Have you ever ordered one thing on-line and have been left flabbergasted after a low-cost copy of the unique reached you? Effectively, you will perceive the emotions whereas watching Zee TV’s Hello Friends, a blatant copy of the long-lasting Friends that was made in India in 1999. As Friends: The Reunion is all set to stream in India on ZEE5 on Might 27, right here’s revisiting its desi clone, which was cringe-inducingly dangerous.
Whereas the American sitcom launched in 1994, Zee TV premiered the clone 5 years later. In a bid to seize younger viewers’s consideration. It starred VJs — Cyrus Broacha, Maria Goretti and Nikhil Chinapa within the lead roles, together with Simone Singh, Anil Dimri and Aparna Bannerjee. The unique starred Courtney Cox, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry.
If you handle to observe a few episodes, which can be found on YouTube, you will realise that the makers didn’t must spend a single penny on scriptwriters, given the episodes are designed precisely like the unique. The characters will be thought of replicas of the fab six — Chandler, Monica, Joey, Ross, Rachel and Phoebe. Two minutes into the primary episode and you will really feel just like the actors are mouthing the identical dialogues, solely in Hindi.
Whereas Cyrus performs a copywriter with a dry sense of humour (Chandler), Simone’s Sanjana is the perfectionist, a la Monica. Nikhil Chinapa performs her brooding brother Vikram (Ross), Amit is a struggling actor Rahul like Joey, whereas Maria performs the eccentric Penny, a riff on Phoebe. Central Perk, the espresso home the ‘associates’ hanged out within the authentic sequence, grew to become ‘Uncle Sam’s Cafe’. In contrast to the unique’s Gunther, Uncle Sam, performed by Kunal Vijaykar, was fairly pleasant with the troupe.
Loyal followers of Friends have been additionally left heartbroken to understand that ‘Hello Friends’ not simply copied the whole script but in addition the set, parallel characters and background tales. Nevertheless, they did some tweaking to match Indians sensibilities and tradition, particularly within the 90s. For instance, Vikram’s spouse was not proven as a lesbian however left him for an additional man. He was additionally simply a geek not like Ross’ paleontologist. Given nobody ever remembers what was Chandler’s occupation, the character Cyrus within the Indian sequence was already into promoting, a job Chandler took later within the present. Simone’s Sanjana was a costume designer and not a chef like Monica.
Whereas the makers would have felt that holding the present near the unique would assist impress the native viewers, the technique backfired. Folks in contrast the 2 and discovered the copy missing in nearly each division.
As anticipated, Hello Friends may solely final for 26 episodes, and acquired a disastrous 1.4 ranking on IMDb. Final yr, when a clip from the video went viral, Nikhil Chinapa had shared stills from the present, and appeared shocked that it took 21 years for the world to find it. He wrote, “On reflection, I wouldn’t change this for the world. It was silly, it was enjoyable and for my part, it was so dangerous, it was good (in a mildly psychotic method). 🤪 I additionally liked working with the solid. Most individuals don’t know this however us VJs barely frolicked collectively – we have been continually travelling to varied cities. This was a unbelievable alternative to hang around, eat samosas and smash our stunning Hindi language (thanks Cyrus!) 😄.”
Maria Goretti, in an interview, additionally shared that the rationale for the present’s brief stint was as a result of actors weren’t eager to reprise the roles for a second run. She additionally shared that the group didn’t know that Hello Friends can be an apparent carry of the NBC present.
“I assumed it’d be a enjoyable present about associates dwelling in Mumbai, however after we reached the set, learn the screenplay etcetera, we realised what we had signed up for. To be sincere, that was truly a little heartbreaking,” she advised The Print. Cyrus Broacha, in his inimitable type, additional joked that his mother and father divorced him after the present aired and that “I hid in an deserted warehouse for over three months”.
The a lot anticipated Friends: The Reunion will stream on ZEE5 in India and on HBO Max within the US on Might 27. The group of Friends will come collectively on the unique soundstage, Stage 24, on the Warner Bros. Studio lot in Burbank for a real-life unscripted celebration of the beloved present.