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SUNDANCE: Fox Searchlight Buys Remake Rights to 'Bengali Detective'

The Sundance documentary, directed by Philip Cox, had its world premiere Saturday afternoon.

The Bengali Detective

Fox Searchlight has acquired worldwide remake rights from Native Voice Films to the Sundance documentary The Bengali Detective.

Philip Cox directed the film, which was produced by Giovanna Stopponi, Annie Sundberg and Himesh Kar. The world cinema documentary competition film had its world premiere Saturday afternoon at the Holiday Village Cinema IV.

Bengali follows the efforts of a ragtag crew of private detectives led by the earnest Rajesh Ji that is trying to fill the crime-solving gap of a Calcutta society rampant with murder and fraud and an unengaged police force. The nonfiction story delves richly into class issues and the corrupting undercurrent of an exploding economy that looks to the West as inspiration as Rajesh juggles caring for his dying wife, investigating a scourge of unsolved homicides and counterfeiting schemes, and pursuing a passion for dance that drives he and his entire crew to train for weeks with a cute choreographer.

“We adored this film and are delighted to have the chance to work with such entertaining, funny material,” said Searchlight production president Claudia Lewis. “We were charmed by this story of a dedicated husband and self-made detective who dreams big.”

Not lost on the Searchlight execs, surely, is the film's poignant look at an urban Indian culture through the eyes of a sympathetic, overwhelmed and very human protagonist. In 2008, Searchlight rode Danny Boyle's Mumbai-set Slumdog Millionaire to $362 million in worldwide grosses and eight Oscars, including best picture.

Fox Searchlight exec Megan O’Brien negotiated the deal with Andrew Hurwitz of Schreck Rose Dapello Adams & Hurwitz, LLP on behalf of Native Voice. Creative exec Richard Gold will shepherd development for Searchlight.

In the last two days, Searchlight has also purchased rights to the dark competition drama Martha Marcy May Marlene for about $2 million and worldwide rights to the high school comedy Homework for a little more than $3 million.