Beyond Dreams Entertainment of India has partnered with Sri Lanka 's The Light of Asia Foundation, Sri Lanka for a $20m film project on the life of Gautam Buddha, the historical founder of Buddhism.

Leading Indian director Shyam Benegal will direct the project.

The Memorandum of Understanding for the production of the feature film was signed between the Foundation's Honorary Chairman, Navin Gooneratne and the CEO of Beyond Dreams Entertainment, Yash Patnaik, in the presence of Honorary Minister of Culture Sri Lanka Government and the chairman and general manager of the National Film Corporation of Sri Lanka.

Patnaik says: 'Gautama Buddha is an integral part of India's history and culture. But ironically it's the people of Sri Lanka, China, Japan and other Far East countries who have understood the philosophies and followed them. Besides boasting of international values, the film will also be a cultural bridge, not just between the two nations but the world over.'

Goonaratne added: 'This co-production will be released globally as the content of the film - the life of Prince Siddhartha and his quest for truth, the cessation of sorrow - will be of interest to the world at large.'

The producers have already obtained the support of the Government of Sri Lanka and The National Film Corporation. They have set up a unit to finalise the script in consultation with the Department of Pali and Buddhist Studies at the University Of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka.

Producers hope to work with leading Indian actors and creative talent.