Ashvin Kummar and Suran Goonatilake, founders of Rasa Pictures, are in Cannes drumming up interest in a slate of cross-over independent films with their roots in the Indian diaspora.

Deepa Metha is to executive produce their first film, Samir The Terrorist a UK-set drama about a man wrongly suspected of terrorism and who is forced to take desperate measures to escape conviction. Goonatilake pitches the project, which will shoot in winter 2002, as Midnight Express meets Blair Witch Project.

"The target audience for our films is English-speaking Indian audiences, the Indian diaspora and the Indian middle class," said Goonatilake. "There is an huge demand for films from outside the Bollywood system. Samir is about as dark and anti-exotic as it gets."

Rasa, which is meeting sales agents and financiers, is putting together a slate of 10-12 films it aims to produce over the next five years.

Next off will be The Fix, a comedy set against the background of cricket match-rigging scandal and peopled by Indian mafia, models and sportsmen.