‘Lunchbox’ Producer Guneet Monga Spices up ‘Titli’

HONG KONG – Bollywood powerhouse Yash Raj Films has hired “Lunchbox” producer Guneet Monga to handle international sales and distribution of independent drama “Titli.”

The move is a further sign that Indian films may be reaching non-traditional audiences and that the big studios are keen for a piece of the business.

YRF is the studio that produced and largely self-distributed mega-hit “Dhoom 3.”

“Titli” is the story of a rebellious young man who is unwillingly married off, but finds an unlikely ally in his wife, who also harbors unfulfilled dreams. But when their alliance goes wrong Titli begins to realize that he is part of the problem as much as the family that has deprived him of the freedom he has sought.

It is directed by Kanu Behl and produced by Dibakar Banerjee (“Shanghai”).

Monga, who has recently produced “The Lunchbox,” “Gangs of Wasseypur” and “Shaitan,” has become India’s leading – and most prolific – independent producer. A significant part of her efforts have been the development of contacts with overseas financiers and sales agents which are rarely involved in Indian cinema. She has also traveled extensively on the festival circuit and is in Sundance promoting Cannes festival hit “The Lunchbox.”

“It only strengthens our belief that as a filmmaking nation our stories and films are reaching out to a wider audience and are being accepted. ‘Titli’ is a real powerful movie from Kanu Behl. It took us the last five years to be able to create the right platform and interest for the new wave hitting Indian cinema internationally. With ‘Titli,’ I hope to take if forward,” said Monga.

The film is typical of the new generation of independent Indian movies: it was in development for over two years, the script was selected for the Film Bazaar Screenwriters Lab in 2012 and subsequently won the Post Production award at the Film Bazaar Work in Progress Lab in 2013.

Helped by the penetration that Reliance Big Pictures’ “3 Idiots’ achieved in East Asian markets including Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, YRF has sold a slate of Bollywood titles to mainstream distributors in Japan, Poland and Germany.

“At YRF we always back strong content. ‘Titli’ is a very special film for us, as it’s a departure from making big-budget event films, which have allowed us to break new ground in non-traditional territories with our mainstream films,” said Avtar Panesar, VP, international operations at Yash Raj Films.

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