Microwave International partnership will commit up to $385,000 (£250,000) towards feature film; Indian mentors include Vishal Bharwaj, Ritesh Batra and Vikas Behl.

Film London has announced that India’s Cinestaan Film Company is to invest in its Film London Microwave International: Shakespeare India initiative.

The international iteration of Film London’s initiative will unite Asian filmmaking talent from the UK and India. Five successful teams will be selected for Microwave’s Microschool. This will give the writers, producers and directors from both countries the chance to hone their skills through an intensive programme of training, professional mentoring and advice on issues ranging from financing through to distribution.

Cinestaan will join Film London and the British Council in investing in the scheme. In addition to the new business partnership, mentors Vishal Bharwaj (Maqbool, Omkara and Haider – three Shakespeare adaptions), Ritesh Batra (The Lunchbox) and Vikas Bahl (Queen, Phantom Films) have been announced as three of the expert industry mentors who work with the successful applicants during the project. 

The ambition is to greenlight one project, which will draw from the work of the Bard and be theatrically released in 2016 as part of Shakespeare 400 – a year-long cultural programme marking four centuries since the writer’s death.

Cinestaan Film Company will invest up to $385,000 (£250,000) in the greenlit feature. They will join Film London and British Council in contributing to the training programme and play a role in selecting the filmmaking teams.

Microwave International: Shakespeare India dovetails with Cinestaan’s own ambitions to preserve and celebrate India’s rich film heritage and will help forge international links for Indian talent.

Bhardwaj said: “Stories bring people together and when the stories we commemorate are one of the world’s greatest playwrights, a cross-continental endeavour only seems fitting. I am thrilled to be part of this initiative by Cinestaan and Film London to unite diverse talent from India and the UK in celebrating the Bard’s timeless legacy.”

Batra added: “I am pleased to be part of this initiative, to celebrate 400 years of Shakespeare by providing a platform to new talent is not just noble but also very necessary. All creativity flourishes within confines and boxes, and there is no better box to be in for new writers and filmmakers than the works of Shakespeare.”