Cannes: India’s Azure Unveils Euro-Asian Remakes Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

Azure Entertainment, a Mumbai-based independent producer and financier, has unveiled a slate of a dozen western remakes.

Headlining the slate is a trio from France’s Gaumont, including a Hindi-remake of “Point Blank,” the Fred Cavaye-directed thriller that has also been remade in Korean — and now appears in Cannes as midnight screener “The Target.”

Indian companies have for decades infamously remade films from the U.S., Europe and Asia without licensing the rights. But as the Indian scene become more corporate and the stakes higher, authorized remakes are becoming more common.

Azure, headed by former Reliance and Adlabs executive Sunir Kheterpal, has amassed some $18 million of equity finance, which is matched by a similar amount of debt. He is deploying his capital to acquire established properties and to develop and package movies for the different Indian-language markets.

“We are looking for universal stories we can adapt, stories which are language and culturally agnostic,” Kheterpal told Variety.

“Our approach is to keep the company small and to finance the films ourselves. This enables us to make quick decisions. Once they are packaged then we can go to the [Indian] studios to talk about distribution. We make sure to acquire rights in all Indian languages and will typically consider the Hindi version first, but some may be more appropriate for other languages too.”

Azure has attached top directing talent.

Three of the four pictures it expects to put into production this year are helmed by National Award-winning directors.

Ravi K. Chandran, whose credits include “Dil chahta hai” as cinematographer, is attached to make his Hindi-language directorial debut on “Point Blank.”

Tigmanshu Dhulia (star of “Gangs of Wasseypur”) will direct the retread of Gaumont’s “Les Lyonnais” (aka “A Gang Story”), which was originally directed by Olivier Marchal.

Subhash Kapoor (“Jolly LLB”) will direct a Hindi version of “Sorte Kugler,” a Danish comedy about life’s second chances, repped by Nimbus Films.

Nishikant Kamat (“Mumbai meri jaan”) will direct Azure’s first picture, “Rocky Handsome,” a remake of the bloody Korean thriller “The Man From Nowhere.” The pic will star John Abraham (“Race 2.”)

Currently without a director attached is “Second Chance,” a 2014 remake of Nicolas Cuche’s “La Chance de ma Vie” acquired from Wild Bunch.

A remake of Gaumont’s Anthony Marciano-helmed romantic comedy “The Brats” is on the cards for 2015.

The Gaumont deals were negotiated Kheterpal and Yohann Comte, Gaumont’s deputy head of sales.

Still undated are remakes of two Spanish-language titles — “A Boyfriend for My Wife,” and “Shark,” both acquired from Argentina’s Film Sharks.

“When we started out we thought we would have a lot of Korean movies, but in fact we have found that French filmmakers make excellent action-romance pictures,” said Kheterpal. “There is no wastage, they get straight into the film.”

He recently picked up rights to “Nuit Blanche,” (“Sleepless Night”), a French crime thriller represented by Bac Films. Warner Bros., which had considered an American remake, had a two-year hold on all remake rights, but let the option expire last month.

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