Exclusive: Gary Pudney talks about ‘Prisoners of War’ Hindi remake on Star Plus

BizAsia interviewed Gary Pudney who joined Keshet International as Head of Asia in September 2015. He is charged with overseeing the company’s new Hong Kong office and growing the business throughout the region, both licensing KI formats and acquiring local IP for international distribution.


23rd March 2016    10:42

Gary Pudney

Gary Pudney

What do you think it is about ‘Prisoners of War’, that has made it the success it is today?
The story and script of this premium property is very realistic and believable, which also makes it gripping. Since its set in contemporary times, it resonates in today’s politically complex and conflicted world. That said, localisation and market orientation is also key to the show’s success – it’s the combination of the original format and an ingenious adaptation which makes makes this such a versatile and successful piece of IP.

You recently signed a deal with Star Plus for the Indian adaption rights of the show, how did this come about?
Star knows what it wants and knows a good script when they see it. They are at the forefront of the industry when it comes to pushing the boundaries of the Indian audience so they took to the concept immediately. However, the deal was actually a long time in the making. As with any series of this calibre, it took time for the pieces to fall into place, to find the right writer and director and cast – because it will be Star’s biggest scripted investment to date so everything had to be perfect.

With Indian television following a particular pattern of programming, do you feel audiences would be prepared for ‘Prisoners Of War’?
A large part of the audience know of Prisoners of War via its American counterpart (Homeland) so there is already an excitement in the market as it waits for its own reincarnation of the concept. This will of course be fortified by Star’s marketing department and the super strong cast they have lined up. I am sure Prisoners of War will take the audience by storm and garner much critical acclaim because the local take on the subject matter is very, very appealing.

Of course the back-story of the series will be changed and nuances fine-tuned for local social and political culture…

How did you rope in filmmaker Nikhil Advani to direct the Indian adaption?
Star did actually. Their senior executives and Nikhil had been talking for some time about a TV series co-operation/production. Nikhil has impeccable standards and would only work on very high end series, I’m delighted to say that Prisoners of War matched with his tough criteria.

How do you think the show would differ to cater for Indian audiences?
The Indian audience is becoming more and more sophisticated and with digital access it is already able to see what’s being produced in the West. Prisoners of War has been commissioned partially in response to this and by the need to push the boundaries of the genre’s and bring India something new. Of course the back-story of the series will be changed and nuances fine-tuned for local social and political culture, but the intention is (as with the original) for the relationships between these torn families, following their loved ones’ years of captivity, to be central theme of the series.

…you must allow your client to give the local writer the freedom to find their own voice and write a series that is original for their audience.

Has Keshet International applied any restrictions on Star Plus on how much they can modify the basis of the show?
While we are working very closely with STAR on the adaptations (series outline and plots, the main characters, etc) and are giving notes, as with any adaptation you must allow your client to give the local writer the freedom to find their own voice and write a series that is original for their audience.

‘Prisoners of War’ is a worldwide rage, are you planning to take the show in other territories for local versions?
Yes. We have high hopes for the property in other parts of Asia and should be able to announce several new productions in the near future. The beauty of this story is that it can work anywhere – it’s not just the West that has had success with its adaptations – but several other nation all over the world, each with their individual culture and local sensibilities.

‘Prisoners Of War’ (Hindi) will air soon on Star Plus.

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