Sony Pictures India Strikes Bollywood Distribution Deal with 'Chalk N Duster'

Courtesy of Sony Pictures India

The push is part of the studio's "renewed focus" on local distribution deals over and above its Hollywood release calendar for 2016.

Sony Pictures India is set to expand its presence in Bollywood with drama Chalk N Duster, which is set for a theatrical release on Jan. 15.

Back in 2007, Sony was the first Hollywood studio to present a Bollywood film, Saawariya (Beloved). Soon, the local units of other studios, such as Warner Bros., Fox, Viacom and Disney, started making inroads into producing and distributing Indian films in various languages.

However, in recent years, Sony gradually phased out its local releases while continuing to concentrate on its Hollywood slate, a strategy also followed by Warner. Currently, Fox Star Studios, Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Disney-UTV are the prominent Hollywood studios active in local productions

Last year, Sony Pictures Television's India unit Multi Screen Media launched its film banner MSM Motion Pictures. It released hit comedy drama Piku, starring Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan and actress Deepika Padukone. However, the title wasn't distributed by Sony Pictures India, but handled by Yash Raj Films. Chalk N Duster marks a return for Sony Pictures to distribute a local title following earlier releases such as 2010's We Are Family, an official Bollywood version of the Julia Roberts- and Susan Sarandon-starrer Stepmom.

“As part of Sony Pictures India’s renewed focus on local acquisitions over and above Sony’s strong Hollywood release calendar, we are picking quality titles to distribute and are excited to have Chalk N Duster as our first release of next year setting off an exciting 2016 lineup,” said Sony Pictures India managing director Vivek Krishnani.

Directed by Jayant Gilatar and presented by local banner Surani Pictures, Chalk N Duster is described as the emotional journey of two teachers Vidya (Shabana Azmi) and Jyoti (Juhi Chawla), serving at a Mumbai-based high school.

In addition to its Hollywood slate for next year, which includes Will Smith-starrer Concussion opening in February, SPI will also release cricket biopic Azhar in May from MSM Motion Pictures and Indian banner Balaji Motion Pictures.

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