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Sony Pictures Classics Picks Up 'Lunchbox' (EXCLUSIVE)

Elsa Keslassy

Variety

9:30 AM EDT, May 24, 2013

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Sony Pictures Classics has acquired all U.S. rights to Ritesh Batra's feature debut "The Lunchbox," a Cannes Critics' Week standout.

A feel-good romantic comedy with culinary accents, pic stars Indian vet thesp Irrfan Khan ("Life of Pi") as a solitary widower on the eve of retirement, and rising star Nimrat Kaur as a neglected housewife who connect thanks to a wrongly delivered lunchbox.

Repped by Germany's The Match Factory, the Mumbai-set crowd-pleaser got a standing ovation following its Cannes unspooling.

"'The Lunchbox' marks a departure from traditional Bollywood melodramas that make up the bulk of Indian production," Critics' Week topper Charles Tesson told Variety. "It's a refreshing and utterly charming comedy that could have been made in Hollywood."

Variety's reviewer, Jay Weissberg, praised the film. "The ingredients on their own are nearly fail-proof, yet it's the way Batra combines food with an epistolary romance between a nearly retired number cruncher and a neglected wife that hits all the right tastebuds."

"Lunchbox" was produced by India's Sikhya Entertainment and Dar Motion Pictures and NFDC, Germany's ROH Films, France's ASAP Films and the U.S.'s Cine Mosaic.

At Cannes, SPC also acquired all U.S. rights to Iranian helmer Asghar Farhadi's Paris-set drama "The Past," starring Berenice Bejo and Tahar Rahim, which is vying for a Palme d'Or.

SPC has a strong track record when it comes to acquiring foreign arthouse films with strong Oscar potential. Last year, it nabbed Michael Haneke's "Amour," which was nominated for five Oscar nods and won best foreign-language film.

Gaul's Happiness Distribution also picked up "Lunchbox." It is one of four Indian entries that bowed at Cannes, which is celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema.