Agatha Christie SonyLIV Series ‘Charlie Chopra’ Set for Franchise Expansion by Vishal Bhardwaj (EXCLUSIVE)

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The world of detective Charlie Chopra, based on characters created by Agatha Christie, is set to have a prolonged life in India as a franchise.

“Charlie Chopra & The Mystery Of Solang Valley,” based on Christie’s 1931 novel “The Sittaford Mystery,” was adapted as a series for Indian streamer SonyLIV by renowned filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj.

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Set in the mountains of Himachal Pradesh, northern India, the series follows the journey of Charlie Chopra and her quest to uncover a murder mystery alongside her sidekick Sitaram. Bhardwaj served as director and co-producer and co-screenwriter alongside Anjum Rajabali and Jyotsna Hariharan. The cast includes Wamiqa Gabbi, Priyanshu Painyuli, Naseeruddin Shah, Neena Gupta, Ratna Pathak Shah, Gulshan Grover, Lara Dutta, Chandan Roy Sanyal and Paoli Dam.

Vishal Bhardwaj Pictures produced with Priti Shahani’s Tusk Tale Films in association with Agatha Christie Limited. James Prichard, Basi Akpabio and Leo Dezoysa served as executive producers on the show on behalf of Agatha Christie Limited.

The pilot dropped on June 30, with the remaining episodes streaming from Sept. 27.

“Charlie Chopra and her sidekick Sitaram should continue, their story should remain unresolved and they should continue solving cases. This is the idea,” Bhardwaj told Variety. “The Sittaford Mystery” is a standalone novel and unlike in the Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple series, the characters don’t recur in other Christie books. However, Charlie Chopra will live on, even if the plot is not from a work by Christie.

“What we’ve decided is that the character will continue even if I don’t use an Agatha Christie plot – they [Agatha Christie Limited] will still be my producers,” Bhardwaj said. “It’s not bound to or restricted to Agatha Christie, but Agatha Christie Limited is my partner in this, so Charlie Chopra cannot solve any case without them.”

Christie has a huge fan following in the Indian subcontinent with several films being inspired by her works over the years. On adapting her work for the market Bhardwaj says, “At the end of the day, all human beings are the same, we behave the same way. But our characteristics are different. Our languages are different. And sometimes what happens when you don’t like a character written in the book but you like their arc and graph what they are serving the plot, I change the character and keep their role in the plot.”

Bhardwaj is best known internationally for his acclaimed Shakespeare trilogy “Maqbool,” (Macbeth) “Omkara” (Othello) and “Haider” (Hamlet) – all of which operated in a dark space. “I want to come out of this cage,” says Bhardwaj for whom “Charlie Chopra” is one of his most mainstream works and designed for “people who want to be entertained, because sometimes you want to become a kid while you’re watching.”

“This is a very massy show, I was not making any political comment,” says Bhardwaj. “It has its own layer and depth, but obviously, if you are looking for ‘King Lear’ or ‘Julius Caesar,’ it’s not there. But I’m happy because I loved making the show. I’m the first audience of my own work and when I watched it, I really loved it. I felt very nice that what I went out to achieve, I did that.”

Next up for Bhardwaj is Netflix original film “Khufiya,” based on the novel “Escape to Nowhere,” written by a former chief of counter espionage, Amar Bhushan, which sees top actor Tabu (recent titles “Drishyam 2,” “Andhadhun”) as an operative on a mission that requires her to juggle roles as a spy and a lover. It also stars Ali Fazal (“Mirzapur,” “Victoria & Abdul”), “Charlie Chopra” star Wamiqa Gabbi and Azmeri Haque Badhon (“Rehana”).

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