Producers Michel Shane andAnthony Romano have boarded Indian billionaire Bhupendra Kumar Modi'slong-gestating biopic about the life of Buddha.

In addition, Modi hasoptioned the rights to Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh's book about Buddhism, OldPath White Clouds, on which the$120m Buddha will be based.

Shane and Romano, whoexecutive produced I Robot and CatchMe If You Can, will executiveproduce the film through their production company Hand Picked Films. M Films, asubsidiary of Modi's $2.4bn company MCorp Global, will produce.

The English-languageproject, described as 'a large-scale commercial biopic for mainstreamaudiences worldwide', is currently being scripted and Shane and Romano areraising finance and searching for a director and stars. Shekhar Kapur waspreviously attached to direct the project.

Shane said he expects tofinance the film through equity players in the US and Asia and work with a USstudio for distribution and marketing. Modi is financing development of thefilm.

The producers expectproduction to start in the first quarter of next year for worldwide release in2008. Locations will include the US, Japan, China, Thailand and India.