EXCLUSIVE: Sweden’s Tre Vanner and Norway’s Motlys team for prestigious crime thriller based on Karin Fossum bestseller.

Hans Petter Moland, who premieres In Order Of Disappearance in Berlinale Competition, will direct The Indian Bride (Elskede Poona), adapted from Karin Fossum’s bestseller of the same title. The film is set for a summer 2015 shoot in India and rural Norway on a budget of €4-5m.

The psychological drama/tragic love story will be produced as a joint venture between Scandinavian powerhouses Tre Vanner/Svensk (Sweden) and Motlys (Norway). The lead producers are Helen Ahlsson (The Fjallbacka Murders) of Tre Vanner/Svensk and Yngve Saether (The Orheim Company) of Motlys.

Erlend Loe, novelist and award-winning screenwriter, adapts the script. He says of the film: “It’s a different kind of crime story, it’s much more into character and just being there, its not a mathematical unfolding of plot.”

Ahlsson, who said the creatives assembling were something of a “dream team,” said The Indian Bride not a traditional Scandi crime project: “It’s less about ‘who did it’ and more about what happens to people after..it’s humanising material.” She adds, “There is also strong hope [in the story] because it’s a tribute to love.”

Saether told Screen: “I felt immediately that this wasn’t a traditional crime story but more of a dramatic love story.”

The team expects to confirm a sales company after the Berlinale. They are also meeting with potential Indian partners here. “There is a lot of interest due the popularity of the novel and the partners,” Ahlsson says. No cast is attached yet.

The novel won the 2008 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It is one of the biggest hits in Fossum’s series about detective Konrad Sejer. The story follows a long-time bachelor who meets and marries an Indian beauty, who is soon brutally murdered.

Saether says famed author Fossum is glad to hand over her material. “She says she wants to take it to another place,” he says. Loe says his first draft was “nearer to the book” but with subsequent drafts has has added his own take on the material, such as introducing more of the earlier story set in India.

Ahlsson says Moland is the perfect director for the project. “He’s got a tone of his own, but he hasn’t done a love story before, and it’s time for him to put the guns down and open up all our hearts,” she says with a laugh. Saether adds that Moland won’t be getting too soft. “At the same time, he’ll be keeping the tension going, it’s an unsettling atmosphere.”

“We have a background with dark thrillers, so we were happy to get the rights,” Ahlsson says. “We felt immediately that it should be made in Norway, and we looked for one year to find the right partner with the right talents…We wanted to make this an artistic story with the highest ambitions.”

Saether adds, “As Tre Vanner wanted to work on more arthouse films, our ambition was to move into more commercial works, so we met in the middle.”

Tre Vanner, founded in 1995, became part of the Svensk group in October 2013. Its credits include the Easy Money trilogy.

Motlys was founded in 1983 and has credits including The Man Who Loved Yngve, Oslo, August 31st and recent Sundance award-winner Blind, showing in the Berlinale Panorama programme.