Russo Brothers, India’s Excel Entertainment Explore Partnership

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The Russo brothers and Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar’s Indian production house Excel Entertainment (“Gully Boy,” “Made in Heaven”) are exploring a partnership.

Joe and Anthony Russo were in Mumbai for the premiere and press meet for Netflix film “The Gray Man,” following which they met with Akhtar and Sidhwani. During the press meet, they spoke about the possibility of “The Gray Man,” in which India’s Dhanush is one of the stars, becoming a franchise and about working with Indian talent.

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The wide ranging discussion between the Russo brothers and Akhtar and Sidhwani covered the theatrical experience and the importance of event films and VFX in today’s market scenario; screen count in India versus the rest of the world, and its importance; the globalization of cinema, with language not being a barrier, and storytelling across cultures; working with Indian talent and the possibility of producing a film with an Indian director; and about work culture — production, prep and filming processes in the West compared to India.

“We love what the two gentlemen [Akhtar and Sidhwani] have been doing with content in India, they have a brilliant knack for telling disruptive stories,” Anthony Russo told the Indian media. “Although such things take time to materialize, we are definitely talking with them with regards to developing something. At this moment, I can only say that it’s an exchange of ideas at this stage.”

Excel began operations in 2001 with landmark film “Dil Chahta Hai” and since then has established itself as a production powerhouse. Sidhwani produces and Akhtar, in addition to producing, directs, writes, composes and acts. The company has an existing relationship with Amazon Prime Video and also has a multi-year partnership with Netflix.

Akhtar’s next film as director is “Jee Le Zara,” starring Bollywood A-listers Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Katrina Kaif and Alia Bhatt. As an actor, Akhtar can currently be seen in “Ms. Marvel.”

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