The tragic Komagata Maru incident, whose 100th anniversary falls this year, is finally going to unfold on the big screen as part of a co-production treaty signed between India and Canada.
Confirming these details, a source from Canada said, "It ('Komagata Maru') would now be a $22 million Indo-Canada production to be directed by an A-lister from Hollywood."
"It will have one top Indian actor playing a Sikh. We want Mr Bachchan for that role. One top Japanese actor and one Hollywood actor, besides many other prominent actors from India, Canada and the US."
Komagata Maru was a Japanese ship hired by a Malaysia-based wealthy Sikh Gurdit Singh in 1914 to forcibly bring 376 Indians, mostly Sikhs, into Canada to challenge racist laws of that time. But when the ship reached Vancouver via Hong Kong, its passengers were not allowed to disembark for two months and then forcibly sent back to India where 20 were shot dead by police on arrival in Kolkata.
Now, the long stranded project would be the first beneficiary of the joint film treaty signed by India and Canada July 1.
According to the treaty, filmmakers from both countries would be at liberty to make films as and how they want in India and Canada with heavy tax and production subsidies.
"Komagata Maru" has been a long-in-the-pipeline dream project involving huge money and therefore prohibitive to make.
Canada-based Indian filmmaker Deepa Mehta was to direct the project initially with Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar in the lead. But now the project will be helmed by a top Hollywood director.
Eros International has stepped in as the Indian producers for the ambitious epic drama.
Interestingly, the project is being co-scripted by Vinay Virmanim, the young Canada-based Indian actor who starred in Bejoy Nambiar's "David" and would soon be seen in the Canada-produced comedy "Dr Cabbie".