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).
So 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.
“Gangs 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.”