British actor, filmmakerand novelist Stephen Fry is to join forces with leading Indian auteur Dev Benegal in making Ramanujan, a biopic about the "genius" Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. The film isgearing up just as the UK-India co-production treaty is on the verge of beingsigned.

The idea is that Fry willdirect the Indian parts of the movie while Benegal,who previously directed English, August and Split Wide Open, will be calling the shots in the UK. The duoare currently co-writing the screenplay.

The $20m project is beingmade through Sprout, the UK-based production company set up by Fry and producerGina Carter.

Ramanujan spent much of his careerat Cambridge University where he became closefriends with Cambridge maths expert, G.H. Hardy.Carter bills the film as "a study of friendship and cultures and a study or twogeniuses from very different cultures coming together".

Fry and Carter were in India last month for their film,scouting locations and holding meetings. While there, they received backingfrom an unexpected quarter. The President of India, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, a former aeronautical engineer, is a long-time fanof Ramanujan. He invited the filmmakers for a meetingin Delhi at which he promised to support the project in anyway he could.

"Apart from hisfascination with Ramanujan, I think he liked the ideathat we were going to shoot it as a co-production between India and England," Carter told

While in India, Carter and Fry also metwith Indian producers and financiers. "We made enough contacts that we canfinance a portion of the film for sure out of India," she notes.

It is yet to be decidedwhether Fry (whose acting credits include Gosford Park and Wilde) will play G.H.Hardy.

As ScreenDaily previously reported, US producer Ed Pressman also has a Ramanujanproject in the works, based on Robert Kanigel's 1991biography The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life Of TheGenius Ramanujan,which Matthew Brown will adapt and direct.

Fry and Carter formedSprout shortly after Fry's directorial debut, the Evelyn Waugh adaptation, Bright Young Things (2003). The companyhas various other projects in development, among them Raven (being scripted by Fry) and family drama The Winged Boy, to shoot in New Zealand in the spring. This isbeing co-produced by Gold Circle and will be directed byLuis Mandoki.

Meanwhile, both partnersremain busy outside Spout. Carter is continuing to work with Andrew Eaton andMichael Winterbottom's Revolution on variousprojects, among them the Nick Hornby scripted Fast Forward.