Devdas, the first Bollywood picture to screen in Cannes' Official Selection, has been picked up by Focus International (formerly Good Machine International) for world sales.
Focus has the film in all territories outside the US and India. Eros International, which produced the film, will jointly sell the film in the UK and France and will itself handle the US.
"Bollywoood has come of age and we are thrilled to be partnering with Focus International to bring this wonderful film to wider audiences internationally," said Kishore Lulla, chairman and managing director of Eros International.
Devdas, directed by Sanjay Leela Bansali, is billed by Lulla as Shakespeare In Love meets Moulin Rouge. It is one of the most expensive Indian films of all time and boasts elaborate sets and locations and a superstar cast. Adapted by Prakash Kapadia from a novel by Saratchandra Chatterjee, the film is the story of a jilted man who forlornly tries to find love in the arms of a courtesan. The cast is headed by India's Shahrukh Khan, former Miss World Aishwarya Rai and Madhur Dixit.
With Devdas so sought after Eros has been able to arrange a beauty parade of sales agents. Companies in the running included Fortissimo and Pathe, while Miramax made an aggressive play for US and UK rights.
The film is scheduled to get its commercial premiere in India on June 28. A release in the UK, which is the richest market for Bollywood films outside India, is planned as soon as possible thereafter. Eros is still weighing up the possibility of joint distribution with a mainstream distributor as it did with FilmFour on Monsoon Wedding and considers a 200-print release perfectly possible. Earlier this week it was weighing up offers from four UK distributors.
Lulla, who will deliver full-length Hindi and sub-titled international versions, said that it is possible to target the Indian diaspora communities and crossover audiences using two separate distribution campaigns without one compromising the other.
The move confirms that Focus, despite its integration with North American distributor USA Films, will continue to function as an international sales agent.