Bollywood has been a hot topic for “controversies” for about a year, more than ever! Perhaps, Applause Entertainment realized this to be the most “clickbait” time to release its new series “Call My Agent Bollywood” on Netflix. Hence, when you find this series pushing itself upwards of Netflix’s top 10 in India, you know that their strategy worked out.
Despite the commendable timing, the makers did the most “Bollywood” thing, which is to “remake” an existing French comedy-drama “Call My Agent!” (Dix Pour Cent). The plot of the series intends to take the audience through “behind the scenes” or the real side of the world’s largest film industry. However, attempting to recreate every Parisian element of the original series, the show failed to live up to the realism in the Indian context.
Meet the Agents:
Quite like the title suggests, Call My Agent Bollywood revolves around the lives of four Bollywood agents working in a relentlessly cut-throat industry for an agency called ART. While working in the same industry (and agency), the four agents exhibit unique personas, the dynamics of which ornate the plot.
- Mehershad Sodawala (agent, ART): A level-headed and empathetic agent who manages to create genuine relations in an industry of sham
- Amal Ahmed (agent, ART): A bold and abrasive homosexual woman who faces trouble managing professional life with her personal
- Monty Behl (senior agent, ART): A mysterious, cut-throat ambitious man, always looked upon by his colleagues with skepticism
- Treasa Matthews (senior agent, ART): The seniormost agent at ART, who shares insights from her experience
The series evidently exhibited diversity through a Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Parsi amalgamation and more with a North-Eastern receptionist (and aspiring actress) and a lesbian couple. Like most Indian OTT content, this series displays a refreshing array of diversity often overlooked by mainstream media.
Bollywood’s Behind The Scenes:
With each episode, the series unravels several film industry issues through real celebrities in fictitious scenarios. It throws light on problems such as acute age-shaming of female actresses, ego wars between stars, family disparities in affecting professionalism, struggles of working mothers, on-again-off-again relations between co-actors, etc.
While the star-studded episodes manage to pique the audience’s interest in the show, it fails to make them deeply connect with the agents who are core to the storyline. Except for a few cliché comments on how “ruthless this industry gets” or the minimal attention given to the lives of struggling actors, the series misses out on most things that the audience would like to know about Bollywood. On the other hand, the series has made a praiseworthy effort to normalize homosexual relationships for the Indian masses by tapping on challenging topics like infidelity, facial reconstruction, and the agents’ unsettling lifestyles.
Themes, Sound, and Cinematography:
Similar to the Parisian themes of Dix Pour Cent, the themes of “Call My Agent Bollywood” screams flamboyance! The over-the-top visuals, with the over-the-top direction, and the over-the-top sound create nothing but a sensory overload for viewers. Not to forget, the mature language that most Indian makers consider just “necessary” for an OTT drama.
The theme music of the series by “Kaam Bhaari” is perhaps the most refreshing thing from the opening scene that evokes the audience the most. In contrast to the theme, the background sound effects are very overbearing and do not seem to leave the viewers even for a minute. What’s worse is that the direction seldom elicits the same emotions that the soundtrack intends for it!
While the series aims toward “realism,” the theatrical directions, such as all characters looking at the camera in the closing scene, are the most unbecoming (and unnecessary). Concerning cinematography, the camera movements were perhaps what saved the show by keeping the viewers engaged.
Call My Agent Bollywood is an attempt at many things and tries to strike a balance between “entertainment” and “realism.” As it is clear from the title, the series does not try to mask the fact that it is a remake, unlike the Turkish adaptation of the original.
Indian masses are still relatively new to bold and straightforward genres, like “Call My Agent Bollywood.” Hence, the novelty will attract more viewership and positive remarks from the audience (except the fans of “Dix Pour Cent”).
Regardless, despite many irregularities, season one managed to create some curiosity about what will happen next. If the following seasons improve, the series can successfully make viewers overlook the flaws in season one.
Call My Agent Bollywood is a 2021 Drama Comedy series directed by Shaad Ali. Season 1 is streaming on Netflix.