Series Review: Call My Agent – Bollywood

Series Review: Call My Agent – Bollywood

Starring: Soni Razdan, Rajat Kapoor, Aahana Kumra, Ayush Mehra, Radhika Seth, Tinnu Anand

Director: Shaad Ali

There is a somewhat welcome streaming trend of popular international shows being franchised for home-grown versions, which are attuned to the Indian milieu and sensibilities. This latest Netflix comedy drama falls within that stream, taking its cue from the hugely popular French series ‘Call My Agent’.

ART is a successful Bollywood film talent management agency in Mumbai that finds itself rudderless with the sudden death of its founder and boss (Anand). Internal wrangling for the top job ensues, with Monty (Kapoor) assuming it would be a shoo-in for him. But the plucky Amal (Kumra) has other ideas and has the full backing of her friend and colleague Mehershaad (Mehra). Attempting to bring some semblance of order among these bunch of squabbling co-workers is the wiser and more experienced Treasa (Razdan), strutting around the busy office with her dog in toe – named after her dead husband Pankaj.

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The entry of Nia (Seth), Monty’s illegitimate daughter, into this office set-up shakes things up quite firmly – not just for her father’s personal but also professional life. Nia is on the hunt for a job in the world of film talent management and is keen to learn the ropes from the best. Fate conspires in her favour when Amal, oblivious to Nia’s relationship with Monty, impulsively hires her to replace a long-suffering assistant who decides to up and quit.

Adding to the array of these central characters are a flurry of Bollywood actors and filmmakers on the agency’s rosters – from the ageing woes of Diya Mirza and the tantrums of Jackie Shroff to the artistic fervour of Nandita Das and mother’s guilt of Lara Dutta. Navigating these celebrity demands alongside their own personal lives proves quite an ART for all its workers.

The premise of this show cannot be faulted – it is a tried and tested formula set by the French original which is packed with wit and humour and went on to run for four seasons. It is, therefore, clever of the Bollywood avatar not to try and tinker with the basic storyline too much. However, where it falls way short is in hitting exactly the right emotional and comical notes.

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While some of the veteran actors are spot-on with their performances, they are left floundering by a lacklustre script and uninspired direction. The result is a show visibly suffers from the delusion that it is funnier than it is.

While it is unlikely this will even get a second season in its current form, it may be worth dipping into Season One just to spot some iconic Bollywood actors – including yesteryears’ child actor Sarika with her newcomer daughter Akshara Haasan and filmmaker Farah Khan – all of whom try their best to inject some pizzazz into the weak script.

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