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 »