Rome-based distribution outfit Mikado has scooped up Italian rights to Ashutosh Gowarkier's sprawling Bollywood epic, Lagaan (aka Once Upon A Time In India).

Mikado's Luigi Musini said the distribution company had picked up the film after it screened at the Locarno Film Festival in August, where it met with an enthusiastic response from critics before winning the UBS Audience Award.

Lagaan - which runs at 223 minutes - is widely seen as India's probable entry for the foreign-language Oscar next year. Written by Gowariker and filmed by Anil Mehta, the film is set in a poor Indian village in the 1890s. The tale tracks the consequences of a decree by the colonial British authorities to impose a crippling land tax on the local community and the eccentric decision that the fate of the tax should hinge on a cricket match to be played by the British and the Indians.