The Univision owned TeleFutura network is airing “India” a 2009 Brazilian production that tells a story of forbidden love between a low-class ‘unsuitable’ Dalit man, and an upper-class woman. Set in India and Brazil, the telenovela originally titled “Caminho das Índias” (Road to India) was such a hit in Brazil, that TeleFutura brought it to the U.S., hoping it would become just as popular here. And it has.
“It was definitely a production that caught our attention; we’re delighted to bring this seemingly different culture to the U.S. Spanish-language media. We wanted to bring a completely different product to our viewers.” said Bert Medina, the network’s senior vice president.
“It was a very interesting process for us,” he said. “There is such a growing fascination with Indian culture in the United States. It felt like a natural move to expand the Indian phenomenon into the Hispanic U.S. community through TeleFutura.” Medina added
By acquiring “India,” TeleFutura, which broadcasts to 62.9 million homes in the U.S., is joining in on the “India phenomenon,” started by the recent inclusion of South Asian characters in soap operas and tv series, such as “Glee,” “The Good Wife,” “Royal Pains,” “Parks and Recreation,” “30 Rock” “The Office” and “Community.”
“India,” a 2009 International Emmy winner, has been dubbed into Spanish for the TeleFutura audience. Following in the steps of several Spanish-language networks the network also offers closed captions of the series in English, trying to conquer American audiences.
But Indian scholars are not too pleased with the soap, and worry that the production perpetuates stereotypes and clichés that are staples of media portrayals of India, but not necessarily true depictions.
“It is as if it’s a Bollywood production, stripped of historical and political depth,” said Rini B. Mehta, a professor of comparative and world literature at the University of Illinois, based on clips she watched online. “Everything is touched on in broad strokes. It’s based on a social concept, the caste system, that is now forbidden. This is not the real India. Even if parts of it were shot there.”
The series was filmed in India, Dubai and Brazil and features Brazilian actors speaking in Portuguese as well as bits of Hindi like “Arre Baba!” (Oh my goodness!) peppered throughout.
The telenovela airs at 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and has averaged about 900,000 viewers since launching in October, 2010.
“It was a very interesting process for us,” he said. “There is such a growing fascination with Indian culture in the United States. It felt like a natural move to expand the Indian phenomenon into the Hispanic U.S. community through TeleFutura.”