Gangland Indian epic woos Cannes

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The longest-running entry in this year's Cannes festival, a five-hour Indian gangster epic, won a warm welcome at the Riviera event, even drawing parallels with Quentin Tarantino.

Anurag Kashyap, who directed the five hour and 20 minute "Gangs of Wasseypur", described the film to AFP as "a Bollywood-influenced gangster epic, part Western, part documentary."

With a folk-meets-dubstep soundtrack and a basis in true stories, the film follows three generations of coal and scrap-trade mafia gangs in a suburb in east India who are obsessed with traditional Hindi cinema.

The two-part film screened this week in the Directors' Fortnight sidebar section of the Cannes festival, to strong reviews.

"'Gangs of Wasseypur' puts Tarantino in a corner with its cool command of cinematically-inspired and referenced violence, ironic characters and breathless pace," was how the Hollywood Reporter summed up the movie.

"There's never a dull moment in this Indian gangland epic," wrote Screen International.

Bollywood stars like to spice up the red carpet at Cannes but their movies seldom create a serious buzz.

Kashyap, who is also working with British "Slumdog Millionaire" director Danny Boyle on a film about 1960s Mumbai, hopes Cannes exposure can help change perceptions of Indian cinema and boost ties with foreign film-makers.

His film was one of three examples at Cannes this year of a burgeoning, alternative Indian cinema that departs from commercial song-and-dance Bollywood hits so popular at home -- but the other two met with more lukewarm reviews.

Kashyap also had a hand in the experimental "Peddlers", which screened in the other main sidebar section at Cannes, Critics' Week.

Directed by newcomer Vasan Bala and financed through appeals on Facebook, the Mumbai-set movie weaves together the stories of a cynical narcotics cop, and two youngsters who fall into the drug trade.

The Hollywood Reporter regretted its "confused, at times naive story-telling", despite an "action-packed last half-hour."

Likewise, Ashim Ahluwalia's "Miss Lovely", screened in the Un Certain Regard new talent section of the festival, drew a muted reception.

France's Liberation newspaper said the storyline, about the sleazy world of 1980s "C" grade Hindi movies, had the potential to be fascinating, but was rendered "charmless" and "dull" through an overly-serious tone.

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