Mainstream Bollywood film to play at Cannes

— "Devdas," an Indian movie about doomed love told through 10 song-and-dance numbers, will premiere at this month's Cannes Film Festival.

It's the first mainstream Bollywood movie invited to the elite French film festival, which runs May 15-26. "Devdas" is scheduled to screen in the noncompetitive section Wednesday, two weeks before its release in India.

Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali told The Times of India newspaper this week that the Cannes showing "is a huge honor for Bollywood, because this is the first time a mainstream Hindi film is being screened at the festival even before its release in India."

"The invitation shows the growing interest in our cinema," he said.

Bollywood is the nickname for India's prolific, Bombay-based film industry.

Only offbeat Indian films such as "Salaam Bombay," which focused on the lives of street children in India's financial and entertainment capital, have shown at Cannes in the past.

"Devdas" may have been invited because it's a period film based on a classic Indian novel and because of the growing popularity of Indian films in other countries.

It also comes after the success of "Lagaan," a Bollywood blockbuster about poor Indian villagers reversing a repressive land tax by beating their colonial British rulers at a game of cricket. That movie was a nominee in the foreign film category at this year's Academy Awards.

The length of Indian films, which average three hours, and impromptu song and dance routines that interrupt the dramatic flow, often are seen as a barrier to global audiences.


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