Paris-based sales company Charades has boarded international sales on “Stolen,” the only Indian feature selected at the Venice Film Festival.
The film, which will bow within the festival’s Horizons Extra strand, tells the story of the havoc that ensues when opposite worlds collide after two urban young men become embroiled in an impoverished mother’s desperate journey to be reunited with her child. It is described as a “breathtaking action thriller” and the “hidden gem in world cinema” by Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera.
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“Stolen” marks the feature debut of Karan Tejpal who started his career working in large-scale Bollywood films including “Lage Raho Munna Bhai” and “3 Idiots” and directed short “No Anaesthesia.” It is produced by Gaurav Dhingra under his banner Jungle Book Studio (Toronto and Rome audience award winner “Angry Indian Goddesses,” Toronto selection “Faith Connections” and “Beyond the Known World,” an India-New Zealand co-production starring David Wenham and Emmanuelle Beart). Sol Bondy, founder of Berlin-based One Two Films, serves as executive producer.
The film is written by Tejpal, Agadbumb and Dhingra. The cast includes Abhishek Banerjee (“Paatal Lok”), Shubham (“San’ 75”), Mia Maelzer (“The Braid”), Harish Khanna (“Gangs of Wasseypur”) and Shahidur Rahaman (“The Last Koan”).
Tejpal said: “In crafting ‘Stolen,’ I deliberately chose to embrace a raw, unapologetic cinema verité style. By immersing the viewers in the experience alongside my characters, I aimed to engage them fully in the search for truth and justice. ‘Stolen’ is my earnest attempt to bring to light the unseen realities that shape our society and to provoke introspection on the issues that matter most. I hope that this cinematic journey will not only entertain but also encourage meaningful conversations about the complexities of our world, ultimately paving the way for a better, more empathetic future.”
Dhingra added: “With ‘Stolen,’ we have distilled the art of producing an irresistible work of cinema which can be consumed globally, opening the IP to million possibilities. I co-wrote the film and evaded any external studio funding, purely to create the most veracious, hard hitting and immersive cinema as can be. While this was a start to a treacherous upward journey it helped me streamline efficient film production alongside the development of story and maintain a uniform cinematic vision for the film. ‘Stolen’ has vindicated my stand that even an edge-of-the-seat mystery action thriller with a wide potential audience, can find itself celebrated at the Mecca of art house cinema when made with sincere intent and smart execution. I’m positive that the success of ‘Stolen’ will pave the way to a new-wave of genre films from India aimed at a worldwide distribution.”
Carole Baraton, co-founder of Charades, said: “We are very excited to propose ‘Stolen’ to our distributors in Venice. The whole team was struck by this fast-paced, heartbreaking unique story and impressed by a so well mastered debut. It shows a face of Indian society that most of us are totally unaware of and that should get international audiences drawn to.”
The world premiere of “Stolen” will take place on Aug. 31.
Watch the clip here:
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