Still riding the strong reaction to her Toronto festivalopener Water, hot Canadian director Deepa Mehta is already preparing hernext project, Exclusion, with Water star John Abraham in thelead. Mehta is looking to shoot in Calcutta and Vancouver next summer.
The screenplay, written by Mehta, concerns the little-known Komagata Maruincident of 1914, when 376 Indian dissidents traveling on a chartered Japaneseship sought to emigrate to Canada-- a nation of supposedly fellow subjects ofthe British Empire - only to be surrounded by immigration vessels a mile fromshore.
During a long stand-off, the ship-bound passengers, many ofwhom were veterans of the British Indian Army, were pushed to the brink ofstarvation. A legal challenge failed and the ship was escorted back to Indiawhere, upon arrival, British forces, suspecting sedition, opened fire on thepassengers, killing forty.
Bollywood star Abraham will play the role of Mewa Singh, a survivor whoreturned to Vancouver and assassinated the Canadian immigration official whodenied the entry, a man who was himself half-Indian.
Mehta's long-time partner David Hamilton will produce the film, with backingfrom CHUM. Toronto-based Hussain Amarshi's Mongrel Media will handle allCanadian rights. Water DoP Giles Nuttgens will be behind the camera.