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Indo-British film on Ramanujan

Indo-British film on Ramanujan

A film by prolific Indian and British directors with a multi-million dollar budget is underway on math wiz Srinivasa Ramanujan.

New Delhi: Popular British director and actor Stephen Fry and prolific writer-director Dev Benegal are to produce a film on math wizard Srinivasa Ramanujan's contribution to digital technology.

Dubbed as the "man who knew infinity", Ramanujan was born in a poor family in 1887.

He dropped out of college at a young age and craving recognition of his talents while working as a clerk at the port in Madras, he shot off letters to Cambridge mathematicians.

On Ramanujan's third attempt Cambridge mathematician G H Hardy took notice of his talent and the film is based on the friendship that the two share.

In an interview with mathematician Paul Erdos, when Hardy was asked what his greatest contribution to mathematics was, Hardy unhesitatingly replied that it was the discovery of Ramanujan.

Hardy called their collaboration "the one romantic incident in my life."

Stephen Fry learned about Ramanujan while at Cambridge University and Benegal's passion to tell this story dates 20 years back.

A chance encounter of the director-duo in 2005 led to Fry and Benegal discovering their shared passion.

"For me Ramanujan's work and ideas are the DNA of what powers digital technology today. When your automated teller machines divide and arrange your money before coughing it up, they are all using Ramanujan's partition theory," Benegal told the BBC.

Benegal is a pioneer in digital technology and he was the first director to adopt digital post-production. Benegal has produced over 60 short feature films.

Benegal said that a "major American or British star" will play the cricket-loving Hardy and added that he and Fry would be looking for a "terrific Indian actor" to play Ramanujan.

"It won't be (Bollywood stars like) Aamir Khan or Shah Rukh Khan surely. I am sure we will find the right actor," he said.

The multi-million dollar film will be shot in Erode (where Ramanujan was born) and Kumbakonam (where he grew up) in Tamil Nadu, and in Cambridge where he spent five years.

first published:March 21, 2006, 14:26 IST