Indian Films' Sales Pitch Peaks at Cannes

by Saibal Chatterjee/IANS

Cannes, May 20: With "Slumdog Millionaire" having made waves on the global scene, Indian movie themes and filmmakers are beginning to reap the benefits in the international sales and co-productions arena at the ongoing Cannes Film Market.

" 'Slumdog' has opened a door for Indian cinema," says Hollywood producer Ashok Amritraj. "We have to put our foot in and capitalise on the opportunity."

The happy augury is that several Indian films have been picked up for global distribution by frontline sales agents and the going could only get better from here on if filmmakers from this part of the world, as Amritraj points out, can learn the rules of the game.

The Indian Film Company (TIFC) has made history by selling its "Road, Movie", written and directed by Dev Benegal, to Fortissimo Films, which is one of the world's leading sales agents with offices in Amsterdam, London, Paris, New York and Hong Kong.

"'Road, Movie' is an important milestone in our company's endeavour to support India's growth on the cinematic world stage," said Sandeep Bhargava, CEO of the advisory board of TIFC.

TIFC has also got leading British distribution company HanWay Films on board to handle Gurinder Chadha's "It's a Wonderful Afterlife", starring Golden Globe winner Sally Hawkins, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Jimi Mistry and Shabana Azmi.

Endeavour Independent has bought the distribution rights of Venus Records and Tapes' "Hisss", a Hindi-English film directed by Jennifer Lynch and starring Irrfan Khan and Mallika Sherawat.

Also playing for big global stakes is Ambika Hinduja's Serendipity Films. It is pitching the Leena Yadav-directed "Teen Patti" for widespread global sales in the Cannes Film Market. The film features Amitabh Bachchan, Ben Kingsley, R. Madhavan and Saira Mohan.

"We want to make cinema that will appeal to audiences in both India and around the world," Hinduja, whose previous production was Homi Adjania's wickedly quirky "Being Cyrus", told Variety here.

India's biggest entertainment sector player, Reliance Big Pictures, has brought a slew of arthouse films, besides Anurag Basu's Hrithik Roshan-Barbara Mori starrer "Kites", to the Cannes market. The response, company representatives say, has been hugely encouraging.

Big Pictures' offbeat regional line-up includes Buddhadeb Dasgupta's "Janala" (Bengali), Shaji N. Karun's "Kutty Srank" (Malayalam), Amol Palekar's "Samantar" (Marathi), M.S. Sathyu's "Ijjudu" (Kannada), and Rituparno Ghosh's "Abohomaan" and "Shob Charitra Kalponik" (both Bengali).

"We will be unveiling these films in various major festivals in the coming months," says Reliance Entertainment chairman Amit Khanna.


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