At first glance, a country covered by more than half in desert does not seem to an epicenter of entertainment exports. However, around sixteen years ago, Israeli producers and writers started looking at the entertainment industry with a new perspective altogether. The moment they realized that well-funded shows with expensive graphics were out of scope, the creative community, which is largely centered in Tel-Aviv, began producing formats for television shows which they could then sell to countries with big budgets in order to produce them. It all started with the very popular psychotherapy drama Betipul, which was later adapted into an HBO drama In Treatment and more versions in other countries were created thereafter. Post Betipul came the success of Hatufim, an Israeli series about three prisoners of war who return home after years in captivity, which was then made into the highly acclaimed TV series Homeland, about the home-coming of an American prisoner of war.
Ever since, almost every Israeli series, be it game-shows, reality shows, drama, comedy, has been picked up by an American studio or other channels around the world. While Israel is known as the ‘Start-Up’ nation of the world due to its advancements in the domain of technology, medicine and R&D across several sectors, it is also increasingly becoming known for its originality and inventiveness in the TV formats industry. So why is it that Israeli TV is on top of the box? A very important reason for the high demand of Israeli content is the fact that the plots are most often than not about real occurrences. For instance, Israel being a small country with a small community, and all the citizens being trained in the army on a mandatory basis, the subject of prisoners of war becomes quite personal with people being more responsive to the combination of everyday stories and real-life happenings in the backdrop of national drama. The current trend of Israeli series is deep-rooted in the security and geopolitical situations which gain a lot of interest worldwide with action and spy dramas being the popular ones. While on one hand, this correlates to the requirements of the industry, on the other hand, it is important to realize that Israel has these stories to tell.
Closer home, the internationally appreciated Hatufim has been adapted as a series called POW – Bandi Yuddh Ke (Prisoners of War) for the Indian audience. Similar to the Israeli plotline, which was also the base of the very successful American show Homeland, it focuses on two soldiers who return home after spending 17 years in captivity. Also lined-up is a competition for singing aspirants based on an Israeli format to identify the best talent in a unique and innovative manner. After receiving a splendid response in countries like Israel, USA, Russia, Indonesia, Argentina and more, the show is finally coming to India with a format that assures to bring-in a complete transformation in TV programming.