Deepa Mehta, Akshay to produce `Komagata Maru'

Toronto, Oct 10 (IANS) Bollywood star Akshay Kumar and Canada-based Indian filmmaker Deepa Mehta will jointly produce a new India-centric film "Komagata Maru", in which the actor will play the lead role.

To cost up to $35 million, "Komagata Maru" will be produced jointly by Hamilton-Mehta Productions Inc in association with Akshay's home production, Hariom Entertainment.

"It is a film of high-level government intrigue, duplicity, racism, spying, military engagements, court battles, sedition and assassination," said a statement released here Thursday by Hamilton-Mehta Productions.

Komagata Maru was a Japanese ship which was hired by a Malaysia-based wealthy Sikh Gurdit Singh 94 years ago to bring Indians into Canada in violation of the then racist laws.

The ship, which brought 376 Indians from Hong Kong to Vancouver in 1914, was not allowed to anchor for two months and sent forcibly back to India where more than 20 passengers were killed by British India police in Calcutta.

The film will revisit the brave journey of Indians who wanted a better life in Canada, but were denied entry by the racist government of the time.

"It is a journey of one man's courage that challenged the largest empire in the world. Set in the year 1914, the film spans two continents. It bares open the heroism of Gurdit Singh, who dares to have an impossible dream - a life of freedom, equality, and dignity," the statement said.

The statement said Akshay has confirmed he will play the role of Gurdit Singh in the movie, adding that talks were also under way with other actors, including some Hollywood A-listers, to make this a truly international project.

The statement quoted Akshay as saying: "It is an honour for me to play one of the bravest Sikhs, Gurdit Singh, in this tragic forgotten moment in history. I salute those brave souls who sacrificed their lives for justice and equality today."

Mehta added: "This is an extremely important opportunity for me to reveal a significant moment in Canadian history and illustrate the steadfast bravery of the Sikh community who sacrificed so much to help create a more tolerant community within my adopted country."

To be filmed in Canada and around the world, it will be distributed in Canada by Mongrel Media.

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