Disney India planning quartet of action films

Sign of increased interest in the subcontinent

NEW DELHI -- In another sign of Hollywood's growing interest in the Indian film industry, the Walt Disney Company India is planning a quartet of live-action features under its local banner, Walt Disney Pictures India.

"We have finalized two projects to start with, which include 'The 19th Step' starring top South Indian actor Kamal Hassan, directed by Bharat Bala. The second is 'Zokkomon,' starring top child actor Darsheel Safari and directed by Satyajit Bhatkal," a WDCI spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter on Friday.

A timeline for both films is being finalized. Budgets were not given. The two other features are in the development process.

Along with Hassan, "Step" will feature Japanese star Asano Tadanabo and Indian actress Asin. Director Bala is one of India's best-known music video directors. "Step" is said to revolve around the ancient Indian martial arts form Kalarippayattu and will be a multilingual Indian release.

"Zokkomon," meanwhile, is a children's tale. It's star, Safari, won acclaim last year for the hit "Taare Zameen Par" (Stars On Earth), which tackled the theme of dyslexia. Walt Disney Home Video recently acquired the film for international video distribution in select territories.

Disney made its first foray into local production last year with an exclusive three-picture deal to co-produce animation titles with veteran Mumbai-based banner Yash Raj Films. The first release, "Roadside Romeo" -- voiced by top Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan and actress Kareena Kapoor -- opens Oct. 24.