Indian megastar AmitabhBachchan is expected to take the lead role in Deepa Mehta's Exclusion, a$15m historical drama about an ill-fated voyage of emigre Sikhs who soughtrefuge but where rebuffed by Canadian authorities in the early part of the 20thcentury.

Bachchan, who is in Torontoto promote Never Say Goodbye,will play Gurdit Singh the Sikh leader and businessman who financed the journeyand fought for the rights of his fellow passengers.

In 1914, the Kamagata Marufrom India to Vancouver carrying more than 300 Sikhn men, women and childrenseeking asylum from political repression in their native India. Refused entryto Canada, the ship and its passengers were stranded in the Vancouver harbourfor months before the ship was dispatched under naval escort back to India.British forces opended fire on the ship, killing forty.

The production was firstannounced last year at TIFF, where Mehta's latest film Water screened. As reported then, Bollywood star JohnAbraham, who featured in Water,will play the role of Mewa Singh, the man who assasinated the Canadianbureaucrat who prevented the ship from docking and condemned the ship's companyto months of deprivation and a return to a persecution in India. Mehta wrotethe screenplay while her partner David Hamilton will produce with Water DoP Giles Nuttgens behind the camera.

Hamilton told ScreenInternational the film will likely shoot in late summer 2007 in BritishColumbia and India. Location shoots in Hong Kong and Japan are pending. Backersinclude Telefilm Canada, the Harold Greenberg Fund and various Canadian taxcredits. Mongrel Media is releasing the film in Canada.