Indian filmmaker Ashutosh Gowariker has signed up to direct Buddha, a big-budget English-language biopic, which is being financed by billionaire Bhupendra Kumar Modi.

David S. Ward (The Sting, Sleepless In Seattle) scripted the long-gestating project which tells the story of how Indian prince Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment and became the first Buddha.

US producers Michel Shane and Anthony Romano are executive producing the project, along with Bhuvan Lall of Modi’s Spice Enfotainment.

Gowariker has previously directed five blockbusters including 2002 Oscar nominee Lagaan and last year’s historical romance Jodhaa Akbar.

“The story of how Prince Siddhartha Gautama went in the search of the truth about life, attained supreme knowledge and became Buddha has always mesmerised me,” said Gowariker.

Gowariker is currently working on romantic comedy What’s Your Raashee?, starring Harman Baweja and Priyanka Chopra, which is being sold internationally by UTV Motion Pictures.