Toronto-based Indian filmmaker Deepa Mehta (pictured) is planning to make a $10m English-language feature about the 1914 epic journey by Punjabi immigrants from India to Canada and back on a ship named the Komagata Maru.

The film is based on the historical incident of the steamship Komagata Maru that sailed to Vancouver in July 1914, where immigration officials refused to allow the 376 passengers - mostly Punjabi Sikh immigrants - to disembark and forced the ship to return to India. When the ship arrived back in Calcutta, British officials attempted to board the vessel, sparking off a riot in which 20 passengers died and many more were injured and arrested.

The film will be shot in India and British Columbia and is being produced by Canada-based Indians Ajay Virmani and Parmesh Bhatt. Indian director and scriptwriter Mahesh Bhatt will write the script and the film will feature Hindi film star Akshay Kumar in a lead role.