Photo Credit: Disney, Amazon
Lionsgate Play's first Indian original series is a remake of Casual, the critically-acclaimed American comedy-drama that ran for four seasons on Hulu (and is available on Amazon Prime Video in India). The Indian remake of Casual will have Lara Dutta (Don 2) and Prateik Babbar (Four More Shots Please!) in lead roles, with Kunal Kohli (Hum Tum) set as director. Dutta and Babbar will play siblings, a newly-divorced single mother and her younger once-entrepreneurial brother, respectively, who decide to live together after her divorce and co-raise the former's teenage daughter.
Michaela Watkins, Tommy Dewey, and Tara Lynne Barr played the respective roles originally in Casual. The Hulu series was developed by Zander Lehmann, who based some events of the show on his own life, having lived for three years with his younger sister during their parents' divorce. Jason Reitman, the director of Juno and Up in the Air, was an executive producer on Casual and directed several of the 44 half-hour episodes. Casual was otherwise known for employing female directors for most of its episodes. The American series was nominated for a Golden Globe for best series.
Casual is an interesting choice for Lionsgate Play's first Indian original given it promised “high-budget premium Indian originals” back in December when it (officially) launched its own app, outside of the Airtel, Jio, and Vi experience that it was initially housed in. Casual is not a show that requires a big budget. But it does fit the adult-content focus, which Lionsgate Play hopes will make it a complementary offering to the big players in Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, and Amazon Prime Video.
For Lionsgate Play, Casual is its own IP as the Hulu series was also produced by Lionsgate Television. Could the American studio dig deeper into its catalogue for future Indian originals? After all, it has more critically-acclaimed series on its books, including the likes of period drama Mad Men, the medical comedy-drama Nurse Jackie, and the prison comedy-drama Orange Is the New Black.
There are more Indian originals already in the works at Lionsgate Play. Kohli was part of a talent list revealed back in December, alongside Anil Kapoor, Mukesh Bhatt, and Akarsh Khurana, and studios such as Endemol Shine.
“The launch of Lionsgate Play's first slate of original series in India is the next logical step in the continued rapid growth of the platform,” Lionsgate Television Group chairman Kevin Beggs said in a prepared statement. “Our ability to kick off the Lionsgate Play original slate with the remake of a great intellectual property like Casual, with a renowned director and world-class stars, shows what we can achieve through the continued collaboration of our Starz, Lionsgate Television and Lionsgate India businesses.”
Rohit Jain, Lionsgate's managing director for South Asia, mentions “our first line-up of original series with a great slate of accomplished writers, directors and actors” in his prepared remarks, which suggests that Lionsgate Play will make more announcements on the Indian originals track soon.