The English-language series based on John Le Carré’s 1993 novel The Night Manager is on Prime Video. A Hindi version with the same title is now out on Disney+ Hotstar. Resolute is the viewer who doesn’t dash across to Prime Video to find out how a game of risky deception plays out.

The viewer might be tempted by the Hindi adaptation’s truncated run. Rather than releasing the season at one go, Disney+ Hotstar has put out only four episodes that end on an extended trailer telling us what to expect (and hoping we don’t amble across to Prime Video).

As compensation, perhaps, the Hindi creators offer big-name film actors (Aditya Roy Kapur, Anil Kapoor), tweaks to the source material, a more linear narrative, and Indian-style sentimentality. Continental coldness – embodied by leading man Tom Hiddleston – has made way for subcontinental warmth. The hotel employee Shaan is haunted by the death of a teenager rather than his departed lover.

The Hindi series has been created by Sandeep Modi and written by him and Shridhar Raghavan. Modi has also directed the episodes along with Priyanka Ghose.

Ravi Behl, Anil Kapoor and Saswata Chatterjee in The Night Manager (2023). Courtesy The Ink Factory/Banijay Asia/Disney+ Hotstar.

In 2017 in Dhaka, Shaan (Aditya Roy Kapur) becomes the unwitting messenger of crucial information about the elusive arms dealer Shelly (Anil Kapoor). The courier – the underage wife of Shelly’s henchman – is killed after being betrayed. Back in Delhi, intelligence officer Lipika (Tillotama Shome) persuades Shaan to continue the good work. Moved by the teenager’s senseless death, he agrees. The plan involves Shaan assuming a new identity, infiltrating Shelly’s operation, dodging Shelley’s crafty aide Brijpal (Saswata Chatterjee), and trying not to fall for Shelly’s sultry girlfriend Kaveri (Sobhita Dhulipala).

Like the always dapper Shelly, The Night Manager is well styled but insubstantial, at least in the episodes available for viewing. The constant thrum of danger in the British production, with the threat of discovery always imminent, has been replaced by a generalised will-he-get-away-with-it suspense.

If Anil Kapoor’s Shelly has the suavity of a crooked entrepreneur rather than the killer instinct of a deathmonger, Aditya Roy Kapur parleys his pin-up status for a part that doesn’t ask too much of him. Sobhita Dhulipala brings vulnerability to her glamorised role, apart from adding a meta-touch by clutching a copy of Le Carré’s novel in a scene.

The secondary players always have the better scenes. Some clever casting choices help ease high-stakes material that made perfect sense in a Western geopolitical context into Indian terrain.

Tillotama Shome in The Night Manager (2023). Courtesy The Ink Factory/Banijay Asia/Disney+ Hotstar.

Saswata Chatterjee is an inspired casting choice as Shelley’s enforcer Brijpal (Tom Hollander played the part in the British production). Slimy, sharp and eternally (and correctly) suspicious of Shaan, Brijpal is the most convincing courtier of Shelly’s empire. (The posse includes Ravi Behl and Ruksaar as a squabbling couple.) Joy Sengupta, as Lipika’s put-upon boss Danish, who must tolerate his obnoxious boss (Vikram Kapadia), is excellent in a handful of scenes.

The show’s most valued player is Tillotama Shome, who steps into Olivia Coleman’s large shoes and makes the part her own. Deceptively bumbling, resourceful, and ruthless when she needs to be, Shome’s Lipika is a perfectly judged scene-stealer who gives the defanged remake the bite it is missing when its leads are around.

The Night Manager (2023).