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Bombay Berlin Strengthens Indian-German Connection

Indian-German shingle Bombay Berlin Film Production is set to continue its collaboration with director Sudhanshu Saria following the success of the helmer’s debut feature, “Loev.”

The Indian film, a gay love story about two longtime friends who discover their mutual desire over a weekend trip, premiered at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival late last year and is making its international market debut at Berlin’s EFM; it then heads to the Guadalajara Film Festival and SXSW in Austin.

While “Loev” is Saria’s first joint effort with Katharina Suckale and Arfi Lamba’s Bombay Berlin, the helmer had initially hoped to make another film with them first — “I Am Here,” about a young American man in India trying to get closure from an unresolved relationship. Saria describes it as a character study that follows “the journey of someone coming to terms with himself and his desperate need for companionship.”

Saria ended up writing “Loev” because he was unable to put together the financing for “I Am Here.”

“This one also requires a bit of a star and I thought it would help me if I had a feature film under my belt, something concrete they could see.”

Indeed, Suckale describes “Loev” as Saria’s “entry ticket.”

The film, which Pro-Fun Media is distributing in Germany, has been making waves for its subject matter. Saria says he just set out to make a love story that could take place in any major city in the world and did not at first realize the political implications of the film: In 2013, India’s supreme court upheld a colonial-era law criminalizing homosexuality.

“By extension, the court made it very easy for any cinematic work endorsing or depicting this love to be censored, obstructed and banned,” Saria said. As a result, the film’s actors, technicians and investors worked on the film secretly.

After the film’s completion, the production suffered a tragedy last year when one of its stars, Dhruv Ganesh, died unexpectedly after contracting tuberculosis. In the film, Ganesh plays music producer Sahil, who sets off with his friend Jai, a Wall Street dealmaker played by Shiv Pandit, on a fateful weekend getaway.

“I prefer to let my actions do the talking, so instead of complimenting Dhruv on the amazing job he did, I was waiting for the film to come out,” Saria said. “And not being able to see him shake hands with audiences and not having him read reviews and emails about how moving his portrayal is makes me sad and angry. But it also makes me work harder, to get more people to see it so I can give more meaning and dignity to his efforts, what he did with the final months of his life.”

Wide Management is selling “Loev” internationally, with Angel Grace Worldwide co-repping North America and handling Australia exclusively and the film’s producers overseeing sales in the Indian subcontinent.

Bombay Berlin is also developing two features with young writer-director Ruchi Joshi: “All About Her,” a road movie about an eccentric girl searching for her past; and “Killer Kumar,” a black comedy about a guy who is so invisible to those around him that he decides to kill someone in order to gain recognition, although things don’t turn out as planned.

Suckale and Lamba are also developing several TV series, including “Between Our Worlds,” about two international lawyers who battle the unethical practices of global corporations; and “Jackpot Riviera,” a series written and developed by Alessandro Bergero about five cash-strapped retired ladies from around Europe who travel to Italy to take part in a multimillion euro lottery and end up living in a small Italian village. The company is looking for European and North American partners for its TV content.

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