Cause Entertainment, an Indian fund established to invest in socially conscious movies, has announced that its first project will be Roger Spottiswoode’s A First Class Man, a biopic about Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan.

Cause is fully financing the mid-budget English-language film and will co-produce with UK-based Picture Palace Productions. The producers are also in talks with potential distribution partners. The project is currently casting and shooting is expected to start in the UK and India before the end of the year.   

Based on the play of the same name by David Freeman, the film follows the life of Tamil Nadu-born Ramanujan (1887-1920), who had no formal education but devised mathematical theories that were years ahead of his time.

He was invited to Cambridge by mathematician G.H. Hardy who was astounded by the content of Ramanujan’s notebooks when he posted them from Chennai.

Picture Palace, headed by Malcolm Craddock, is a film and TV producer with credits including the Sharpe series of TV films, comedy drama series Tandoori Nights and feature film The Acid House.

Spottiswoode has directed films such as And The Band Played On, Air America and Tomorrow Never Dies. His last feature, The Children Of Huang Shi, was a Sino-Australian co-production that filmed in China starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Radha Mitchell.

Ramanujan has already been the subject of several books and plays but this project marks the first time his life has been depicted in a feature film. The film will also be used as a platform for social action initiatives in the area of education, which are being devised by the team at Cause.

“Our intention in making this our first project – in addition to the top talent attached – is that a wide range of social action programmes can revolve around education,” says Cause Entertainment’s Vicky Dhir.

“The story is a classic example of mathematics over-taking the societal norms that existed at that time and acting as a bridge between two very diverse cultures.”

Dhir is one of three principal directors at the fund along with Aditya Mehta and former Sony executive Uday Singh. The fund also has two advisory boards - a creative board including filmmakers such as Anurag Kashyap and Aparna Sen, and a corporate board including execs such as Sony Entertainment CEO ManJit Singh.