Akshay Kumar in Deepa Mehta’s next

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In an interesting turn of events, world-renowned filmmaker Deepa Mehta has managed to rope in current Bollywood ‘Kinng’ Akshay Kumar for her film Komagata Maru (earlier titled Exclusion). Akshay will also be co-producing the film with Hamilton-Mehta Productions Inc.

The film is the emotional true story set in 1914 when a ship of Indians was turned away as it reached Canada. Akshay is set to play the lead character, Gurdit Singh, who challenges the British empire and fights for the passengers.

“I am not used to working with Oscar Nominated Directors so it is a great privilege to work with Deepa Mehta. The subject of this film has moved me, as it is a true representation and a testimony to human struggles for freedom, justice and equality. I want to portray this real life tragedy to the world identifying how injustice was done to innocent people. 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,” Akshay told Newswire.

Amitabh Bachchan was earlier slated to play the title role in the film but had to be dropped last minute because of legal reasons. Mehta gets her funding from the Canadian government who requires that the film’s lead actors have a Canadian passport. Amitabh does not have a Canadian passport, so Deepa was forced to let him go in order to make her film possible.

Deepa recently won great acclaim for her film Heaven on Earth starring Preity Zinta. Of her new film, she said, “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.”

For those looking for something different from Akshay, it looks like this is the film. It is slated to begin filming in September 2009.

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