Reliance aims high with 'Kites'

$30 mil English-language film stars Hrithik Roshan

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CANNES -- Indian giant Reliance Big Entertainment is pulling out the showbiz stops to promote its first English-language tentpole movie in Cannes.

Although the $30 million "Kites" has not yet been finished, Reliance and its new sales arm have flown in the film's star -- and A-list Bollywood royalty -- Hrithik Roshan for a news conference Friday. He is accompanied by the film's director Anurag Batra, producer Rakesh Roshan and Mexican model-turned-actress Barbara Mori, for a rough-cut screening.

The picture underlines how far away from the stereotyped "Bollywood" model some Indian companies are moving these days as they seek to broaden their markets at home and abroad. "Kites" is a $30 million romantic adventure filmed in multiple desert locations in the U.S. and Mumbai.

At Cannes last year, the company unveiled a massive slate of "Indian-based" movies, of which 18 will be completed this year, and a $300 million production commitment. That was in addition to the development and production "silos" it set up with leading Hollywood talent and was separate from its partnership with Steven Spielberg in the new-look DreamWorks.

Nor is Reliance alone in using Cannes to push Indian entertainment further into the international mainstream. Eros Entertainment is giving a big Cannes launch to "Kambakkht Ishq," a comedy romance about an Indian stuntman who makes it in Hollywood, but still can't find love. The picture features Sylvester Stallone, Denise Richards and Brandon Routh alongside Indian stars Akshay Kapur and Kareena Kapoor.

Last year in Cannes, Eros sealed a two-way distribution deal with Lionsgate.