BERLIN– Guneet Monga and Karan Johar, the Indian power duo behind Cannes sensation “The Lunchbox,” are set to team up on the local remake Gaumont’s “Intouchables,” the French comedy blockbuster which grossed $426.6 million worldwide.
While negotiations on the U.S. remake are still being finalized with The Weinstein Co., Gaumont has moved forward on green-lighting international makeovers of the 2011’s French blockbuster, which was directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano.
“From ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ to ‘The Lunchbox,’ I’ve always believed that Guneet’s company was by far the most creative and trustworthy producer when it comes to delivering crowd-pleasing Indian films with a strong identity that can play well at festivals and beyond,” said Gaumont’s deputy head of sales Yohann Comte, who handled the negotiation.
Monga, the winner of last year’s Industry leadership Award at the L.A.-set Indian Film Festival, is a power player who’s bolstering India’s new wave of internationally-driven films. She will be producing via Sikhya Entertainment. Indian superstar director-producer Karan Johar, whom Monga describes as “India’s Harvey Weinstein,” is producing through Dharma Productions.
On top of being the TV host of India’s top-rated talkshow Koffee with Karan, Johar, is a well-respected director/producer whose credits include many of India’s B.O. hits such as “My Name is Khan,” “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham,” “Agneepath,” and “Dostana.”
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Monga said she and Johar are in advanced talks with popular writers and directors to come on board.
The producer had two films playing at last year’s Cannes edition: Ritesh Batra’s “The Lunchbox” a well-polished romantic comedy which won a prize at Critics’ Week and was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics, and Amit Kumar’s cop thriller “Monsoon Shootout,” a Midnight screening title.
With credits ranging from Anurag Kashyap’s “Gangs of Wasseypur” to Michael Winterbottom’s “Trishna,” Monga has achieved the status of India’s leading independent producer. For the past few years, she’s been building bridges between the Indian film industry and international players, including overseas financiers, sales agents and festivals.
“Both Karan and I are huge fans of the film. When Yohann Comte at Gaumont offered the rights of the film… I didn’t blink an eye before saying yes. It is such a privilege to be making this in tandem with the worlds first studio and most renowned studio, Gaumont,” said Monga.
Added Monga, “The international performance of “Intouchables” validates its commercial potential and we are confident that the film will be doing great business in India too.”
Johar, a self-proclaimed fan of “The Intouchables,” said, “When the prospect of being able to remake was brought to me, I jumped on the opportunity!”
Other remake pacts on “Intouchables” were signed with Brazil’s Paris Filmes, Tukey’s Calinos.
Comte, who negotiated all the deals, said he had producers pay a one-time fee upfront, bypassing the option step. “Proceeding with a on-time fee is a great way to ensure buyers are truly committed to produce the remakes, rather than buying the rights and sit on them until the option expires, which happens too often.”
Patrick Frater contributed to this report.