Patel quickly exited the show to make way for a remake.
This pattern is the most prevalent in Star Plus and Star Bharat, but isn’t limited to it. Zee TV has also taken advantage of its very popular Zee Bangla channel. The biggest examples of this are Bhootu, which was the remake of Bhutu and Sanjeeda Sheikh and Abhinav Shukla’s Badalte Rishton Ki Dastaan, a remake of the Bengali serial Khela.
There is no doubt that the big television channels are benefitting from their regional counterparts. Even though remakes aren’t limited to Bengali shows, the level of success is higher than other languages. However, there have been super successful shows like Pavitra Rishta, Saubhagyavati Bhava, Subh Vivaah, Maayke Se Bandhi Dor, which are remakes of popular South Indian shows.
Now, why are Bengali shows so famous? From Sreemoyee to Kusum Dola, each Bengali serial starts with a very unique concept. The track of most of these shows have sufficient twists and turns for the audience to remain hooked. For example, Indrani Halder’s Sreemoyee started as a tale of a woman underappreciated by her family, but went on to show her trying to get on her own feet, deal with her husband’s affair and leaving her husband to lead a life of her own. In the middle of it all, there were additional tracks showing her children navigating their own lives and love.
Kusum Dola, too showed, what seemed like a love-triangle at first. But over the two years it aired, it then went on to become about one woman pursuing her medical career despite challenges and the other navigating her own life and loss. It wasn’t about two woman fighting over the male protagonist at all. The love story took a backseat. Hence, the show was enjoyed by many for their dramatic yet progressive approach.
Hindi shows that are inspired by these shows already have a clear path laid out for them. Even though a lot of them have been tweaked to suit pan-Indian tastes, following an already successful path makes it easy for the makers, who have to churn out an episode 6 days a week.
However, not everyone is pleased with this barrage of remakes. Many viewers feel that these remakes are taking space meant for original scripts and ideas. These remakes are also usually dramas and many think that other genres like comedy are suffering because of them.
Still, national channels don’t seem to be stopping any time soon. If reports are to be believed, producers are ready with the scripts of more shows that will be remade in Hindi. Titli, a Star Jalsha show about a deaf girl is reportedly in the pipeline. The latest hit Star Jalsha show, Khorkuto, will also be remade in Hindi. The Bengali show started airing in August 2020 and is at the top of the charts.
It is clear that Hindi remakes of Bengali shows is a highly lucrative trend which will continue for a long time. Even though national channels are benefitted more from their regional counterpart, they help these regional stories to reach more people through remakes. In a way, it is a symbiotic relationship.