One of the torchbearers of contemporary Indian crossover cinema, Dev Benegal (English August, Split Wide Open) and leading British actor-director Stephen Fry (Latin!, Blackadder) are set to announce an international feature film on mathematician genius Srinivasa Ramanujan.
"I am co-writing and co-directing the film, on the life of math genius Srinivasa Ramanujan, with Stephen Fry.
Stephen is flying into Delhi on March 20, after which we leave for Mumbai where the official film co-production treaty between India and UK will be signed," confirms Benegal.
The inspiration came 20 years ago, when he undertook a voyage across the river Kaveri in a tiny boat made of dried palm leaves.
"Apart from my father being born in Chennai, I made a short film on the Kaveri about 20 years ago, for The Madras Environment Society. I travelled from Hoggenakkal falls to Poompuhar, and naturally went via Erode and Kumbakonam, where Ramanujam spent his formative years," says the director.
Benegal says Ramanujam has huge relevance today. "Ramanujan's work is the DNA of digital technology. We don't realise it, but we see him all around us. Every time we go to the bank or to an ATM to withdraw money, both the human teller and the machine are using Ramanujan's partition theory when they hand us the notes," he rattles off in one breath.
As for Fry, the younger generation is more aware of Fry as the voice of the audio-book versions of J K Rowling's Harry Potter novels. The film is based on Ramanujan and his friendship with the Cambridge mathematician, G H Hardy.
Benegal wanted to make the film, but did not find buyers in the commercial framework of the Indian film industry and the meeting with Fry added up their passion to make the film on Ramanujam.
Akin to the Ramanujan-Hardy combination, Fry and Benegal (unbeknownst to each other) had wanted to make a film on their friendship.
The film will also mark the teeing off the co-production between India and the United Kingdom; Fry is also in India for the official signing of the India-UK Film Co-production treaty.
Fry and Benegal will also be meeting President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on March 20, after which they will attend FICCI Frames.
Stephen Fry: Who?
Cambridge educated Stephen Fry rubbed shoulders with Emma Thompson and Hugh Laurie, a lifelong friend and comedy partner.
His first play, Latin!, bagged a Scotsman Fringe First award.
The Footlights revue he wrote and performed with Thompson, Laurie and Tony Slattery was also televised by the BBC.
Later, he made Alfresco, a comedy series for Granada (along with Laurie, Thompson, Ben Elton and Robbie Coltrane), three series of Blackadder with Rowan Atkinson (and Hugh Laurie again), four series of A Bit of Fry and Laurie with Hugh Laurie (both for the BBC) and also with Hugh, four series of Jeeves and Wooster for Granada TV and WGBH Boston.
As an actor, his award-winning performances have been in Peter's Friends, Wilde and Gosford Park. In 2003, he wrote and directed Bright Young Things, his first feature. Fry has also penned four novels, including An Ode Less Travelled, and his autobiography, Moab is My Washpot.