Battle-for-Benaras

Feature-length documentary “The Battle for Benaras,” about the Indian elections, has been set as the first film from the new slate of U.S. indie outfit Medient Studios.

The film is currently in production, directed by Kamal Swaroop and produced by Manu Kumaran. Production will wrap next week, after the results of the election are known, with the film set to release Aug. 15, India’s Independence Day.

Benaras is a historic city that Swaroop said is a microcosm of Indian society. It is also the city in which populist Arvind Kejriwal challenged front-running Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Narendra Modi.

“This year’s battle for the Benaras seat will determine India’s destiny … and who better than Indian cinema’s enfant terrible to capture it for posterity,” said Kumaran.

Germany’s Atlas Intl., recently acquired by Medient, is handling overseas sales of “Battle” at the Cannes Market.

Medient said it is seeking a day-and-date release in the U.K., Middle East and East Asia, to coincide with the Indian outing.

“I read Elias Canetti’s book, ‘Crowds and Power,’ about 30 years ago … and have been hooked on it since then. So, when Kejriwal challenged Modi in Benaras, I thought I was at the best event, at the best place and the best time to apply my learning from the book,” Swaroop said.

Swaroop is an experimental filmmaker, who was previously banned and since rehabilitated.

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