The $20m three-part epic The Rising, directed by Ketan Mehta is set to be the most expensive film ever to be produced in India.

The India/UK production, set in the backdrop to the 1857 mutiny and the first War of Indian Independence, will be divided in to three episodes of 100 minutes each.

The first episode will portray the life of freedom fighter Mangal Pandey and his British commander William Gordon. The second will focus on the last Moghul Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. The final episode will be woven around the legend of Laxmi Bai, the Indian Queen of Jhansi, who led her troops against the British Army.

The film stars Indian megastar Aamir Khan as Mangal Pandey along with Rani Mukherji and Aishwariya Rai. Hollywood actor Toby Stephens is reported to have signed for the role of Gordon.

The period epic is being jointly produced by the UK's Capitol Films, Mumbai 's Entertainment One, Kaleidoscope Films and Ketan Mehta's Maya Movies. The film will be shot in Hindi as well as English and will have its world premiere on August 15, 2004 (Indian Independence Day).