Indian billionaire Dr Bhupendra Kumar Modi has set up an internationalfilm production outfit in Los Angeles called Spice through which he willproduce his epic feature film Buddha to be directed by ShekarKapur.

He has hired Patrick De Bokay as the film's executive producer andPascal Borno as its international sales agent.

The film, which Modi claims will cost $120m, is being written byBuddhist scholar Deepak Chopra, will shoot later this year and is being plannedfor delivery in 2006 - to coincide with the celebrations of the 2550thbirth anniversary of Buddha.

Modi, who is also president of the Mahabodhi Society of India, explainedin Cannes this week that he had already invested $10m in the development of theproject.

"The film aims to be anhonest and authentic portrayal of the life of the Buddha through his childhoodas Siddhartha, as a monk and as Tathagat after he attained enlightenment,"he said. He added that the Dalai Lama has given his endorsement of the projectand that "His Holiness has also written to his famous disciples from Hollywoodto extend professional assistance for this mega movie project." Richard Gereand Orlando Bloom are among the most famous Hollywood Buddhists.

Modi said that the film would be shot in English in India and Thailand,with post-production in Hollywood.