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HomeCelebrityAward-winning filmmaker Kanu Behl’s next Hindi feature ‘Agra’ produced by Saregama India...

Award-winning filmmaker Kanu Behl’s next Hindi feature ‘Agra’ produced by Saregama India Ltd, UFO Production and O28 Films to have its World Premiere at the prestigious Directors’ Fortnight, a parallel section at the Cannes Film Festival 2023.

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~It is the only Indian feature film in the lineup this year ~

~Agra is Kanu Behl’s second film to be having its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival after his debut film Titli (2014)~

-The film also marks the comeback of Aashiqui actor Rahul Roy and also features Priyanka Bose (actor of the Oscar-nominated film Lion)

Mumbai, 18th April 2023: Award-winning writer-director Kanu Behl’s next Hindi feature film ‘Agra’ produced by Saregama India Ltd, UFO Production, and O28 Films is to have its World Premiere at the upcoming Directors’ Fortnight, an independent section of the Cannes Film Festival, 2023.

Agra is the only Indian feature film in the lineup this year. The festival will be held from May 16, 2023 – May 27, 2023.


Agra is Kanu Behl’s second film to have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival after his debut film Titli which premiered in the 2014 Cannes Un Certain Regard section.  

Directors’ Fortnight highlights independent films from throughout the world, a free-spirited, non-competitive selection open to all festival goers. 

Agra boasts of an ensemble cast headlined by Rahul Roy (Aashiqui star) who makes a comeback with this film. It also features Priyanka Bose (actor of the Oscar-nominated film Lion), a debut actor Mohit Agarwal in a lead role, Ruhani Sharma, veteran actors Vibha Chibber, Sonal Jha and Aanchal Goswami in pivotal roles. 

The film written by Kanu Behl and Atika Chohan is an exploration of sexual dynamics within a family, and the deep dystopian fractures created in a modern India fast shrinking into pigeon-holed spaces.

The film was developed at ‘PJLF Three Rivers residency program – in Italy, with the prestigious ‘Cinema du Monde’ film fund backing it. The film was also part of the FBR section of the Viewing Room at NFDC’s Film Bazaar, 2022.

Kanu Behl, the writer-director of the film says, “Agra has been a deeply personal and difficult exploration for me, a deep dive into the inner entrails of desire and male sexual repression, and an attempt to understand the hoodoo. I’m overjoyed that the film is beginning its journey at Director’s Fortnight and I hope it opens a conversation around sexuality and the ‘homes’ we choose to live in, as it reaches a wider audience. ”

Siddharth Anand Kumar – Sr. VP of Films & Event at Saregama India Ltd. says, “The World premiere of Agra at the Directors’ Fortnight is a huge honour for us. We often credit ourselves as a studio that is into fearless filmmaking and Agra is a perfect example. Kanu Behl had deep faith in the subject and we are glad we made this film with him.  I look forward to seeing how the audience reacts to the film at Cannes.”  

William Jehannin of UFO Production says,The creation of Agra has been an incredible adventure. I feel deeply honoured to have collaborated with an Indian artist like Kanu Behl for the creation of his film, which talks about a subject both intensely local and also global. The fact that we birth a unique, independent and totally free film shows signs of a very successful creative co-production between India and France and I’m excited for the screening at Director’s Fortnight.”

Actor Rahul Roy says, I was so excited when I read the script of Agra because it spoke about things that had been knots within me for years. As we filmed it and I lived each day with my character, I burned and exhumed those knots and the journey became a transformative experience. I’m so excited to share this special film with the world.

Synopsis:

Guru (25), a sexually repressed young boy, lives in a small house in Agra. He sleeps in the same room as his mother, and on the upper floor his father lives with a mistress. In an already tiny house, the only available space is the terrace on the upper floor. Guru insists that he loves Mala, an imaginary girl, and will marry her and live with her in a room on the terrace just like his father does with his mistress.

‘Agra’ then, becomes the odyssey of a young Indian man’s sexual coming of age as he goes from courting an imaginary girl; to sex chatting with an unknown girl online; to finally bedding a 40 year old cripple woman and ‘falling in love with her’, ending up having sex with for the first time. As everyone else in the house fights for the terrace to be used for their own material gains, Guru struggles with his sexuality.

CAST

Guru: Mohit Agarwal

Mummy: Vibha Chibber

Daddy: Rahul Roy

Aunty: Sonal Jha

Mala: Ruhani Sharma

Chhavi: Aanchal Goswami

Priti: Priyanka Bose

CREW

Directed by: Kanu Behl

Written by: Atika Chohan, Kanu Behl

Produced by: Saregama India Ltd, UFO Production, O28 Films

Producers: Vikram Mehra, Siddharth Anand Kumar, William Jéhannin, Kanu Behl

Co – Producer: Sahil Sharma

Executive Producers: Gaurav Sharma, Priyanka Bangia, Anurodh Gusain, Shoaib Lokhandwala

Line Producer: Naman Mehra, Arvind Singh, Aarti Bhatia

Cinematography: Saurabh Monga

Production Design: Parul Sondh

Editor: Samarth Dixit, Nitesh Bhatia

Costume Design: Fabeha Sultana Khan

Sound Design: Pritam Das

Casting Director: Prashant Singh

Original Score: Karan Gour

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT:

Agra has been a deeply personal and difficult exploration for me – that of a sense of repressed sexuality within and the search for its roots. After Titli, I was asking myself what I want to talk about, and I felt like there was a caged impulse which was straining to get out and I wanted to understand it. More so because I felt it was a gaze I had seen in almost every other Indian boy/man around me.

What was it that led to this delayed sexual maturity in India? 

A strange familial hive bonding that is combined with a severe lack of space… Too many people packed together in too many corners like a pack of sardines. As I explored this central idea, the film began to emerge. Guru’s fight for the empty space on the terrace became emblematic of his epic dual struggles: First for his own sanity, the concretisation of his understanding of relationships, the difference between sex and love, trust and faith. For his own understanding by the end that even though the sexual act might be the purest expression of love, within it lie the cracks of myriad human desire. 

Second, more importantly, I wanted to talk about the larger struggle for Guru. The one he fights against the people and the world at large. Slowly realising that the space problem in his house is real, and the best solution perhaps is the most brutal. It cannot be solved by a mistress or her money, but by a more basic amputation. To give the base of the house away and go more vertical… make a ‘deal’ with the devil and get everyone what they desire, making himself a part of the system. 

This to me is in direct correlation to the rise of the new ‘vertical’, developing India and the right wing echoes we’re seeing in our country. Where the disenfranchised are left between the devil and the deep sea. The film for me then, is an emotional, human and structural  parable for the deep fracture of our economic/spatial dystopia. 

DIRECTOR’S BIO/PROFILE OF KANU:

After dabbling in radio, copywriting and acting, Kanu Behl studied at the Satyajit Ray Film and TV Institute, Kolkata, majoring in Film Direction. His first documentary ‘An Actor Prepares’ (2006) premiered in competition at Cinema du Reel, France. Next, he directed and produced the doc short ‘Three Blind Men’ (2007) for ZDF and ARTE, commissioned at the Berlin Film Festival. This was followed by ‘Found Him Yet?’ and ‘Over Thresholds’ (2008), documentary features commissioned by NHK, Japan. A Berlinale talent campus alumni and twice nominated for the Berlin Today Award, in 2010 Kanu dove into fiction.

His first major foray was the critically acclaimed LSD (Love, Sex & Betrayal) which he co-wrote with Dibakar Banerjee. In 2014, his debut feature ‘Titli’ premiered at Un Certain Regard, Cannes, going on to win major 8 international awards including the NETPAC and the Best First Foreign Film (2015) from the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics. His follow up short ‘Binnu Ka Sapna’ premiered at Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival and won the prestigious Student Jury Award.

His sophomore feature titled ‘Agra’, an Indo-French co-production with the prestigious Cinema du Monde film fund backing it, is set to premiere at Director’s Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival. And he’s in post production on his third feature titled ‘Despatch’, starring Manoj Bajpayee and produced by Ronnie Screwvala’s RSVP.

An international itinerant, Kanu’s career is clearly divided into two halves – the early years grounded in a solid documentary influence, culminating in his fiction pieces which borrow from this deep love for creative documentary, both thematically and stylistically. 

ABOUT SAREGAMA INDIA LTD

Saregama, the erstwhile HMV India, has been in the entertainment business for over a hundred years. It is the oldest music label in India with the biggest music repertoire across all genres and languages and is also a leading producer of fiction content for Indian TV channels.


ABOUT  YOODLEE FILMS: 

Yoodlee Films is the studio arm of Saregama. Since its inception in 2016, it has produced over 25 feature films in various languages including Hindi, English, Tamil, Malayalam, Punjabi and Marathi, many of which have made their way to numerous festivals of repute, including Busan (BIFF), Rotterdam (IFFR) and Tallinn Black Nights. Closer home, Yoodlee has won three National Film Awards – two for Hamid (2019) and one for the Tamil film KD (2020).  Yoodlee Films has stormed through the regional markets and is working with the biggest stars in the Malayalam, Marathi and Punjabi industries. In 2022, they released 4 big films namely, Zombivli, (Marathi) Padavettu, (Malayalam) Oye Makhna (Punjabi) and Kaapa (Malayalam). The films performed well at the box office and now are available to stream on OTT.  The Yoodlee brand of “fearless filmmaking” has found favour with audiences and critics alike with 14 films on Netflix, 4 on Disney+ Hotstar, and 3 on Zee5. 

Yoodlee has now entered in the web shows with Hunter- Tootega Nahi Todega starring Suniel Shetty on Amazon MiniTV and United Kacche starring Sunil Grover on Zee5. Both the shows have pleased the audience and entered the top 5 streamed shows of the week in the first week of release.

ABOUT  UFO PRODUCTION:

The company UFO was created in 2009 by William Jéhannin and Stéphane Auclaire with the main activity of distribution of films in theatres. Today, the catalog of UFO has about fifty titles – fiction, documentaries, of different nationalities. Subsequently, UFO Production was created by William Jéhannin in 2015 to strengthen the viability of the production activity within UFO.

Our first production was John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection, a documentary by Julien Faraut about the famous tennis player John McEnroe, presented at the Berlinale 2018. The State against Mandela and the Others, a documentary directed by Nicolas Champeaux and Gilles Porte about the trail of Nelson Mandela, was presented next at the Cannes Film Festival 2018.

Currently, UFO Production is debuting its first fiction feature Agra, the new film by Kanu Behl, director of acclaimed Titli, at Director’s Fortnight and developing Les Sorcières de l’Orient, the new project by Julien Faraut. 

ABOUT  O28 FILMS:

O28 Films is created by Kanu Behl and is focused on producing original, transgressive work that highlights Indian and global independent voices that need support within the fast-changing entertainment landscape.

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