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Cinelicious Pics, Adi Shankar Banking On “Tarantino Of Bollywood” With 5 1/2 Hour Crime Epic ‘Gangs Of Wasseypur’

By | Monday July 7, 2014 @ 2:05pm PDT

Cinelicious Pics, Adi Shankar Banking On “Tarantino Of Bollywood” With 5 1/2 Hour Crime Epic ‘Gangs Of Wasseypur’EXCLUSIVE: After launching in June, newbie indie/art house distributor Cinelicious Pics has struck a deal to bring acclaimed five-and-a-half-hour Bollywood new wave crime epic Gangs of Wasseypur to North America. The film is the latest from Anurag Kashyap (Black Friday, Dev D, Ugly, and Michael Winterbottom’s Trishna), the Indian filmmaker whose bullets ‘n’ blood-soaked saga has earned him a reputation as the Scorsese/Tarantino of Bollywood.

Kashyap co-wrote, produced, and directed the Godfather-esque pic tracking 70 violent years in the lives of two mafia families battling for control over the coal mining town of Wasseypur, based on the real-life gang wars between two families in the cash-strapped industrial region. Cinelicious will release the film this fall in NY and LA in two parts, to be presented stateside by film producer Adi Shankar (The Grey, Lone Survivor).

Gangs of WasseypurSo how does a neophyte specialty distributor strategize the release of a 319-minute foreign language picture? One of the film’s producers, Guneet Monga, produced The Lunchbox, the Irrfan Khan starrer that’s become the most successful foreign-language movie of 2014 in the States. Monga and Kashyap turned to Indian-born Shankar to help bring Gangs to the action-hungry U.S. audiences that connected with his R-rated actioners Dredd, Killing Them Softly, Machine Gun Preacher, and The Grey as well as the viral Marvel superhero fan videos Shankar has produced and released online. Shankar will boost the pic to his fan base online and at events like New York Comic-Con in October, where he’s scheduled to appear.

adi shankarGangs is such an important and monumental movie for my people – it marks our emergence as an international cinematic powerhouse,” said Shankar. “America has The Godfather, Korea has Oldboy, Japan has Battles Without Honor & Humanity, Hong Kong has Infernal Affairs, Brazil has City of God, and now India has Gangs of Wasseypur.” Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: Anurag Kashyap Petitioning India’s High Court Over Anti-Smoking Disclaimer; Berlin’s Zoo Palast Reopening; More

By | Tuesday November 26, 2013 @ 10:00pm PST

Anurag Kashyap To Petition India’s High Court Over Anti-Smoking Disclaimer
Indian director Anurag Kashyap is reportedly filing a petition with the High Court of Mumbai against the local censor board after it sought to have the filmmaker insert a government-mandated anti-smoking warning into his drama Ugly. The movie, which debuted in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, is set for release on January 3 in its home territory. The Bollywood Hungama blog says Kashyap contends the disclaimers, which would appear when anyone lights up on screen, restrain filmmakers’ rights to freedom of speech and expression. Per the blog, Kashyap claims the warning also destroys the aesthetic value of a film and distracts the audience. India’s censors cracked down on smoking last year, and last month Woody Allen pulled his Blue Jasmine from release in India over the disclaimers.

Berlin’s Historic Zoo Palast Reopening After Renovation
Berlin’s Zoo Palast cinema is to reopen on Thursday after a major renovation. AFP reports that the former Cold War-era theater will have seating for 1,650 moviegoers in seven screening rooms. The theater originally opened in 1919 as the Ufa-Palast am Zoo and was the largest cinema in Germany until 1929. It was a major location for film premieres, including Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph Of The Will under the Nazis in 1935. It was destroyed in a 1943 Allied bombing raid and replaced in 1957 by the Zoo Palast. The recent three-year restoration cost €7.4M ($10.1M), according to AFP. The Zoo Palast also was part of the Berlin International Film Festival until 1999 when the fest moved its center of activity to Potsdamer Platz. Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: Anurag Kashyap Takes On India’s Anti-Smoking Disclaimer; ‘Krrish 3′ Tops Local Boxoffice; More

By | Friday November 8, 2013 @ 10:00pm PST

Anurag Kashyap Battling India’s Anti-Smoking Disclaimer Over ‘Ugly’
Last month, Woody Allen pulled his Blue Jasmine from release in India, rather than allow government-mandated anti-smoking warnings to be inserted onscreen during two scenes when characters light up. Now, local director Anurag Kashyap is reportedly refusing to have the disclaimer stamped on his film Ugly. The movie, which debuted in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, is set for release on January 3 in its home territory. India’s censors cracked down on smoking last year, and the Bollywood Hungama blog says Kashyap and the censor are in talks over the issue. Kashyap is one of a new breed of directors who steps out of the norm of Bollywood using the influences of Scorsese, Tarantino and Leone. He also produced Cannes darling The Lunchbox, which was controversially not chosen to be India’s Oscar entry this year. Coincidentally, in 2007, Kashyap directed a film titled No Smoking.

‘Krrish 3′ Tops India Box Office, Eyes Top Spot For 2013
Bollywood superstar Hrithik Roshan’s latest outing, Krrish 3, is the third in a superhero franchise that’s skyrocketed to the top of the local box office charts. With 166.52 crore ($26.5M) at the end of its first week, the film has become the 3rd-highest grosser for the year and could be on track to overtake the No. 1 and No. 2 movies if things keep up apace. Krrish 3, which opened over the Diwali holiday, already has broken a first-week record set by 2013′s No. 1 movie, Chennai Express, the Shah Rukh Khan-Deepika Padukone starrer that opened over the Eid al Fitr holiday in August. Chennai took $24.8M in its first week. Krrish 3 bested the No. 2 film of the year, Yeh Jawaani Hai Dewaani, in opening day, weekend and week’s takings. That film’s final tally was $29.8M which Krrish now looks set to overtake. It will need a little extra muscle to displace Chennai which has a total cume of $35.8M. In the UK, Krrish 3 beat Yeh Jawaani’s opening weekend gross of £405,784 with £408,627. It lagged Chennai Express which had opened there with an impressive £934,118 in August. In the U.S. Krrish 3 brought in $1.1M in its opening weekend last week, according to Bollywood Hungama figures. Roshan next stars in Fox Star’s Bang Bang. Read More »

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India Oscar Controversy: Film Body Demands Apology From ‘Lunchbox’ Helmer As Questions Linger Over ‘Good Road’ Pick

Ever since it debuted in Cannes and was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics, Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox was largely considered the favorite to be submitted by India as the Foreign Language Oscar entry. But last week, the selection committee chose Gyan Correa’s The Good Road. In the intervening days, The Lunchbox filmmakers, local and international press and other pundits have decried the choice. The committee in turn demanded an apology from Lunchbox helmer Batra for “unsavoury comments” that crossed a boundary, it said in a long letter. Batra produced his mea culpas today, but also urged a rethink of the way films are chosen. Batra wrote, “I sincerely hope that the annual reactions to our Academy selections from the national press, and this year from even the international press, prompt a new policy for the selection. Sir, please use your good offices to give us a transparent, objective process with a public and not a secret jury. It is a direct and humble request, not a criticism.”

Related: India Oscar Pic ‘The Good Road’ Confounds
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Showbiz In India: Bollywood Shifting At Home & Abroad; Will Talent Cross Over?

This is the latest in Deadline’s series of reports on the people, projects and polemics that have folks buzzing in various overseas territories.

The International Indian Film Academy Awards just announced the event will travel to the U.S. for the first time next year, settling in Tampa, Florida in June. The move is one that’s likely to up the profile of Indian cinema Stateside where Bollywood isn’t typically top of mind among moviegoers. But heat on Indian cinema and talent is growing with movies like Yeh Jawaani Hai Dawaani, actors like Ranbir Kapoor and multi-hyphenates like Anurag Kashyap making waves. A question remains, however, on how closely the twains of Hollywood and Bollywood can ever meet.

India celebrated the 100th birthday of Hindi cinema in Cannes in May, turning a spotlight on the industry. Then last month, romcom Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani broke into the U.S. top ten upon release. The film’s success at home and abroad was partly because it’s the kind of “mushy romance we hadn’t seen in a while,” a producer who works in India and the UK tells me. Star Ranbir Kapoor is one of Bollywood’s hottest actors right now, also a key factor in Yeh Jawaani‘s success. He hails from a showbiz family and studied at the Lee Strasberg school in New York. With a sort of Ryan Gosling look, Kapoor is “the next one to be considered the Shah Rukh Khan-level mega-star” in India, a studio exec says.

Fanning the flames, Kapoor just won the best actor prize for 2012′s Barfi! at the Indian Film Academy Awards which were held this weekend in Macau. The romantic comedy was India’s 2012 Oscar entry. (Its title may be unappetizing to American ears – it’s the lead character’s name and also a condensed milk-based sweet – but it was one of Bollywood’s highest-grossing films of the year.) It also won several prizes at January’s Filmfare Awards including top picture and actor; Kapoor played a deaf-mute man involved with two women.

Kapoor’s Yeh Jawaani co-star Deepika Padukone is next up in Chennai Express. Padukone is an established actress who broke out in 2007′s Om Shanti Om. Chennai Express has the distinction of going out on August 8, the eve of India’s Eid al Fitr holiday. Beginning in 2008, films toplined by Indian superstar Salman Khan staked a claim on the Eid holiday which celebrates the end of Ramadan. With Khan’s next big production, Mental, not releasing until the January Republic Day weekend, the Eid spot is ripe for another comer with big box office potential. Conventional wisdom says it will be Chennai Express. (Chennai Express, like Yeh Jawaani, hails from UTV in which Disney has a strategic stake.) The love story cum road movie is directed by Rohit Shetty (the Golmaal franchise, Bol Bachchan) and, with Padukone, stars the iconic screen giant Shah Rukh Khan, making it one to watch. If Chennai follows Yeh Jawaani‘s path, Khan should be happy. He has said that his dedication is to getting Indian films seen by the world rather than having his own career in Hollywood. Read More »

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Amitabh Bachchan, Anurag Kashyap Team For Indian Drama Series From Endemol, Sony

Legendary Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan is to star in his first ever TV drama series. The untitled Endemol India co-production is being made for Sony Entertainment Television India. Hot writer-director Anurag Kashyap, whose Gangs Of Wasseypur and Ugly ran consecutively in the last two Cannes Directors’ Fortnight sections, is developing the project. Endemol India conceived the series that’s described as an epic drama, although details are being kept close to the vest. Bachchan’s company Saraswati Creations is co-producing. Bachchan, who has acted in more than 180 films, recently made his Hollywood debut in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. He’s previously hosted the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and the local version of Endemol format Big Brother, known in India as Big Boss. Kashyap was involved in four movies that played Cannes last month. Along with directing Ugly, he helmed a segment of Bombay Talkies, co-produced Monsoon Shootout and produced Critics’ Week title The Lunchbox which Sony Pictures Classics acquired. Endemol India was founded in 2006 and is a partnership between Endemol and The Chernin Group’s Asian investment arm, CA Media.

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