Dev Benegal's dream project

Dev Benegal is excited about his new venture: A biopic on mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan.

india Updated: Apr 06, 2006 18:03 IST

By Subhash K. Jha

Nothing of late has got the director of such cool crossover creations as English, August and Split Wide Open as charged as his latest passion - a film on Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan.

Said Dev Benegal: "I have wanted to make a film for the last 20 years on the life of the genius, his incredible journey to England and friendship with the famous Cambridge mathematician G.H. Hardy.

"I am so happy that this seemingly crazy idea will soon see the light of day," Benegal told IANS.

 
 Stephen Fry, one of comedy's true masters

It is quite by accident that Benegal met famous English writer-actor-director Stephen Fry, who had also wanted to make a film on the story ever since he read about it while studying at Cambridge.

"This film looks like it will be the first Indian-UK co-production. But we need all the support possible to make this a reality," said Benegal.

"A story about a mathematician does not find interest or support easily. The Ramanujan story has such resonance and relevance even today. We feel the time has come for the world to see this story."

Fry was in India recently at the invitation of the UK Film Council to sign the official India-UK Film co-production treaty in March. Benegal and Fry met President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"The president was born in a village neighbouring Ramanujan's and shares a passion for science and technology. The prime minister studied economics at Cambridge. The amazing story of Ramanujan and his rise to such heights from his simple background is inspiring for me.

 
 Srinivasan Ramanujan Iyer

"This project has a special place for me. Apart from my father being born in Madras (now Chennai), I made a short film on the river Kaveri about 20 years ago for the Madras Environment Society. I travelled on a small boat made from dried palm leaves from Hogenakkal falls to Poompuhar and went via Erode and Kumbakonam.

"It's there that I did further research on Ramanujan and thought it would make a wonderful feature film. Of course, in those days it was difficult to convince people that this story would be of interest."

Dev Benegal is now totally taken up with the idea. "I can't wait to start this film."

First Published: Apr 06, 2006 18:03 IST