Inside Move: Fancy footwork for ‘Lagaan’

Bollywood favorite scores U.S. wickets

An epic tale of colonial India stuffed with song-and-dance numbers — de rigueur in Bollywood films — “Lagaan” has turned into an unlikely blockbuster for distrib Sony Entertainment Television Pictures.

Despite a daunting running time of 223 minutes, mostly Hindi dialogue and an abundance of bootleg copies of the pic in the Indian community, “Lagaan” has quietly grossed more than $1 million in North America since its June 15 release. It’s also nabbed more than £1 million ($1.5 million) in the U.K. and enjoyed successful runs in Europe and South Africa.

India’s official submission for the foreign-language Oscar race, “Lagaan” is an entertaining stew of oppressed local farmers, villainous Brits, revolt, romance — and cricket.

Rave reviews and A-list fest kudos helped it cross over to non-Indian auds. “It’s clearly been the most successful film that Sony Entertainment Television has distributed,” says Michael Grindon, president of Columbia TriStar Intl. TV.

With an eye on such crossover possibilities, SET India also has a couple of other projects in the works. “We’re looking to expand that activity. Our primary focus is what will work in India, and if we find a film that will work well throughout the world — that would be terrific,” says Grindon.

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