Dev Benegal and his Ramanujan Project

Last Updated: Mon, Apr 03, 2006 04:45 hrs

Nothing of late has got the director of such cool crossover creations as English August and Split Wide Open, as charged as his newest passion.

"I have wanted to make a film for the last 20 years on the life of the genius Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, 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."

Quite by accident, Dev met the famous English writer, actor and director Stephen Fry, who had also wanted to make a film on this story ever since he read about it while studying at Cambridge. Continues Dev, "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. A story about a mathematician does not find interest or support easily. The Ramanujan story has such resonances and relevance even today. We feel the time has come for the world to see this story." Stephen 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. Dev and Fry met the President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

Exults Dev, "The honorable President was born in the neighbouring village to Ramanujans and shares a passion for science and technology. The honorable 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.

This project has a special place for me. Apart from my father being born in Madras I made a short film on the Kaveri about 20 years ago for The Madras Environment Society. I travelled on the river on a small boat made from dried palm leaves from Hoggenakkal falls to Poompuhar and naturally went via Erode and Kumbhakonam.

It's there that I did further research on the life and story of Ramanujan and thought it would make a wonderful feature film for the world to see. Of course in those days it was difficult to convince people that this story would be of interest." Dev is now totally taken up with the idea of the project. "Growing up in India there were Nehru, Ramanujan and Tagore who for me were the spirit of modern India and inspired us as students that we could take on the world and make significant contributions to it regardless of where we came from….I can't wait to start this film"

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